Darwin’s Origin turns 150

    150 years ago, Charles Darwin published his famous book, On the Origin of Species. Tuesday, the American Philosophical Society is feting this anniversary with a cake, a Darwin-quoting bard, and some of its collection of original Darwin papers.

    150 years ago, Charles Darwin published his famous book, On the Origin of Species. Tuesday, the American Philosophical Society is feting this anniversary with a cake, a Darwin-quoting bard, and some of its collection of original Darwin papers.

    Listen:

    [audio:091123kgdarwin.mp3]

    Hand-written segments of Darwin’s books and letters are on display at the American Philosophical Society museum. Sue Ann Prince is the director of the museum, and she curated the Dialogs with Darwin exhibit.

    Prince: We have the largest collection of Darwin materials outside of Cambridge, England.

    Prince says the Society has been collecting Darwin since 1950.

    Prince: A president of the APS who was president in the 1930s and 1940s made the statement that he thought the APS should be collecting as many Darwin materials as Frankliniana — and that was of course almost heresy here at the APS. But the reason we do collect Darwin is because one of our major areas of collecting is the history of science.

    The collection includes some rare Darwin gems, such as a hand written draft of the book’s title, and letters voicing Darwin’s concern about the book’s impending controversy.

    Prince:
    Recently we also acquired a major collection of Darwin books from a collector who over 50 years set about to collect as many first editions as possible of On the Origin of Species and in as many languages as possible.

    Darwin’s book formed the foundation of the theory of evolution, but only once does he use the word “evolved” in his book, in the very last sentence.

    Prince: “And that whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity from so simple a beginning, endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been and are being evolved.”

    Even Darwin’s book evolved. Visitors can see the original title for On the Origin of Species at the exhibit, which runs through next October.

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