Online History Archives: Darwin

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The archive I choose to look at was The Darwin Correspondence Project.   This online archive provides a vast amount of information about Charles Darwin. It complies letters that were written to or by Charles Darwin.  Many us may know Darwin for his work on natural selection, or about his voyage on the HMS Beagle, what is often left in the dark is his personal life. Letters from Darwin’s early life as well as many letters where Darwin discusses his work are included in this archive. Letters to and from friends, or family give you a look into who Darwin was and how the people around him helped shape his work. These letters offer a look into how Darwin thought and where his ideas stemmed from. This is a unique archive that holds many secrets and interesting facts that are waiting to be discovered.

This online archive makes it very easy to find what you are looking for. It is organized well and it gives many different viewing options which I thought was great. For example you can look at a specific topics like the HMS Voyage which would show you letters that relate to that topic. Or you could use the timeline where you can see which letters fit where in the big picture of Darwin’s adventures. There is even a map which allows you to view where Darwin was when the letter was written. Audio and video features that discus various things about the letters. These features help make it easier to be engaged and excited about what you might find next.  There are many letters which may seem overwhelming but this archive does a wonderful job of categorising them into specific sections making it easy to zero in on what you think might be important.  It also gives brief descriptions of the topics allowing you to see if you would like to dive deeper into those letters or not. Wether you want to know a lot or a little about Darwin you will surly find something interesting within these letters.

Although I do think that this archive does a great job of presenting and organising the letters I feel it doesn’t allow you to see what others sites have to say about Darwin. Although many of these letters are written by Darwin himself, having access to what researchers of today think about Darwin’s theories would help create different understandings of what the letters are saying. Hearing what other people in the field have to say may help people view the information in a different light which may help them better understand it.

Overall I think that this online archive is a great resource and tool that historians would find useful . Its ease of use and depth of information make this a great archive to dive into from the comfort of your own home.

330px-Charles_Robert_Darwin_by_John_Collier

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