Cambridge University reports Darwin’s notebooks stolen after massive search

Cambridge University curators said Tuesday that they believe two long-missing notebooks used by Charles Darwin were stolen.



a large brick building with grass and trees: Cambridge University reports Darwin's notebooks stolen after massive search


© Getty Images
Cambridge University reports Darwin’s notebooks stolen after massive search

The two so-called Transmutation Notebooks have been missing since 2001, and were originally thought to have been lost somewhere in the university’s archives, according to NBC News.

However, Jessica Gardner, the university librarian and director of library services, said Cambridge has concluded the notebooks were stolen after conducting the “largest search in the library’s history” to no avail.

The university added that the materials may yet be found within the archives during the continued search, which is ongoing and may take up to five more years. The archive contains more than 130 miles of shelved books.

One of the two notebooks contains the naturalist’s famed “Tree of Life” sketch, an early attempt at illustrating his theory of evolution more than 20 years before he published “On the Origin of Species,” according to NBC.

“I am heartbroken that the location of these Darwin notebooks, including Darwin’s iconic ‘Tree of Life’ drawing, is currently unknown, but we’re determined to do everything possible to discover what happened and will leave no stone unturned during this process,” Gardner said in a statement.

“We would be hugely grateful to hear from any staff, past or present, members of the book trade, researchers, or the public at large, with information that might assist in the recovery of the notebooks,” she added.

Interpol has added the notebooks to its database of stolen art, according to NBC.

Continue Reading

Source Article

Read more

Cambridge University says Darwin’s iconic notebooks, missing for years, were stolen

Two notebooks written by the famed British naturalist Charles Darwin in 1837 and missing for years may have been stolen from the Cambridge University Library, according to curators who launched a public appeal Tuesday for information.

The notebooks, estimated to be worth millions of dollars, include Darwin’s celebrated “Tree of Life” sketch that the 19th-century scientist used to illustrate early ideas about evolution. Officials at the Cambridge University Library say the two notebooks have been missing since 2001, and it’s now thought that they were stolen.

Charles Darwin’s 1837 “Tree of Life” sketch. Cambridge University Library

“I am heartbroken that the location of these Darwin notebooks, including Darwin’s iconic ‘Tree of Life’ drawing, is currently unknown, but we’re determined to do everything possible to discover what happened and will leave no stone unturned during this process,” Jessica Gardner, the university librarian and director of library services, said in a statement.

The manuscripts, known as the Transmutation Notebooks, were written by Darwin after he returned from circumnavigating the world aboard the HMS Beagle. The ambitious survey mission, conducted between 1831 and 1836, helped shape the scientist’s views about species classification, natural selection and evolution.

Darwin’s seminal work, “On the Origin of Species,” was published more than two decades after he scribbled out his iconic “Tree of Life” sketch in one of the missing notebooks.

The lost manuscripts were initially thought to have been misplaced in the university’s enormous archives, which house roughly 10 million books, maps and other objects. But an exhaustive search initiated at the start of 2020 — the “largest search in the library’s history,” according to Gardner — failed to turn up the notebooks and they are now being reported as stolen.

Cambridge University officials said a police investigation is underway and the notebooks have been added to Interpol’s database of stolen artworks.

The library is also asking for the public’s help for information about the lost notebooks.

“Someone, somewhere, may have knowledge or insight that can help us return these notebooks to their proper place at the heart of the U.K.’s cultural and scientific heritage,” Gardner said.

Information about the missing notebooks can be reported to the Cambridge University Library at [email protected] or filed anonymously to the Cambridgeshire Police or Crimestoppers.

Source Article

Read more

Darwin’s iconic notebooks have been missing for years. Now, Cambridge University says they were stolen.

Two notebooks written by the famed British naturalist Charles Darwin in 1837 and missing for years may have been stolen from the Cambridge University Library, according to curators who launched a public appeal Tuesday for information.



text, letter


© Provided by NBC News


The notebooks, estimated to be worth millions of dollars, include Darwin’s celebrated “Tree of Life” sketch that the 19th-century scientist used to illustrate early ideas about evolution. Officials at the Cambridge University Library say the two notebooks have been missing since 2001, and it’s now thought that they were stolen.

“I am heartbroken that the location of these Darwin notebooks, including Darwin’s iconic ‘Tree of Life’ drawing, is currently unknown, but we’re determined to do everything possible to discover what happened and will leave no stone unturned during this process,” Jessica Gardner, the university librarian and director of library services, said in a statement.

The manuscripts, known as the Transmutation Notebooks, were written by Darwin after he returned from circumnavigating the world aboard the HMS Beagle. The ambitious survey mission, conducted between 1831 and 1836, helped shape the scientist’s views about species classification, natural selection and evolution.

Darwin’s seminal work, “On the Origin of Species,” was published more than two decades after he scribbled out his iconic “Tree of Life” sketch in one of the missing notebooks.

The lost manuscripts were initially thought to have been misplaced in the university’s enormous archives, which house roughly 10 million books, maps and other objects. But an exhaustive search initiated at the start of 2020 — the “largest search in the library’s history,” according to Gardner — failed to turn up the notebooks and they are now being reported as stolen.

Cambridge University officials said a police investigation is underway and the notebooks have been added to Interpol’s database of stolen artworks.

The library is also asking for the public’s help for information about the lost notebooks.

“Someone, somewhere, may have knowledge or insight that can help us return these notebooks to their proper place at the heart of the U.K.’s cultural and scientific heritage,” Gardner said.

Information about the missing notebooks can be reported to the Cambridge University Library at [email protected] or filed anonymously to the Cambridgeshire Police or Crimestoppers.

Continue Reading

Source Article

Read more

Charles Darwin’s notebooks, worth millions, stolen from Cambridge University Library

Survival of the fittest apparently extends to notebooks.

The notebooks of Charles Darwin and were reported stolen from the Cambridge University Library, The Associated Press reported Tuesday.

Even Interpol has been notified of the alleged theft, which is being investigated by police.



text, letter: A


© Mario Tama
A

A “Tree of Life” sketch is seen in Darwin’s “B” notebook at an exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. (Mario Tama/)

Included in the pair of notebooks, which are estimated to be worth millions, is the “Tree of Life” sketch by the scientist, who died in 1882.

Though the prized possessions haven’t been seen for two decades, library staff trusted the notebooks must be lost somewhere in the archives of the repository, which boasts more than 130 miles of shelving and nearly 10 million books, manuscripts, and more. After an in-depth search through 189 boxes in the Darwin Archive proved fruitless, they concluded the manuscripts must have been nabbed.

University librarian Jessica Gardner, who also serves as director of library services, noted the theory that the notebooks had been “mis-shelved or misfiled” is now “not a sufficient position or set of actions to take.”

In 1866, fellow British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, suggested that Darwin replace his “natural selection” theory with that of “survival of the fittest,” a term coined by Herbert Spencer two years prior after he read Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species.”

With News Wire Services

Continue Reading

Source Article

Read more

Darwin’s early notebooks on evolution feared “stolen” from Cambridge

London — Two of Charles Darwin‘s notebooks containing his pioneering ideas on evolution and his famous “Tree of Life” sketch are missing, believed stolen, the Cambridge University Library said on Tuesday. The British scientist filled the leather notebooks in 1837 after returning from his voyage on the HMS Beagle. The library said they were worth millions of pounds.



text, letter: darwin-tree-of-life.jpg


© Cambridge University Digital Library
darwin-tree-of-life.jpg



text, letter: Charles Darwin's


© Provided by CBS News
Charles Darwin’s

In one book, under the simple heading, “I think,” he drew a diagram showing several possibilities for the evolution of a species and later published a more developed illustration in his 1859 book “On the Origin of Species.

The University of Cambridge’s vast library first listed the notebooks as missing in 2001 after they were moved out of the Special Collections Strong Rooms to be photographed in a separate, temporary building amid construction work.



Charles Darwin smiling for the camera: Charles Darwin / Credit: Wikipedia


© Provided by CBS News
Charles Darwin / Credit: Wikipedia

They were long believed to have been incorrectly filed within the building following that excursion. Cambridge’s library contains around 10 million books, maps and manuscripts and has one of the world’s most significant Darwin archives.

However a major search this year — the largest in the library’s history — failed to turn up the notebooks.

“Curators have concluded the notebooks… have likely been stolen,” the library said in a statement.

It said it had informed local police and the books had been listed on Interpol’s database of stolen artworks, called Psyche.

The University Librarian, Jessica Gardner, released a video statement appealing to the public to help.

“It is deeply regretful to me that these notebooks remain missing despite numerous wide-scale searches over the last 20 years,” she said, adding that the library has since massively improved its security systems with both technology and tighter protocols for staff.

The statement released by Cambridge noted that the search for the books would continue inside its cavernous library because, while they suspect theft, they cannot yet rule out misplacement.

Cambridge said its Special Collections Strong Rooms alone were home to some 28 miles of shelving. It would take the school at least another five years to finish scouring that space for any sign of the missing books.



a close up of a box: Charles Darwin's


© Provided by CBS News
Charles Darwin’s

The librarian suggested that former or current library staff, those working in the book trade or researchers could have information.

“I would ask anyone who thinks they know of the notebooks’ whereabouts to get in touch. Please help,” she said.

The appeal was launched on November 24, known as Evolution Day as it marks the date of the publication of “On the Origin of Species.”

Continue Reading

Source Article

Read more

Charles Darwin’s notebooks reported stolen from Cambridge University | University of Cambridge

Two Charles Darwin manuscripts have been reported as stolen from Cambridge University library two decades after they were last seen.

Staff believed the precious items had been “mis-shelved” within the vast archives late in 2000 and the matter was not reported to Cambridgeshire police until 20 October this year. The force said it has launched an investigation and notified Interpol.

It is difficult to estimate the value of the notebooks, given their unique nature, but it would probably run into many millions of pounds, the library said.

The two notebooks, including Darwin’s seminal 1837 Tree of Life sketch, were removed from storage to be photographed at the library’s photographic unit, where the work was recorded as completed in November 2000.

During a subsequent routine check in January 2001 it was found that the small blue box containing the notebooks had not been returned to its proper place.

Dr Jessica Gardner, university librarian and director of library services since 2017, said: “My predecessors genuinely believed that what had happened was that these had been mis-shelved or misfiled and they took forward extensive searches over the years in that genuine belief.

“Now we have completely reviewed as a new team what happened and come to a conclusion that that’s not a sufficient position or set of actions to take.”

She said that “extensive building work” was taking place at the library at the time that the items were found to be missing.

There have been continuous searches since the notebooks went missing, she said, and it is now thought “likely that theft occurred”. Gardner reported the matter to the police.

An appeal for information has been launched on the advice of external experts, including at the Metropolitan police’s arts and antique specialist crime unit, Dr Gardner said. She said there were no leads.

Dr Mark Purcell, the deputy director of Research Collections, said he was confident the manuscripts could not be sold on the open market and it was possible they had “gone to ground”.

He said he hoped for a similar outcome to that of London’s Lambeth Palace, where items were stolen after bombing during the second world war.

“Forty-plus years later, quite literally as the consequence of a deathbed crisis of conscience, those items came to light and were returned to Lambeth and I think that’s the sort of outcome which we and all institutions of this kind would clearly wish to hope for,” he said.

Cambridge University library has more than 130 miles (210km) of shelving and is home to about 10m books, maps, manuscripts and other objects.

A fingertip search of key areas was carried out early this year, including the whole of the Darwin archive, which comprises 189 archive boxes, but this failed to locate the notebooks.

Gardner said that security policy was different 20 years ago, adding: “Today any such significant missing object would be reported as a potential theft immediately and a widespread search begun.”

She said: “I’m heartbroken. We’ve devoted the whole of our

Read more

Darwin’s handwritten pages from ‘On the Origin of Species’ go online for the first time

Darwin's handwritten pages from On the Origin of Species go online for the first time
Darwin’s handwritten letter to his former geology professor at Cambridge where he first mentioned his radical new book, On the Origin of Species Credit: Reproduced with the kind permission of a private collection, USA, and William Huxley Darwin

An extraordinary collection of priceless manuscripts of naturalist Charles Darwin goes online today, including two rare pages from the original draft of On the Origin of Species.


These documents will be added to Darwin Online, a website which contains not only the complete works of Darwin, but is possibly the most comprehensive scholarly portal on any historical individual in the world. The website is helmed by Dr. John van Wyhe, an eminent historian of science. He is a Senior Lecturer at the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Department of Biological Sciences, and Tembusu College.

“Darwin wrote the first draft of On the Origin of Species by hand. But the historical significance of this work was not yet known and almost all the manuscript was lost—with his children even using the pages as drawing paper! As such, these two pages are extremely rare survivors, and give unprecedented insight into the making of the book that changed the world,” explained Dr. van Wyhe.

Access to these rare artifacts comes exactly 161 years after the initial publication of On the Origin of Species on 24 November 1859, and coincides with Evolution Day, which commemorates the anniversary of this revolutionary book.

An unbelievably rare collection

Despite being one of the most important scientific works of all time, only a few portions of the original handwritten On the Origin of Species manuscript survive. Those which are being added to the Darwin Online project are two of only nine pages in private hands.

Other important manuscripts going online today include a draft page from Darwin’s other most revolutionary work The Descent of Man, and even the receipt for the book from Darwin’s publisher, “for the Sum of Six Hundred and thirty pounds for the first edition, consisting of 2,500 copies, of my work on the ‘Descent of Man’.”

There are also two draft pages from Darwin’s seminal The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals.

Unprecedented insights into Darwin’s work

A page that has never been made public before is some reading notes on ants that Darwin made during his research for On the Origin of Species. The notes informed his examination of slave-making ants which became one of the most widely talked about parts of his famous book.

In addition, there are three very important letters by Darwin. One 1859 letter was written to his former geology professor at Cambridge, Adam Sedgwick, as Darwin nervously sends his radical new On the Origin of Species. Two other important letters are to his colleagues, the biologist T. H. Huxley and the botanist Asa Gray.

Darwin’s handwriting is notoriously difficult to read. As such, the documents have been transcribed, and can be viewed side-by-side with the original manuscript. The newly released documents can be

Read more