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Charles Darwin and the Question of Evolution A Brief History with Documents



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The publication of Charles Darwin'sOn the Origin of Speciesin 1859 is widely regarded as a turning point in knowledge of the natural world. But Darwin's theory of natural selection was not developed in a vacuum; rather, it represents the culmination of an enormous shift in scientific and popular opinion on the subject of species mutability from the late eighteenth century onward. Through her insightful introduction and engaging collection of documents, Sandra Herbert examines this era of scientific thought and the startling discoveries that led Darwin and others to the conclusion that life has evolved. A wide range of documents from over a dozen authors -- including letters, illustrations, scientific tracts, and excerpts from Darwin's own notebooks andOn the Origin of Species-- offer a fascinating glimpse into this crucial era of scientific thought. Thoughtful document headnotes, questions for consideration, a chronology, and a selected bibliography provide students with additional context and pedagogical support.

Author Biography

SANDRA HERBERT (Ph.D. Brandeis University) is Professor Emerita of History at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a fellow of the Geological Society of America, and a Research Associate at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History. A scholar of Charles Darwin, Herbert edited The Red Notebook of Charles Darwin (1980) and co-edited Charles Darwin's Notebooks, 1836-1844 (1987). Her book Charles Darwin: Geologist (2005), won the Geology Society of America's Mary C. Rabbitt Award, the History of Science Society's Suzanne J. Levinson Book Award, the American Historical Association's George L. Mosse Prize, and the North American Conference on British Studies' Albion Book Prize.

Table of Contents

List of Maps and Illustrations
PART ONE. Introduction:  Development of the Theory of Evolution
     Late Eighteenth-Century Sources of Evolutionary Ideas
     Evolutionary and Anti-Evolutionary Currents in Early Nineteenth Century Thought
     Charles Darwin and the Evolution Debate
     The Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, 1831-1836
     Darwin's Development of a Theory
     The Birth of On the Origin of Species
     Response to Darwin's On the Origin of Species

PART TWO. The Documents
1. The Question of Evolution Arises
     1.  Carl Linnaeus, Genera Plantarum:  The Families of Plants, 1787
     2.  Alexander von Humboldt, Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions of the New Continent during the Years 1799-1804
     3.  Erasmus Darwin, The Temple of Nature; or the Origin of Society, 1803
     4.  Josiah Wedgwood, “Am I Not a Man and a Brother?” 1787
          An American Version, 1837
     5.  Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1787
     6.  Georges Cuvier, Essay on the Theory of the Earth, with Mineralogical Illustrations by Professor Jameson, 1822
     7.  Thomas Robert Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population, 1798
     8.  William Paley, Natural Theology, 1802
     9.  Jean Baptiste de Lamarck, Zoological Philosophy, 1809
     10.  Charles Lyell, Principles of Geology, 1832
     11.  John Herschel, Letter to Charles Lyell, 1836
2.   Charles Darwin Addresses the Question of Evolution
     12.  Charles Darwin, Journal of Researches, 1839
     13.  Richard Owen, Glyptodon clavipes, (Gigantic Extinct Armadillo), 1845
     14.  Charles Darwin, Ornithological Notes, 1836
     15.  Charles Darwin, Notebook B, 1837
     16.  Emma Darwin, Letter to Charles Darwin, c. February 1839
     17.  Roderick Murchison, Presidential Address to the Geological Society of London, 1843
     18.  [Robert Chambers,] Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation, 1844
     19.  Alfred Russel Wallace, On the Law Which Has Regulated the Introduction of New Species, 1855
     20.  Charles Darwin, Letter to Asa Gray, 1857
     21.  Alfred Russel Wallace, Recollections,    1858
     22.  Charles Darwin, Recollections, 1831-1858
     23.  Whitwell Elwin, Letter to John Murray, 1859
     24.  Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, 1859
     25.  Athenaeum Report on the 1860 Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science 
     26.  Asa Gray, Review of the Origin, 1860
     27.   Louis Agassiz, Review of the Origin, 1860
     28.  Grave Sites of Asa Gray and Louis Agassiz, Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Massachusetts
     29.  Charles Darwin and Asa Gray, Letters, 1861-1866
     A Chronology of the History of Evolutionary Ideas (1739-1882)
     Questions for Consideration
     Selected Bibliography

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