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Darwin Correspondence Project


In 1991 the Modern Language Association of America awarded its first ever Morton N. Cohen Award for a Distinguished Edition of Letters to the editors of The correspondence of Charles Darwin. The Morton N. Cohen Award was established in 1989 by a gift from Morton N. Cohen, professor emeritus of English at the City University of New York, and is made biennially. The Award is given to an edition which provides readers with a clear, accurate, and readable text; necessary background information; and succinct and eloquent introductory material or annotations, and which is itself a work of literature.

The citation reads: In editing The correspondence of Charles Darwin, Frederick Burkhardt, Sydney Smith, and their collaborators have triumphantly met the monumental challenge presented by the varied contents, which range over nineteenth-century life from the domestic sphere to the frontiers of science. Providing extensive yet discreet annotation and luxurious but always pertinent front and back matter, the six volumes already published are not only meticulous in their scholarship but enjoyable to read, to consult, and even to browse through. Among numerous outstanding contenders for the first Morton N. Cohen Award, this virtually flawless edition sets a high standard for future competitions.

In 1997, the Project’s founder, Frederick Burkhardt, was awarded the Founders’ Medal of the Society for the History of Natural History. The medal is awarded to persons who have made “a substantial contribution to the study of the history or bibliography of natural history”.

In 2000 the Barra Foundation established the Burkhardt Fellowship and Burkhardt Symposium at the American Philosphical Society, in honour of the Project’s founder, Frederick Burkhardt.

The American Philosophical Society, the oldest learned society in the United States, presented the 2003 Thomas Jefferson Medal for Distinguished Achievement in the Arts, Humanities, or Social Sciences, to Frederick Burkhardt, the Project’s founding editor, in recognition of a lifetime of extraordinary service and distinguished achievement, including his role as guiding light and presiding inspiration of the Darwin Correspondence Project.

Queen’s Anniversary Prize in higher and further education

On 19 February 2003, at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace, Her Majesty the Queen presented the University of Cambridge with a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education for the Darwin Correspondence Project.  The Prizes, awarded every other year, recognise and reward the outstanding contribution that universities and colleges in the United Kingdom make to the intellectual, economic, cultural, and social life of the nation. The Prizes are awarded within the national honours system and are the highest honour available to academic institutions. The Project competed with many hundreds of applicants from the entire spectrum of educational endeavour in Britain to become one of the twenty winners for 2002.