This website provides access to the complete set of known letters written by and to Charles Darwin. It publishes the transcripts alongside contextual notes and articles. The site contains reference to more than 2000 people who are either direct correspondents or individuals mentioned in the letters.
The site contains extensive notes and commentary, organized in multiple ways, with a focus on correspondent and topic. It also includes learning resources for all age groups from age 7 to university. It also contains audio and video resources on a wide variety of topics ranging from historical discussions of science and religion or Darwin and women to inside views of working in the archives and editing the letters.
The site grew out of the print project begun in 1974, which has, over the years produced 24 volumes (to date) and is expected to produce a total of 30 print volumes. The support of major institutions has made it possible for the project to maintain a consistent level of very high quality work by some of the best scholars in the field.
Darwin Online is an online edition of the complete writings of Charles Darwin, containing over 212,000 pages of text and 220,000 images from his published writings and about 20,000 items from Darwin’s private papers and manuscripts (about 100,000 images). There is at least one exemplar of all known Darwin publications in their many editions, and that includes the many foreign-language editions that have been published. All are reproduced at very high quality standards, both as searchable text and electronic images of the originals. Most of the sources have been edited and annotated.
The site was developed by the Darwin scholar John van Wyhe (Dept. of Biological Sciences & Tembusu College, National University of Singapore) and is currently supported by Cambridge University Library, the University of Cambridge, the National University of Singapore, and a host of other institutions. It has introductory essays written by fourteen other prominent Darwin scholars. The site itself is produced with the highest quality academic standards, but it seeks to reach a general audience of interested non-specialists as well. The organization of the site is straightforward and easy to follow.
This site is an example of one of the most successful of the early 21st-century primary-source digital publications, having been started as a prototype in 2002 by van Wyhe and achieving world-wide attention when the current site first went public in 2006.