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Darwin Correspondence Project

Who we were


DAR 219: 12
The Darwin family at Down House
Cambridge University Library

Many people have contributed to the Darwin Correspondence Project since it was first founded in 1974. Some names are now lost to us, and we would appreciate hearing from anyone who has contributed in the past and is not listed here.

The final staff of the Darwin Correspondence Project were based in Cambridge, UK, in the University Library and at the Department for the History and Philosophy of Science. They were:

Prof James A. Secord (Director)
Jim Secord has served as Director of the Darwin Correspondence Project since 2006. He is a fellow of Christ’s College, and Professor of History and Philosophy of Science, Cambridge, and for 2013-15 was Head of Department. Besides his work for the Darwin Project, his research is on the history of science from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth centuries, and he has published many articles and several books, including Controversy in Victorian Geology (Princeton, 1986) and editions of the works of Mary Somerville, Charles Lyell, and Robert Chambers. Victorian Sensation: The Extraordinary Publication, Reception, and Secret Authorship of Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation (Chicago, 2000), is an account of the public debates about evolution in the mid-nineteenth century, won the Pfizer Prize of the History of Science Society, and he has edited a selection of Darwin’s evolutionary writings in the Oxford World’s Classics series, which includes a fresh transcription of the autobiographical Recollections and responses to Darwin’s books from around the world. Most recently he published Visions of Science: Books and Readers at the Dawn of the Victorian Age (OUP, 2014).
Dr Alison Pearn (Associate Director)
Alison joined the Project in 1996. Her background is in history, with a BA from Oxford, and a PhD from Cambridge. She curated the University Library’s Darwin Bicentenary exhibition, and edited a companion book, A Voyage Round the World: Charles Darwin and the Beagle Collections of the University of Cambridge (CUP 2009). She is the author of Darwin: All that matters, published in 2015 by John Murray Learning.  Alison is responsible for the day-to-day management of all aspects of the Darwin Project, including its outreach programme, gives both academic and popular lectures on its work, and has appeared on radio programmes such as BBC Radio 4’s In our Time, and Woman’s Hour.

Mrs Rosemary Clarkson (Research Assistant and Associate Editor)
Rosy has a degree in Greek and Latin and is a trained archivist. In addition to assisting with research, she is the initial point of contact for the Project, answering a wide range of queries from academic colleagues and the public. She also keeps the office running, transcribes letter texts, researches obscure individuals mentioned in letters and helps maintain the research database.

Dr Samantha Evans (Editor and Research Associate)
Samantha joined the Project in 1997. Her background is in classics and publishing. In addition to research and editing, she copy-edits all editorial material, supervises the in-house production process, and liaises with CUP production editors. She is the author of Darwin and women: a selection of letters.

Ms Amparo Gimeno-Sanjuan (Editorial Associate)
Amparo joined us in 2017 to help with all aspects of both print and online production. She has a particular responsibility for the production of The Correspondence of Charles Darwin volumes, including in-house typesetting and scientific diagram preparation. She also assists with research and uses her romance languages skills for translating historical material, and communicating with the Project’s partners.

Dr Michael Hawkins (Technical Director)
Mike is responsible for all technical aspects. Since completing his PhD on Thomas Willis’s neurocartography of the passions in 2004 at the Centre for History of Science, Technology and Medicine at Imperial College, London, he has served in simlar roles for numerous digital humanities projects, including the Newton Project and Enlightening Science (both at the University of Oxford), Livingstone Online (Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL) and the British Living Standards Project (University of Sussex). He was also the Project Manager of Windows on Genius (University of Sussex, Cambridge University Library). In addition to his duties at the Darwin Correspondence Project, Hawkins is also the Technical Director of The Casebooks Project (History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge), The Cambridge Platonists Project (Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge) and the Wordsworth Project (University of Cambridge & Newcastle, Cambridge University Library).

Ms Shelley Innes (Editor and Research Associate)
Shelley’s background is in the history of zoology, but since joining the Project in 2000, she has become an enthusiastic follower of Darwin’s botanical work as well. Her favourite correspondent is Fritz Müller. In addition to general research and editing, she is the primary editor for German and Russian letters.

Dr Francis Neary (Editor, Research Associate and Head of Web Development)
Francis joined the Project in 2011. His research interests include history of modern medical technologies, history and philosophy of psychology (especially human consciousness and the self from the late 19th century), scientific biography and museology and the material culture of science and medicine. With John Pickstone and Julie Anderson, he is the author of Surgeons, Manufacturers and Patients: A transatlantic history of hip replacement (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2007). Francis has curated a number of exhibitions, including ‘Darwin the Geologist’ a permanent exhibit commissioned by the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, Cambridge, for the Darwin Bicentenary in 2009. He was lead curator on ‘Books and Babies’ (2011) and co-curated ‘Curious Objects’ (2016—17) and ‘Darwin in Conversation’ (2022) at Cambridge University Library. From 2016, he managed this website, taking responsibility for developing new content and reaching new audiences.

Dr Anne Secord (Editor and Research Associate)
Anne was trained in the history of science at London University. She rejoined the Project in October 2010 as an editor, having worked as assistant editor on the first seven volumes of Darwin’s correspondence. The focus of her research and writings has been on popular, particularly working-class, natural history in nineteenth-century Britain, and on horticulture, medicine and consumption in the eighteenth century. She is the editor of an edition of Gilbert White’s Natural History of Selborne (Oxford World's Classics, 2016), and is completing a book to be published by the University of Chicago Press, that explores social class, observation, and skill in nineteenth-century natural history.

Elizabeth Smith (Associate Editor - Technical Development)
Elizabeth has an MPhil in HPS from Cambridge and has worked for the Newton Project Canada. She originally joined the Darwin Project as a research assistant before taking on responsibility for some aspects of technical development.  She was one of the team who converted the Project's core files to TEI XML, and is now developing and implementing strategies to ensure the quality, robustness, interoperability, and long-term viability of our electronic data.

Ms Sally Stafford (Head of Learning)
Sally worked with teachers and pupils at a range of primary and secondary schools to develop our web-based teaching resources for 7-14 year olds. The letters provide many opportunities for cross-curricular study through the unique insight they offer of Darwin’s life and times. She established ‘Exploring Evolution’ partnership training days, designed to support trainee teachers to feel more confident and inspired when teaching evolution. She co-developed a series of website interactives entitled ‘For the Curious’ to explore the aspects of Darwin’s work and life that she was most frequently asked about, when talking to adults who are were simply curious. Sally has a background in the heritage sector and in developing learning and interpretation resources for schools, families and adult learners.

Dr Paul White (Editor and Research Associate)
Paul joined the Project in 1997. He regularly teaches in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science in Cambridge and has helped develop the Project’s teaching materials for schools and universities. His special interests include the history of the emotions, and the interface of science and literature. He is author of Thomas Huxley: Making the ‘man of science’ (Cambridge University Press, 2003), and various articles on science and Victorian culture.

The following are among those former staff and associates who have contributed to the work of the Darwin Correspondence Project since its inception in 1974:

  • Doris E. Andrews 
  • Geoff Belknap
  • Sarah Benton
  • Charlotte Bowman
  • Heidi Bradshaw
  • Pamela J. Brant 
  • Janet Browne
  • Anne Schlabach Burkhardt
  • Fred Burkhardt
  • P. Thomas Carroll
  • Finlay Clarkson
  • Andy Corrigan
  • Stefanie Cookson 
  • Henry Cowles
  • Matthew Dawes
  • Sheila Ann Dean
  • Sophie Defrance
  • Mario Di Gregorio
  • Rhonda Edwards
  • Katie Ericksen Baca
  • Deborah Fitzgerald 
  • Kate Fletcher
  • Megan Formato
  • Hedy Franks
  • Jane Mork Gibson
  • Nick Gill
  • Ruth Goldstone
  • Philippa Hardman
  • Joy Harvey
  • Arne Hessenbruch
  • Thomas Horrocks
  • Dorothy Huffman 
  • Rachel Iliffe
  • Andrew Inkpen
  • Zusana Jakubisinova Toci
  • Christine M. Joyner 
  • Thomas Junker
  • Rebecca Kelley
  • Joan W. Kimball 
  • Barbara A. Kimmelman 
  • David Kohn
  • Jyothi Krishnan-Unni
  • Sam Kuper
  • Kathleen Lane
  • Sarah Lavelle
  • Margot Levy
  • Robert Lindsey
  • Jean Macqueen
  • Nancy Mautner
  • Anna K. Mayer
  • William Montgomery
  • Eleanor Moore
  • Leslie Nye
  • Perry O’Donovan
  • Martin Oldfield
  • Muriel Palmer
  • Ann Parry
  • Myrna Perez Sheldon 
  • Stephen V. Pocock
  • Duncan Porter
  • John A. Reesman 
  • Marsha L. Richmond
  • Peter Saunders
  • Andrew Sclater
  • Tracey Slotta
  • Sydney Smith
  • Alison Soanes
  • Emma Spary
  • Alistair Sponsel
  • Nora Carroll Stevenson
  • Edith Stewart 
  • Jenna Tonn
  • Jonathan R. Topham
  • Charissa Varma
  • Tyler Veak
  • Ellis Weinberger
  • Béatrice Willis
  • Sarah Wilmot
  • Rebecca Woods

Between 2009 and 2013, supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Science Foundation, we had a group of colleagues based in the History of Science Department, Harvard, under the direction of Professor Janet Browne. They were Geoff Belknap, Katie Ericksen Baca, Megan Formato, Andrew Inkpen, Myrna Perez Sheldon, Alistair Sponsel, Jenna Tonn, and Rebecca Woods. We are most grateful to the Department for providing space and facilities for the duration of the grants.

We are similarly grateful to Cornell University for providing office space and facilities to our colleague Sheila Ann Dean over a number of years.

In this section:

The Darwin Correspondence Project was an independently funded research team, jointly managed by Cambridge University Library and the American Council of Learned Societies, and affiliated to the Department of History and Philosophy of Science in Cambridge.   It finished the 30 volume print run of The Correspondence of Charles Darwin in 2023 and disbanded.

It located and researched letters written by and to the evolutionary scientist, Charles Darwin (1809–1882), and published complete transcripts together with contextual notes and articles.  Darwin’s letters are an essential resource for understanding the development of his own ideas, and are an important source for the lives and work of more than 2000 correspondents and others mentioned in the letters. 

A 30-volume print edition of The Correspondence of Charles Darwin (Cambridge University Press, 1985–), was completed in 2023, and contains more than 15000 letters, around 9000 of which are in Cambridge University Library’s Darwin Archive.  The letters are freely available to read and search on this website and on Epsilon.  Images of original letters are being incorporated through collaboration with Cambridge Digital Library.