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Darwin Manuscripts Project

The Scientific Papers of Charles Darwin

The AMNH Darwin Manuscripts Project (DMP) is an historical and textual edition of Charles Darwin's scientific manuscripts. We offer digital access to the primary evidence for the birth and maturation of Charles Darwin's attempts to explore the natural world and to formulate the theory of evolutionary descent by means of natural selection. We are a comprehensive repository of high-resolution color images of faithfully transcribed Darwin manuscripts.

These unique documents are the surviving record of  Darwin's life work as a practicing scientist. Through them students of history and of science can trace Darwin’s intellectual development as a theorist, as an inspired observer and as a determined experimenter—and as the author of On the Origin of Species and fifteen other books.

The DMP edition mirrors the underlying structure of Darwin’s papers as he left them upon his death in April 1882. The key to understanding this collection is that Darwin organized his notes and drafts into large thematic portfolios and that it was from this raw material that he shaped his published books. The database at the core of the edition catalogues 46,032 scientific manuscripts, which are located at Cambridge, Down House, and at some dozen other public and in private collections. To date, we have digitized, as well as physically and digitally conserved all of the 34,643 folios that deal directly with the theory of evolution. The documents we have brought together so far comprise three quarters of the entire corpus of Darwin scientific manuscripts and we continue to make steady progress towards completion of our goal.

BTS Darwin
Charles Darwin by George Richmond, pencil 1839 Cambridge University Library

DMP was founded in 2003 at Drew University. Since 2006, we have been hosted by the American Museum of Natural History. Since 2009 we have collaborated with the Cambridge University Library to enhance and help maintain the CUL’s Darwin Manuscripts Catalogue. Since 2010 we have been collaborating with CUL, the Natural History Museum (London) and the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) to digitize and publish Charles Darwin's annotated library.

We welcome and are happy to train volunteers and interns at our office in the Research Library of AMNH in New York City.

David Kohn