Wallace finally gets on line

by Matthew Cobb

For several years now, the Darwin On Line website has published an amazing wealth of Darwiniana, including his books, letters, notes, private papers and so on. Now the man who many think should be consistently co-credited with the discovery of the theory of evolution by natural selection – Alfred Russel Wallace – has his own eponymous and compendious on-line site.

Wallace Online describes itself as

the first complete edition of the writings of naturalist and co-founder of the theory of evolution Alfred Russel Wallace. Including a comprehensive compilation of his specimens – much of it never before seen.

A remarkable amount of work has gone into this site – it contains 28,000 pages of searchable historical documents and 25,442 images. This breaks down as follows:

Wallace books: 13,205 pages
Shorter publications: 4,743 pages
Manuscripts: 26 pages
Supplementary works: 9,650 pages
PDFs: 642

It is a treasure trove for anyone interested in Wallace, Darwin, or the wildlife of south-east Asia.

Here are a couple of striking examples you can unearth with a few clicks:

On a topical note, there is also a copy of one of Wallace’s final works (1907), Is Mars habitable? A critical examination of Professor Percival Lowell’s Book “Mars and its canals,” with an alternative explanation.

The project is directed by John van Wyhe, assisted by Kees Rookmaaker, at the National University of Singapore, in collaboration with the Wallace Page by Charles H. Smith.

Head on over there and mooch around! Any students or scholars interested in comparing and contrasting the ideas of Wallace and Darwin will find it invaluable. For the rest of us it provides an amazing resource to explore Wallace’s work.

9 Comments

  1. corio37
    Posted October 2, 2012 at 1:08 am | Permalink

    The first thing you can do is get his name right — only one ‘l’ in Russel.

    • Matthew Cobb
      Posted October 2, 2012 at 1:36 am | Permalink

      Oh bum. That’s what comes from posting too quickly. Will fix when I can.

    • Matthew Cobb
      Posted October 2, 2012 at 1:56 am | Permalink

      Fixed, with apologies to the shade of ARW

  2. Dominic
    Posted October 2, 2012 at 1:22 am | Permalink

    This is a fantastic resource – great work from those who have made it available. I have only read short bits of Wallace – this should be a spur to many people to read him.

  3. Posted October 2, 2012 at 1:36 am | Permalink

    Without a shadow of a doubt, no book about the natural world has touched me more than Wallace’s Man’s Place in the Universe. I’m talking, more than Cosmos, or any Dawkins. The best bits are the later editions, where there is a chapter where he talks about reconciling faith and science. This chapter is not in this gutenberg version http://www.gutenberg.org/files/39928/39928-h/39928-h.htm but he’s such an amazing writer.

    • Notagod
      Posted October 2, 2012 at 7:48 am | Permalink

      I am wondering about and suspect that the push to get Wallace more publicity is an attempt by christians to inject their faith into science, as Wallace was supportive of ghosts inhabiting the closet. However, I think even Wallace knew that christianity is built on a fraudulent foundation. Does the desperation of christians know no bounds?

      Do note the compassion from those not supportive of nonsense in the following entry. If you think christianity provides a positive direction for society, you are wrong.

      From wikipedia:

      Wallace’s very public advocacy of spiritualism and his repeated defence of spiritualist mediums against allegations of fraud in the 1870s damaged his scientific reputation. It strained his relationships with previously friendly scientists such as Henry Bates, Thomas Huxley, and even Darwin, who felt he was overly credulous. Others, such as the physiologist William Benjamin Carpenter and zoologist E. Ray Lankester became openly and publicly hostile to Wallace over the issue. Wallace and other scientists who defended spiritualism, notably William Crookes, were subject to much criticism from the press, with The Lancet as the leading English medical journal of the time being particularly harsh. The controversy affected the public perception of Wallace’s work for the rest of his career.[114] When, in 1879, Darwin first tried to rally support among naturalists to get a civil pension awarded to Wallace, Joseph Hooker responded:

      Wallace has lost caste considerably, not only by his adhesion to Spiritualism, but by the fact of his having deliberately and against the whole voice of the committee of his section of the British Association, brought about a discussion of on Spiritualism at one of its sectional meetings. That he is said to have done so in an underhanded manner, and I well remember the indignation it gave rise to in the B.A. Council.[115]

      Hooker eventually relented and agreed to support the pension request.

  4. Posted October 2, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Great…as if I wasn’t already hopelessly behind in my reading….

    b&

    • Dominic
      Posted October 3, 2012 at 1:28 am | Permalink

      Ah! That is life Ben! ;)

      • Posted October 3, 2012 at 7:55 am | Permalink

        Ain’t that the truth!

        What’s worse, every hour we add years worth of knowledge to our libraries…there’s no hope of even treading water, let alone ever getting caught up….

        b&


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