Wallace's Notebooks etc

The Wallace Correspondence Project (WCP) has not only catalogued Wallace's letters (transcripts of which are available online in EPSILON), but also all of his other manuscripts, artwork etc, plus important documents written by family members. There are a total of 476 of these 'non-letter' manuscripts, and images of most of them can be viewed in the WCP's old online archive, Wallace Letters Online - CLICK HERE for a list1. Wallace Letters Online was produced during Phase 1 of the WCP and should not be used for Wallace's letters, since much work was done on them (but not the other manuscripts) during Phase 2 of the project.

Perhaps the most important of all Wallace's 'non-letter' manuscripts and artwork are his various notebooks, plus the palm and fish drawings and notes he rescued from his cabin before his ship sank on his return journey from Brazil to England in 1852.  These have been scanned by the Natural History Museum, London (NHM) and the Linnean Society (LS) and are listed below with their WCP cataloguing codes.

THE AMAZON (1848 - 1852)

WCP5802: Drawings of palm trees. These are in the manuscript of ARW's 1853 book, Palm Trees of the Amazon and Their Uses. (Repository: LS). CLICK HERE

WCP6295: Drawings of fish from the Rio Negro, bound in 4 volumes. (Repository: NHM). CLICK HERE [These drawings have been published in Wallace, A. R. 2002. Peixes do Rio Negro / Fishes of the Rio Negro (organization, introductory text and translation by Mônica de Toledo-Piza Ragazzo). Editora da Universidade de São Paulo, Imprensa Oficial do Estado, São Paulo: (1)-(7), 8-517]

"Fishes of the Amazon & Rio Negro": Descriptions of fishes of the Amazon and the Rio Negro, bound in 4 volumes. (Repository: NHM): WCP5652: CLICK HERE, WCP6285: CLICK HERE, WCP6284: CLICK HERE, WCP6286: CLICK HERE


WCP5799: Field notebook with lists of birds and beetles collected in Singapore & Malacca in 1854. (Repository: LS). CLICK HERE

WCP4766: Field notebook with lists of insects, birds and other animals collected from 1855 - 1860. (Repository: NHM). CLICK HERE

WCP4767: Field notebook with lists of insects and birds collected from 1858 - 1866. (Repository: NHM). CLICK HERE

WCP5800: Notebook, named the "Species Notebook" by McKinney. Inscribed "Notes vertebrata" on front cover; "Notes insecta" on back cover. (Repository: LS). CLICK HERE [An annotated transcript was published by Costa in 2013.]

Malay Archipelago journal in 4 volumes (Repository: NHM). This contemporary account of Wallace's journey was used by him to write his 1869 scientific travelogue The Malay Archipelago: WCP5795 (vol. 1): CLICK HEREWCP5796 (vol. 2): CLICK HERE, WCP5797 (vol. 3): CLICK HERE, WCP5798 (vol. 4): CLICK HERE. [Note that Michael B. Pearson transcribed these in 2002 and that copies of his transcripts were deposited in the LS]

LATER NOTEBOOKS (1862 - 1913)

WCP5801: Notebook on butterflies of the Malay Archipelago with systematic notes and drawings. Inscribed "Eastern Butterflies" on front cover. (Repository: LS). CLICK HERE [The first part contains detailed notes which were used by him to write: Wallace, A. R. 1865. On the phenomena of variation and geographical distribution as illustrated by the Papilionidae of the Malayan Region. Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, 25(I): 1-71. CLICK HERE]

WCP4806: Notebook containing details of finances and investments at one end, and addresses at the other. It was used by ARW from c. 1864 to c. 1875. (Repository: NHM). CLICK HERE

WCP4779: Address book and notebook, used by ARW from c. 1873 to c. 1913. (Repository: NHM). CLICK HERE

WCP5532: Bank account notebook, used by ARW from 1864 - 1874. (Repository: NHM). CLICK HERE

WCP5223: Notebook containing details of séances, a list of converts to spiritualism, poetry, statistics on exports, a study of his children from birth, and lists of plants species. It was used by ARW from c. 1865 to c. 1889. (Repository: NHM). CLICK HERE

WCP5794: Journal recording Wallace's travels in North America 1886 - 1887. (Repository: LS): CLICK HERE [An annotated transcript was published by Smith, C. H. & Derr, M. (Eds). 2013. Alfred Russel Wallace's 1886-1887 Travel Diary; The North American Lecture Tour. Manchester, U.K.: Siri Scientific Press. 258 pp.]

Please note that the copyright of the images of the above documents is owned by the respective repositories, whilst the copyright of the text is owned by Wallace's Literary Estate.


1. Wallace Letters Online contains records and images of many of Wallace's manuscripts. To find an item, check the "Manuscript" box, and search for a relevant keyword e.g. "sketch", "drawing", "painting" - see image below.


Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith