Probably the historically most important of all the enclosures to any of Wallace's correspondence in the Wallace Family Archive at the Natural History Museum, London, is an offprint of the famous 1858 Darwin-Wallace paper on natural selection - the scientific article which launched the evolution revolution. This paper is widely regarded as being one of the most important scientific papers of all time, and what is special about the NHM's copy is that it was owned and annotated by Wallace. A pdf of this document is now available for the first time.
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Although letters are the focus of our project, we will make other Wallace-related manuscripts available if we a) already have copies of them in digital form, or b) if we need to make scans of them because they are useful to our project in some way. A good case in point are Wallace's two surviving address books, which we are fortunate to have in the Wallace Family Archive here at the Natural History Museum in London.
The WCP is looking for 2 enthusiastic volunteers to join our small team at the Natural History Museum, London, for one day a week to assist with various project tasks.
We are looking for someone with;
- Good IT skills
- Attention to detail
- Experience of using databases
- Experience of cataloguing
- Interest in history of science/Victorian history
In 2010 Wallace's grandson John very kindly donated about 600 assorted documents which had belonged to his grandfather to the Wallace Family Archive at the Natural History Museum, London. Amongst them was a copy of ARW's will, which I have just finished creating a pdf version of. Since it makes quite interesting reading I have decided to put a copy of it on this Website - click HERE to download the 3.48 MB pdf file.
After several days of work I have managed to migrate the data from a 116 page MS Word table which lists all of the British Library's (BL) Wallace correspondence, into the Project's Access database. This table was produced by our previous Archivist Anna Mayer, who visited the BL numerous times in order to carefully thumb through and catalogue all of their Wallace letters. Our database now holds records for a grand total of 3100 letters. Of these 1200 are deposited in the NHM and 1600 are in the BL.
On behalf of the WCP project team, I'd like to thank everyone who has volunteered to transcribe some letters for us. We have had such an overwhelming response, with over 50 expressions of interest, that we've had to limit the number of volunteers to 30 for now.
I will be keeping a reserve list of all those who have kindly responded and will be in touch should any further opportunities arise.
I am please to report that thanks to help from Simon Rycroft of the Scratchpad Project team, the WCP's Wallace Forum is now up and running and eager for users (http://wallaceletters.info/forum)!!! The Forum was created both as a venue for volunteer transcribers to discuss problems they might be having trying to decipher difficult handwriting etc, and also for anyone else who wants to talk about any aspect of Wallace's life and work with like minded people.
I have just put a new version of the WCP's transcription protocol up on the Transcription page of this website - click on the following link if you want to download it: http://wallaceletters.myspecies.info/sites/wallaceletters.myspecies.info/files/WCP_Transcription_Protocol.Version_6_0.pdf The protocol was revised with helpful suggestions from Charles Smith, Anna Mayer, John van Wyhe, Caroline Catchpole and Efram Sera-Shriar.
The Wallace Correspondence Project is looking for dedicated volunteers to help us transcribe letters written by Wallace, as well as letters sent to him from his many correspondents. Ideally we would like volunteers who already have experience of transcribing (sometimes difficult) Victorian handwriting, but enthusiasm and persistence are more important, and we will provide a palaeography guide!
On Wednesday 2nd November I attended the Darwin Lecture 2011, an annual lecture jointly organised by the Society of Medicine and the Linnean Society. The Lecture, held at the Royal Society of Medicine was given by Sir David Attenborough and was entitled 'Alfred Russel Wallace and the Birds of Paradise'.