Quirks & Quarks

Piecing together Charles Darwin's evolution

Literally piece by piece.
The first-known sketch by Charles Darwin of an evolutionary tree describing the relationships among groups of organisms. (American Museum of Natural History and Cambridge University Library)

The Darwin Manuscripts Project is currently underway at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. It is an initiative to re-assemble about 96,000 pages of Charles Darwin's hand written manuscripts and drawings.  

This includes papers that became his famous 1859 publication 'On The Origin of Species' as well as notes from the earlier HMS Beagle voyage (1831-1836).  

Darwin's notes are in thousands of fragments because of the way in which he worked. He would either cut his papers with scissors or tear them with a straight edge in order to create volumes of related topics and observations.  

The project is headed by Darwin scholar, Dr. David Kohn. Darwin's own evolution as a thinker, observer and scientist can be traced from the fragments of manuscript that have been reassembled so far.