CAMBRIDGE, England – Charles Darwin's work has evolved into cyberspace with the launch of an online archive on Thursday.
The creators of http://www.darwin-online.org.uk say that the archive is not yet complete, and manuscripts and other material will be added over the next two years. Much of the material comes from the Darwin Archive housed at Cambridge University.
"The idea is to make these important works as accessible as possible; some people can only get at Darwin that way," said project director John van Wyhe, a researcher at Christ's College, Cambridge. "Most of the materials provided are appearing online for the first time," he added.
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These include the first edition of the "Journal of Researches" (1839) (or "Voyage of the Beagle"), "The Descent of Man" (1871), "The Zoology of the Voyage of HMS Beagle" (1838-43) and the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th editions of the "On the Origin of Species."
The site also includes manuscripts and notebooks.
"One of these, the notebook in which Darwin recorded his immediate thoughts on the Galapagos, was stolen in the early 1980s and is still missing, but the text has been transcribed from microfilm," van Wyhe said.
The Web site also includes the largest Darwin bibliography yet produced, and the largest catalogue of manuscripts with over 30,000 entries, van Wyhe said.
"As vast as the collection now is, there is much still to come," he added.
"The site currently contains about 50 percent of the materials that will be provided by 2009, the bicentenary of Darwin's birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of 'The Origin of Species.'"