Search tips

In this section:

…Find all letters exchanged with a particular correspondent?
…Find letters written by/to a particular correspondent?
…Find an exact word or phrase in a letter?
…Find letters referring to a particular person?
…Read all the letters from a particular volume of the printed Correspondence?
…Find a particular letter using its archival classmark?

Why is the letter date or part of the date in square brackets?
Not getting the results you expect from a search?
Links to letters from the biography are not working?
Need to see an original letter?
Why is the letter text not there?
Why are the footnotes not there?
What is the log number?
What does “[DIAG HERE]” mean?

 

The three basic searches

 

  • By keyword or exact phrase in letters, optionally restricted by correspondent and/or date.
  • By keyword or exact phrase in the biographies of people mentioned in the letters, and optionally restricted to just men or women.
  • By keyword or exact phrase in the educational resources, essays, blog posts, and other contextual material on the website.

Searches in letters can be further refined using filters. By default this will search not only the texts of the letters but also their associated metadata and summaries.  Use the filters (see below) to confine the text to the letter text only, or the summary only.

Searches in the biographies can only currently be refined by gender, but searches by occupation and nationality are planned.

Lists of search results can be refined by selecting from the options (“facets”) in the left-hand menu (see below).

The filters in operation are displayed at the top of the list of results: a filter can be removed by clicking the cross against its name.

Selecting “Search again” will open the search interface above the list of search results.  ALL SEARCH TERMS AND FILTERS ARE RETAINED.  Be sure to remove any you don’t want before trying a different search.   The quickest way to remove filters is to click on the cross beside the filter name (scroll down to get back to the search results).

 

Using filters to refine search

 

Letter text – search only the main body of the letters themselves, omitting all metadata (NB also omits the address, salutation, and enclosures)

Translation – search only the English translations of foreign language letters

Summary – search only the letter summaries.

Author – search for letters written by a particular person

Addressee – search for letters written to a particular person

Sent from – search for letters written from a particular address

Letter number – search for letters by the Darwin Correspondence Project unique identifier (also referred to as a “calendar number”).  You can also search on ranges of numbers

Darwin Correspondence Volume  - search within a particular volume of the print edition of The correspondence of Charles Darwin

Repository – search for letters from particular collections or archives

Classmark – if you know the archive reference number for the item you want, you can search for it here

Index term (beta) – Use with care.  We have manually coded some group identifiers (“flora” eg),  index terms such as people, institutions, and places, and some more conceptual terms.   These can be useful in conjunction with a keyword search but are not comprehensive.

Project log number – You can, but you don’t really want to!  Log numbers are interim indentification numbers given to letters as we find them, and are unlikely to be useful to anyone else

 

Using facets to refine search results

 

Lists of search results can be further refined by ticking the boxes in the pane down the left-hand side.  This will select only those letters that satisfy ALL the conditions, so under each heading, you would normally select only ONE option (ie ticking 1870  and 1871 will get no hits, as no letters belong in both years.  To get letters from more than one year, go back and use the date range option on the main search page).   If there are too many facets to display there will be a link to “more”.

 

What is (and isn’t) in here? 

For fuller information see also the editorial policy.

Letter texts: This site will eventually contain the full texts of all known surviving letters written by or to Charles Darwin, together with metadata and summaries .  The texts are published first in our print edition of The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, and are made available here by agreement with our publisher, Cambridge University Press, usually four years after they appear in print.   We are able to make some letters available within that time where they are particularly relevant to particular educational resources.  Where there is funding to create specific resources, a number of letters may also appear online before they are published in the print edition; these will be revised as the edition progresses.   The footnotes from the print edition are also published here.

Annotations and alterations: If you need the text of Darwin’s annotations to incoming letters, or if you are interested in the alterations and deletions he made to his own letters, you will need to refer to the printed Correspondence for now.

Metadata: For every letter we aim to provide information about the original, or other source of our transcription where we have not been able to work from the original.  This information includes the names of the correspondents and information on the date, a physical description, and information on location.    Where a date or a part of a date was not written on the letter by its author and has had to be inferred, it will appear in the headline in square brackets.  Summaries of (almost) all the letters, whether published or not, also appear here.   Most come  from the printed Calendar to the Correspondence of Charles Darwin; summaries for letters discovered since the Calendar was published are being added.

Images of letters: Our main aim is to provide searchable transcripts of letters, but some images of original letters will be added as funds become available.

People: The site has brief biographical information about all the correspondents, and anyone else mentioned in the letters.  A keyword search in “People” will search these biographical entries. This information has been taken from the print edition of the Calendar to the Correspondence of Charles Darwin. The biographies are often expanded or revised for the print edition of the Correspondence, but are not yet fully updated here.

 

How do I…..?

 

Find all letters exchanged with a particular correspondent? 

Leave the keywords box blank, and start typing the persons name in the “with correspondent” box.  Choose a name from the dropdown.  You can enter first names, middle names, or surnames.  Where names have changed, by marriage for example, either name should find the right person.   So should a title such as “Duke of Argyll”.

All letters by, to, or exchanged with, a correspondent are also available through links on the right hand menu by any of their letters, or through their biographical entry.

 

Find letters written by/to a particular correspondent?

There are two ways:

1) You can search for all their correspondence as above, and then in the search results page select their name in the “Author” or “Addressee” list of search terms (facets) in the left-hand menu.

OR

2) use the “Author” or “Addressee” filter

All letters by, to, or exchanged with, a correspondent are also available through links on the right-hand menu by any of their letters, or through their biographical entry.

 

Find an exact word or phrase in a letter?

[NB: the main keyword search box, set to search in "letters" will also search the metadata associated with that letter - including summary and footnotes.   To search only within the body of a letter text itself, use the "Letter text" filter. ]

Putting multiple keywords in the keywords search box will return a list of all letters (and associated metadata) containing ANY of the search terms and their roots – so

confessing murder

will return all entries where the letter or its summary, or the footnotes, contain EITHER “confess/confessed/confessing etc” OR “murder/murderer/murdered”.

At the moment it isn’t possible to search for a particular variant of a word, but to find a phrase enter it in the “keywords” box in quotation marks, so

“confessing a murder”

will find that phrase and any phrases that involve variants of the words (so it would also find “confessed a murderer”, but not “confessing to a murder”).

 

Find letters referring to a particular person?

To find people mentioned in the letters, search for their name as a keyword in “letters”.   You may also find additional helpful material by using the “index term” filter.

 

Read all the letters from a particular volume of the printed Correspondence?

Use the “Darwin Correspondence volume” filter

 

Find a particular letter using its archival classmark?

First use the “Repository” filter to select the location you want, and then the “Classmark” filter to search on the class and folio number.  NB omit punctuation and use quotation marks to limit strings. 

For example to search for 115: 23 in the Darwin Archive, using the Repository filter select “Cambridge University Library, Cambridge, England”, then in the Classmark filter enter “115 23″ in quotation marks.     

If you know the full archival reference (in this case DAR 115: 23) entering “DAR 115 23″ in quotation marks in the Classmark filter will also work, and will avoid possible confusion with other archival collections in Cambridge University Library.

 

Problem or question?

 

Why is the letter date or part of the date in square brackets?

The date, or that part of it, has been inferred from indirect evidence.  The footnotes will explain how; question marks indicate where there is uncertainty. Fewer than half of the letters had a complete date written on them by the letter writer.

Not getting the results you expect from a search?  Check that you have closed all unwanted filters.

Links to letters from the biography are not working? This almost always means there are no letters to find.  In a later release we will suppress those links when they are redundant.

Need to see an original letter?  You will have to contact the owner. Original letters are in public and private institutions all over the world. The Darwin Correspondence Project does not have the right to grant access to any of them.  The location of the original (where known) is given as the “Source of text” in the lefthand menu on the letter page.    Some of our transcriptions are taken from printed sources, including auction catalogues.

Why is the letter text not there? We are publishing the letters in chronological order.  The letter texts are added to the website approximately four years after they appear in print, so by March 2013 all the known letters up to 1869 had been made available online (The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 17, published 2009).

Letters from the year 1871 were published in print in March 2013 (The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19) and will go online in 2017 at the latest.

Letters of particular importance to our online educational resources are made available ahead of schedule.

Why are the footnotes not there? Some letter texts are made available online before they are published in the print edition; these ones will not yet have footnotes.   Please be aware that the texts of these letters may also change: we have checked them at least once, but  we check them several times before publication.

What is the log number? Log numbers are interim indentification numbers given to letters as we find them, and only useful for internal identification within the Darwin Correspondence Project.   The public identifier for the letters is the letter number (sometimes called a “calendar” number); that is the number that appears at the end of the URL for the letter entry.

What does “[DIAG HERE]” mean? Where there is a drawing or a table in the letter they may not yet be displayed in the online version.  We are working on incorporating these.  For letters dated up to 1865, scans of the relevant page in our print edition are available from the thumbnails.