Portrait of Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882), Biologist
Originally uploaded by Smithsonian Institution
“The cultivation of natural science cannot be efficiently carried on without reference to an extensive library.” (1)
– Charles Darwin, et al (1847)
Today, February 12, 2009, we celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. Later this year will be yet another landmark date for Darwin, the sesquicentennial (mark your calenders now for November 24th!) of the publication of On the Origin of Species (1859).
The Smithsonian Institution Libraries is a key member of the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) Project, a consortium of ten natural history and botanical garden libraries engaged in the task of digitizing the worlds taxonomic literature.
Those working in systematics and taxonomy are heavily dependent on the historic literature – to a greater extent than perhaps most of the sciences. This importance of the literature, as well as the ongoing importance of publication (and library deposit) to validate taxonomic concepts, contribute to the mission and continue to inform the day to day development of the BHL.
This portrait of Darwin, by Ernest Edwards, is blogged from the Flickr Commons. Staff from the Smithsonian Libraries are part of a team from across the Smithsonian pushing our photo collections out into a new environment. This portrait of Darwin has inspired the Flickr community to comment on Darwin the man and his contribution to science.
Scientific Identity: Portraits from the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology. Smithsonian Institution Libraries, is the source for this portrait of Darwin. Scientific Identity is a treasure trove of portraits of scientists and inventors from over the years, including many of Darwin's coevals.
Darwin himself acknowledged the importance of library materials to the study of natural history in the passage quoted above (in a document signed by Darwin and over 30 other notables including Charles Lyell, W.J. Hooker, and Richard Owen) which was part of an appeal for support of natural history research at the British Museum. —Martin Kalfatovic
Portrait of Charles Darwin by Ernest Edwards
Scientific Identity: Portraits from the Dibner Library of the History
of Science and Technology. Smithsonian Institution Libraries
(1) Darwin, C. R. et al. 1847. Copy of Memorial to the First Lord of the Treasury [Lord John Russell], respecting the Management of the British Museum.
Parliamentary Papers, Accounts and Papers 1847, paper number (268),
volume XXXIV.253 (13 April): 1-3. [Complete Works of Charles Darwin