Darwin Online

1)      Title and URL (or location)
The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online

2)      Overview and Aim


3)      Authors and/or Principal Investigators and Affiliation(s)

Director: Dr John van Wyhe(Depts. of Biology & History, National University of Singapore and Christ’s College, Cambridge)
Research Associate
: Dr Kees Rookmaaker (National University of Singapore and Chief Editor The Rhino Resource Centre)
Technical Director
: Dr Antranig Basman(Lucendo Development Ltd.)
Associate editors

Mr Angus Carroll
Dr Gordon Chancellor
Professor J. David Archibald
Ms Sue Asscher

Professor James Secord (Dept. of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge) [Formerly AHRC Principal Investigator for 2005-8 AHRC grant]

Professor Janet Browne (Dept. of the History of Science, Harvard University) [Formerly AHRC Co-Investigator for 2005-8 AHRC grant]

4)      Stakeholders, including End-Users

Scholars, students, historians, scientists, and researchers

5)      Funding Source(s), if any

MANY institutions, organizations and individuals have generously contributed to Darwin Online and its pilot website The writings of Charles Darwin on the web (2002-6). It is a particular pleasure to acknowledge their support, assistance and permissions. Darwin Online simply could not otherwise exist. The Arts and Humanities Research Councilgenerously provided primary funding, for three years (October 2005-8), to expand the pilot website and achieve a very great amount of the core work. The Charles Darwin Trust provided funds for web server costs from 2005-8. The project was privately funded by John van Wyhe from 2002-5. Early funding, in the form of van Wyhe’s research expenses, was provided by the National University of Singapore and the Open University.

An anonymous donor generously funded Darwin Online from 2008-2009.

6)      Humanities Significance

Books and Pamphlets

Contains printed individual items written by or containing contributions by Darwin or works in a series to which he contributed or edited. Also included are works which printed manuscripts left unpublished by Darwin. Letters published in his lifetime and the major collections published by his family after his death are included here. Also included are modern published transcriptions of Darwin manuscripts. Those which have appeared in print are given a Freeman number.

Publications in Serials or Articles

Contains papers, notes and letters by Darwin which were originally published in serials (periodicals) in Darwin’s lifetime or shortly after his death. Translations or summaries in other languages or quotations from Darwin’s works are only included when they were given a number by Freeman. All of Darwin’s articles have been edited and annotated here for the first time.


Contains items left unpublished by Darwin or catalogued amongst his private papers in the Darwin Archive at the Cambridge University Library or elsewhere. Transcriptions for Darwin Online retain their manuscript number e.g. CUL-DAR158.1-76

A wide range of publications not written by Darwin, including secondary reference works, contemporary reviews of Darwin’s books, obituaries, posthumous recollections of Darwin, published descriptions of Darwin’s Beagle specimens by other scientists
and important related works for students studying the period or discussing Darwin or his life and work.

The manuscripts show differences between each addition, highlighting changes.  Original handwritten manuscripts are shown.  Searches enable easier access.  There are supplementary works, related articles, references, and personal information about Darwin.

7)      Digital Innovations
Advanced Search
searches, if not restricted, the entire website including all documents, bibliography and manuscript catalogue. The advanced search includes ‘Darwin Charles Robert’ and ‘English’ language by default, but these can be deleted or changed if desired by the user.
Freeman Bibliographical Catalogue Search
searches only the Freeman ‘F’ and additional ‘A’ entries in the database.
Darwin Manuscript Catalogue Search
searches only the manuscript records in the database.
User guide to understand website.
Supplementary Works

8)      Critique and Comments
Site is a little difficult to understand, but users guide is helpful.  No keyword search of manuscripts.  No concordance.   Not enough tools to examine text.

While reading through the page I was very pleased to find the extensive collection that this page has gathered. They have sited a huge number of sources and credit which are all legitimate and able to be verified. The search tool is very handy since there are so many publications. I also find the biography of Darwin to be a nice addition since it helps the reader to possibly understand why he was writing all of this. The one thing I did notice was that there was no explicit purpose as to why this website was originally created. We can infer the purpose but we do not know the full extent of the creation of the website unless the creators tell us the full why.

Site is poorly organized and gives way too much information at once.  Each page should not stretch on and on, it should be more simplified and have more specific toolbar options to categorize the work more.

9) How could this project be transformed, transmuted so that it is a “bird’s nest in a rainbow?”

There are many ways that this site could be changed to be a “bird’s nest in a rainbow.” The site itself is so massive and has so much information but it is poorly organized. The creators need to group the information together in more relevant ways to streamline the website. One of these ways is to use the wealth of internet tools readily available to the website administrators.

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