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Special Collections - Bioscience, Natural Resources & Public Health Library: Darwin Collection

A guide to the special collections at the Bioscience, Natural Resources & Public Health Library


The Darwin collection in the Bioscience & Natural Resources Library is one of the most complete collections of the various editions of the books published during Darwin's life. We have the complete 17 volumes of the British and American editions of "The Origin..." (QH365.O7). one of the only library in the world to have this set.

We own first or early editions of Darwin's books published in French, Spanish, Italian, German, Russian, Danish, and probably more. All of these translations are now in NRLF. The Darwin collection includes first editions of his grandfather Erasmus Darwin's works (now in Bancroft Library), and such rarities as the selection of Darwin's letters that Prof Henslow published in 1838 for the Cambridge Philosophical Society, not to mention a book written on mucus by his namesake uncle published posthumously after the uncle died of blood poisoning from cutting himself during an autopsy at the University of Edinborough. Also in the collection is a letter written by Darwin as well as one written by his wife, Emma.
QH31.D2 has an interesting collection of Darwinia, including correspondence between Kofoid and Darwin's British publisher, John Murray.

selected titles


k-QH365.D7. First edition of Origin of the Species. One of 1250 copies (BANC also has one).
k-F2636.F56 v.3. Researches in Geology and Natural History, Darwin's volume of the Voyage of the Beagle. It was very popular and later republished as Journal of Researches into the Natural History and Geology (QH11.D3).
fQL5.D3 v.3. Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle. Darwin supervised these volumes, v.3 is on birds with descriptions and illustrations by John Gould ('the English Audubon').
QH365.E95. Extracts of Darwin's letters to Prof. Henslow. Not of scientific interest but extremely rare. (5 copies listed in OCLC.)
k-QH31.D22.A5. Letter by Emma Darwin.
QH365.D251. Letter by Charles Darwin.
TX719.L52 1711 Le menage des champs, et le jardinier francois accomodezau gout du temps ... Liger, Louis. A quite arbirary choice to show off the Holl Collection of Cookery. I almost chose the two-volume by Careme, but it's not in great shape.
k-R128.7.H18 Haller, Albrecht von, 1708-1777. Alberti v. Haller ... Opera minora emendata, aucta, et renovata ... I chose this to represent our impressive holdings in physiology and our lesser medicine collection. Haller was also known for his botanical work. (I did not show this in my April demo.)
fQL368.R2.H3 (one of the atlas volumes) Haeckel, Ernst Heinrich Philipp August, 1834-1919. Die Radiolarien (Rhizopoda radiaria) : eine Monographie. Haekel's illustrations are among the impressive of the 19th c. He was also the most devoted of Darwin's German followers, even to the point of drawing what he didn't see (although I don't think that true of this volume).
SB403.F5 Flore des serres et des Jardins de l'Europe, Annales Generales d'Horticulture. Almost any volume will do. I chose this title both because of the gorgeous hand-painted plates and because hort magazines like this were offering the first detailed descriptions of foreign plants. Curtis's Botanical Magazine (QK1.C8 LC 1) also offers great botanical illustrations. The earlier volumes of both offer the most impressive.
fSD536.H55 1957 Hough, Romeyn Beck, 1857-1924. Hough's encyclopaedia of American woods / by E. S. Harrar 1st ed, New York : R. Speller, 1957. I chose this to represent our forestry collections. I included the publisher because of the intersting history of the work. This is actually a 2nd edition. All 16 volumes of the wood samples were done but only the first 9 volumes of the accompanying text. Around 2003, I took a call asking if we'd be interested in the text for the rest of the volumes. It took a while to realize that I was talking to R. Speller himself. He was, if I remember correctly, 93 at the time.
fQE905.U57 Unger, F. (Franz), 1800-1870. Chloris protogaea. Beitrage zur flora der vorwelt, von F. Unger...1847. A random choice to represent the paleo collections, chosen mostly because of the quality of the plates.
fQK98.M64 flat Candolle, Alphonse de, 1806-1893. Calques des dessins de la flore du Mexique, de Mocino et Sesse qui ont servi de types d'especes dans le systema ou le prodromus. [Geneva, 1874] The rarest item we own. There are two copies in Mexico City and no others in N. America. (There used to be a book in Refe, bound in green, that describes this work.)
SB407.L66 1864 Lowe, E. J. (Edward Joseph), 1825-1900. Beautiful leaved plants : being a description of the most beautiful leaved plants in cultivation in this country1868. Chosen not only because of the lovely plates, but also because our copy comes from Charles Dickens's library (bookplate inside front cover).
QE710.C9 1834 Cuvier, Georges, baron, 1769-1832. Recherches sur les ossemens fossiles, ou l'on retablit les caracteres de plusieurs animaux dont les revolutions du... 4. ed. 1834-36. I think I chose v.1 of the text and v.1 of the atlas. More paleo but chosen more for the fact that it's Cuvier, who in this work was the first to document the extintion of species.
k-QH45.B8 Buffon Histoire naturelle, generale et particuliere : avec la description du Cabinet du roy. Paris : De l'Imprimerie royale, 1749. The first systematic natural history encyclopedia. The scattered annotations in v.1 are by Buffon himself (per Prof. Larson). BIOS used to have a 2nd copy of this (with the same annotations in another hand) that is now at BANC.
QK91.S7 1762 Linne, Carl von, 1707-1778. Caroli Linnae. Species plantarum, exhibentes plantas rite cognitas,ad genera relatas, cum... Editio secunda, aucta. 1762-1963. An arbitrary selection of a work by Linnaeus. BIOS has a nearly complete collection of his works (as does BANC).
QL463.R4 Reaumur, Rene-Antoine Ferchault de, 1683-1757. Memoires pour servir a l'histoire des insectes [1734]-1955. An example of our entomology collection. This was probably the most important 18th c work on insects. It includes the first proof that corals are animals, not plants (the term insect had a broader meaning then). His work on bees in these volumes may be the most important before that of Karl von Frisch. Reaumur also made major contributions to technology, math, and physiology.
k-QL805.C99 Cuvier, Georges, baron, 1769-1832. Lecons d'anatomie comparee de G. Cuvier. an VIII [1800]-an XIV.--1805. More physiology, this time to remind people that the next time they're in Paris, they should stop by the Musee d'Anatomie Comparee (in the Jardin des Plantes) and check out the very bones that are illustrated in this work. (And also to remind them that it was his work in comparative anatomy that allowed Cuvier to understand extinctions and the great age of the Earth--see his work above.)

How to locate Darwin books

Complete Charles Darwin Online
Darwin's complete publications (including Origin of Species, Voyage of the Beagle, Zoology and Descent of Man), thousands of handwritten manuscripts, and the largest Darwin bibliography and manuscript catalogue ever published; also hundreds of supplementary works: biographies, obituaries, reviews, reference works and more. From the Cambridge University Library and others.

Note: The Bioscience Library has the world's most complete collection of British and American editions of Darwin's work published during his lifetime. See the Bioscience Library Reference Desk for assistance.