While institutional science was largely off-limits to Victorian women, Darwin’s correspondence sheds light on a community of women who participated – often routinely – in the nineteenth-century scientific community. In the correspondence women can be found making observations, conducting experiments, undertaking fieldwork, editing texts, providing samples and engaging in critical discussion about Darwin’s works.
As this module will show, Darwin’s attitude towards women’s scientific and intellectual capabilities was complex, as were the varied motivations which lay behind the scientific participation of his women correspondents.
This module is divided into four sections, accessible through the links below:
Becker, L. E. B., Botany for Novices: A Short Outline of the Natural System of Classification of Plants, (London, 1864).
Blackwell, A. L. B., Studies in General Science, (New York, 1869).
Buckley, A., The Fairy-Land of Science, (London, 1879; Philadelphia 1888).
Lubbock, E., ‘The Ancient Shell-Mounds of Denmark’ in Galton, F. (ed.), Vacation Tourists and Notes of Travel, (London, 1864), pp. 357 – 371.
Somerville, M., On Molecular and Microscopic Science, (London, 1869).
Treat, M., ‘Is the Valve of Utricularia Sensitive?’, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine 52:309 (February, 1876), pp. 382 – 387.
‘Carnivorous Plants of Florida’, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine 53:316 (September, 1876), pp. 546 – 548.
‘Home Observations in Florida’, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine 55:327 (August, 1877), pp. 365 – 368.
Waddy, F., Cartoon portraits and biographical sketches of men of the day: Dr Garrett Anderson, (London, 1873), p. 30.
Barker, H. & Chalus, E. (eds.), Women’s History, Britain 1750 – 1850: An Introduction, (Oxford, 2005), especially ‘Women and Work’ pp. 124-151.
Bernstein, S. D., ‘‘Supposed Differences’: Lydia Becker and Victorian Women’s Participation in the BAAS’ in Clifford, D., Wadge, E., Warwick, A., & Willis, M. (eds.), Repositioning Victorian Society: Shifting Centres in Nineteenth-Century Scientific Thinking (London, 2006).
Deutscher, P., ‘The Descent of Man and the Evolution of Woman’, Hypatia, Vol. 19: 2 (Spring, 2004), pp. 35-55.
Farr, P., Pandora’s Breeches: Women, Science and Power in the Enlightenment (London, 2004).
Gianquitto, M., ‘’Good Observers of Nature’: American Women and the Scientific Study of the Natural World, 1820 – 1885, (Georgia, 2007).
Harvey, J., ‘‘Darwin’s Angels’: The Women Correspondents of Charles Darwin’, Intellectual History Review 19:2 (2009), pp. 197 – 210.
Lightman, B., Victorian Popularizers of Science: Designing Nature for New Audiences (Chicago, 2007).
Numbers, R. L. & Stenhouse, J., (eds.), Disseminating Darwinism: The Role of Place, Race, Religion and Gender, (Cambridge, 1999).
Rossiter, M. W., Women Scientists in America, Struggles and Strategies to 1940 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982).
Rosser, S. V., Women, Science, and Myth: Gender Beliefs from Antiquity to the Present, (California, 2008).
Schteir, A. B., Cultivating Women, Cultivating Science: Flora’s Daughters and Botany in England, 1760 – 1860. (John Hopkins University Press, 1996).
Sheffield, S. L., Women and Science: Social Impact and Interaction, (Rutgers, 2004).