Introduction to the Darwin Online Manuscript Catalogue
Extract from Darwin's barnacle slide catalogue

Search the catalogue

THIS is the first and largest union catalogue of Darwin's handwritten manuscripts and private papers ever published. It contains c. 76,000 records from more than 25 institutions and private collections and is intended to record all Darwin manuscripts in the world. If your institution keeps Darwin manuscripts not included here, please contact us. For an introduction to Darwin's manuscripts, click here. To see a sample entry from the catalogue click here.

The catalogue is frequently updated and corrected. For example, we have identified many of the printed clippings, incomplete references and names and dates in Darwin's notes and abstracts (and thus unknown in the original catalogues on which this one is based), making the Darwin Online Manuscript Catalogue the most detailed and accurate available.

The catalogue entries may be searched or sorted according to the following fields:

All Fields: searches all the textual (i.e. non tick box) fields in the database.
Identifier: the call number from each institution's catalogue, e.g. CUL-DAR80.B7 [At the moment this must be at least two digits long after the DAR number.] Entering less than the full number, e.g. CUL-DAR29, will bring up a list of all specific sub numbers of DAR29. See here.
Name(s): e.g. Darwin Charles Robert, or multiple names e.g. Darwin, Owen
After date: entering a date here restricts the set of returned results to those which are dated after the supplied date. The supplied date may be incomplete, in that it consists only of a year, or a year with month only, or a precise date in the form YYYY-MM-DD
Before date:
Title: searches the title or attributed title fields, e.g. 'Silliman's Journal'
Description: a limited number of entries have descriptions, e.g. Expression, etc.
Document type: note, draft, abstract, figure, photo, printed, datasheet, legal, correspondence, miscellaneous
(clicking one of these links will display all records of that type)
Storage types: Ticking one or both of these will limit a search to only those items whose text, image or both are available on Darwin Online.

Available full text

Available digital images

See advanced search help for more detail.

Abbreviations used in the catalogue

ALS: autograph letter signed
AMNH: American Museum of Natural History, New York.
APS: American Philosophical Society.
BL: The British Library, London.
Calendar: Calendar of the correspondence of Charles Darwin. (1985, 1994, online database)
CC: Christ's College, Cambridge (see also STAN below).
CUL: Cambridge University Library, Cambridge.
Dibner: Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.
EDIN-MUR: John Murray Archive, National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh.
EH: English Heritage, Down House Collection.
ELGIN: Elgin Museum, Elgin, Moray.
Eton: Anne Thackeray Ritchie Archive, Eton College Library.
EUL: Edinburgh University Library.
GeolSoc: Geological Society of London.
Houghton: Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge Mass.
JIC: John Innes Centre, Norwich.
KEW: Kew Gardens, London.
KML: Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, Jacksonville, Florida.
Lehigh: Lehigh University Libraries, Special Collections, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
LINCOLN: Lincolnshire Archives, Lincoln.
LINSOC: Linnean Society of London.
BROM: London Borough of Bromley Archives, Bromley.
Marginalia: di Gregorio and Gill, Charles Darwin's marginalia vol. 1 (books); vol. 2 (periodicals); vol. 3 (abstracts and 'other') [2 & 3 in progress].
MLS: Mitchell Library, Sydney, Australia.
Notebooks: Barrett et al eds., Charles Darwin's notebooks 1836-1844. (1987).
NHM: The Natural History Museum, London.
NHMD: The Natural History Museum, Denmark.
NCM: Norwich Castle Museum, Norwich.
NRO: Nottinghamshire Record Office.
NYBG: Charles Finney Cox Papers (PP), Archives, The New York Botanical Garden, New York.
PC-California: Private Collection, California.
PC-Virginia: Private Collection, Virginia.
PC-USA: A private collection, USA.
RCS: Royal College of Surgeons of England.
RGS: Royal Geographical Society, London.
RoySoc: Royal Society, London.
RI: Royal Institution of Great Britain, London.
SA: Statsbiblioteket, Aarhus, Denmark.
STAN: David Stanbury collection, Old Library, Christ's College, Cambridge.
UBC: University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
UCL: University College London.
UMZC: University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge.
UVa: University of Virginia Library, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Waller: Waller Manuscript Collection, Uppsala University Library.
WM: Wedgwood Museum, Barleston, Stoke-on-Trent (previously on loan to Keele).
Whipple: Whipple Museum of the History of Science, University of Cambridge.
ZSL: Zoological Society of London.

Identifier numbers, because they are used as part of the permanent URL system (web address), cannot contain spaces, colons and some other characters. When these occurred in the original catalogues they have been truncated or replaced with an underscore or full stop (period). Some identifier numbers were repeated in the original catalogues. As unique numbers for each entry are required by the Darwin Online software, bracketed decimal numbers (e.g. CUL-DAR262.22.2[.1]) have been added to make each number unique. These bracketed numbers do not appear on the original manuscripts.

In the future, provided sufficient funding can be secured, the catalogue will be enlarged with more detailed descriptions of each item.

Requests to reproduce manuscripts must be sent to the owner of the manuscript, not to Darwin Online. In most instances contact Cambridge University Library Order Form for Digital Images.


The electronic catalogue of the Darwin Archive at Cambridge University Library (CUL) is reproduced here with the kind permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library. A marked up ascii text form of the catalogue was kindly provided, along with essential and helpful guidance, by its creator Nick Gill. Its content was last updated by the CUL in June 2004. The database also includes the Supplement to the Darwin catalogue at the Cambridge University Library, kindly sent by Adam Perkins. In the course of naming the scanned microfilm jpegs of the Darwin Archive according to the catalogue and the ongoing transcription and editing of Darwin manuscripts for Darwin Online, hundreds of corrections, datings, additions and clarifications or supplementary details have been added. We have sent many corrections and additions for the catalogue to the CUL.

The other institutions named above also helpfully granted permission for a copy of their catalogues to be included. Adam Perkins kindly sent a copy of his Supplement to the Darwin catalogue at the Cambridge University Library. Many thanks are due to Mary Tilmouth, Candace Guite and Colin Higgins of Christ's College Library for their assistance with the David Stanbury collection catalogue.

Due to the helpfulness and cooperation of the following institutions the catalogue includes fully normalized records for some or all of the manuscripts from: the Darwin Archive at Cambridge University Library, UK, the American Philosophical Society, Cambridge University Zoology Museum, Cambridge University Sedgwick Museum, the British Library, Christ's College, Cambridge (including the Stanbury collection), University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, Kew Gardens, London, the Linnean Society of London, John Murray Archive, National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, Lincolnshire Archives, Lincoln, Zoological Society of London, Elgin Museum, Elgin, Moray, Keele University Library, Staffordshire, Lehigh University Libraries, Special Collections, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, American Museum of Natural History, New York, Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, the New York Botanical Garden, the State Library, Aarhus, Denmark, University of Virginia Library and University College London, Whipple Museum of the History of Science, University of Cambridge, Eton College Library - Anne Thackeray Ritchie Archive, Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge Mass. the Geological Society of London and the Natural History Museum, London. The catalogue contains a number of interim entries for the manuscript collection of English Heritage (Darwin Collection at Down House) and c. 740 entries derived from the cross-references in the CUL catalogue here.1

John van Wyhe

16 April, 2008-2021

Two date fields are used in the database. One is for online display and the other is used by the software and search engine of Darwin Online. Previously the more informative dates used in the American Philosophical Society's catalogue were used in the display field. However this was used by an organizer of another project to claim, incorrectly, that the present catalogue's data had not been normalized. To avoid confusion the displayed date field now gives the same normalized date format as the machine-read date field.

1 A copy of the catalogue of manuscripts at Down House was first requested in 2004- and on numerous subsequent occasions. Our requests have been unsuccessful.


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