Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)
Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: The following 'Bibliography of Wallace Archival Sources' was provided by Michael Shermer (firstname.lastname@example.org), Editor-in-Chief of Skeptic Magazine (http://www.skeptic.com/), and was compiled during his research for his doctoral dissertation on Wallace (Shermer 1991). The bibliography is published as an appendix in his biography entitled: In Darwin's Shadow: The Life and Science of Alfred Russel Wallace (Oxford University Press, 2002). There is currently a Wallace correspondence project under way, so if anyone knows of materials beyond those listed below, please contact me so I can pass this information along.
[Note from Michael Shermer: I am pleased to provide this bibliography to Charles Smith's web page on Alfred Russel Wallace because he has provided an invaluable service to Wallace and Darwin scholars as well as historians of science in general with this remarkable archival achievement. My biography of this most fascinating scientist and scholar benefited greatly from Smith's important work, for which I am grateful.]
There are, briefly, fifteen primary-source archives in England that contain varying amounts of Wallace material, ranging from a couple, to a couple of thousand letters. A few comments here may help the reader understand the general historiography of this book, and direct future historians of Wallace to the specific source they may need. First of all it should be noted that there is, as yet, no central clearing house for Wallace archival materials. Unlike the Darwin industry where virtually all the correspondence (or copies thereof) are at the Cambridge University Library (and most of his personal artifacts and library are at his home in Down), Wallace's correspondences are scattered hither and yon. The British Library contains the most at approximately 1,400 letters, seven book manuscripts, and thirteen journal article manuscripts, while the Wellcome Institute, the Imperial College of Science and Technology, and University College, London house the least, with just a handful of letters each.
Working approximately eight to ten hours a day, six days a week, it took my wife and I five and a half weeks to read thoroughly through all the primary source materials. It was a surprisingly easy task, enhanced by Wallace's legible handwriting, along with the majority of those who wrote to Wallace, with the exception of Darwin, Huxley, Spencer, and Lyell. All of the archivists were quite helpful, and some of them very knowledgeable on both Wallace and nineteenth-century evolutionary thought, particularly Gina Douglas at the Linnean Society, an excellent research facility and a warm introduction to the Wallace archives.
The Linnean Society is one of the gold mines of archival materials, housing Wallace's letters, superb nature sketches, and annotated books from his personal library (including a copy of Darwin's Descent of Man). More significantly, the original notebooks in Wallace's hand from the Malay Archipelago are available, as well as his never-before-published American journal, containing fascinating descriptions of the American landscape, cityscape, universities, and his spiritualism experiences abroad. A small museum contains the skin of a giant python Wallace killed in the jungles of the Malay Archipelago (described in his book of the same name), as well as Darwin's satchel in which he kept his scientific instruments on the Beagle voyage. While the room in which the Darwin-Wallace papers were read into the record on July 1, 1858 is now gone, another room is set up with most of the original furniture, such that one can touch history by sitting in the Linnean Society President's chair and, with imagination, hear the ground-breaking ideas presented publicly (and generally ignored) for the first time. Likewise, the Museum of Mankind contains artifacts Wallace brought back from Malaya, and the British Museum of Natural History has many of Wallace's butterfly and other entomological collections, as well as the magnificent color portrait painted in 1923 by J. W. Beaufort that adorns the cover of this book. The British Library contains a fascinating article written by Wallace in 1900, simply entitled 'Evolution' [[Editor's note: S589]]. Although it is reported by the archives catalogue as never published, it first appeared in the New York based The Sun under the title 'The Passing Century' on December 23, 1900, and was reprinted in The Progress of the Century in 1901. It is a splendid summary of the state of the science at the fin de siècle, by one of its major scientific players.
One of the most valuable sources of Wallace letters, books, and general memorabilia is his descendants. While there is no extant Wallace home, his grandsons Alfred John Russel Wallace and Richard Russel Wallace, from Bournemouth and Lymington respectively, have carefully saved a number of important items of their grandfather. Among these is included a binder of early correspondence that contains the famed letter to Bates, apparently sent the same time as the 1858 letter to Darwin with the paper on natural selection, that Darwin claims arrived on June 18. One can clearly see on the Wallace-Bates letter the postmark of London, June 3. The grandsons also have Wallace's sextant he used on the Amazon excursion, as well as numerous family photographs, portraits, and even their grandfather's grandfather clock. Both grandsons were extremely helpful and cordial, and John's hospitality in extending a luncheon for us was above and beyond the call of historical duty. John, now retired, was a science teacher and fully understands the importance of his grandfather's work within the larger context of the history of science. He incurred a not-inconsiderable expense in photocopying a number of letters for this book, for which I am grateful. The warm reception dispelled a rumor that a prior Wallace biographer had apparently started about the unapproachability of the grandsons, done, it is speculated, to discourage future historians from getting to these archives. If so, the plan backfired, as John steered us to a set of letters henceforth lost to the historical community. As we were leaving his home I inquired whether there were any other archives that might contain Wallace documents that were not on my list. He replied that he thought he remembered his father, William, mentioning that he had turned over a couple of boxes of his father's letters to Oxford University.
A couple of phone calls and a train trip later my wife and I were at the Hope Entomological Collections in the University Museum at Oxford University. There were two boxes of letters, about 200 items in all, of exchanges between Wallace and primarily E. B. Poulton and Raphael Meldola (and a handful of others including a letter from Darwin about the feeding habits of caterpillars and the coloration of insects, not mentioned in any Darwin correspondence source). It was immediately obvious that no one had looked at these before, or at least for a very long time. (They are mentioned in no primary- or secondary-source bibliography.) William Wallace had joined each letter together with its envelope and a thin piece of tissue paper with a straight pin to protect the letter from others piled on top. This produced two holes in each letter and envelope. Not only were the pins rusty and a little difficult to pull out, but to put them back together in such a way that the holes were all aligned was very difficult. It was my impression that no one had done so before and there was no indication at the museum that anyone had ever requested or seen these letters. (The content of these letters, which is important, is discussed in Chapter 7.)
The following appendix is the most complete archival source bibliography to date on Wallace. It was compiled during the research for the book as the previously published sources of primary documents were incomplete and impractical for research purposes. As much information as possible was recorded at each location so that historians will have only to turn to a single sourcebook to begin archival research. Due to space limitations not every letter is listed (though they were all recorded at every archive except the British Library, whose over 2,400 letters made this task impossible). General summaries and categories of correspondence are provided, as well as details of particularly important or interesting archival material, and lists of letters and manuscripts where space or importance warrants.
Alfred John Russel Wallace/Richard Russel Wallace
Alfred Russel Wallace and his wife
Annie had three children: Herbert Spencer Wallace, William Randolf Wallace,
and Violet Wallace. Only William had children: Alfred John Russel Wallace
and Richard Russel Wallace. Richard has two children: Richard and William
Wallace. John has one daughter, Susan, whose daughter Rosamund is the
great, great, granddaughter of ARW. The grandsons live in Bournemouth
and Lymington respectively, and have carefully preserved much of their
grandfather's archival material, including a binder of fifty-eight letters,
dated July, 1835 - May, 1869. These include correspondences to and from
his father, mother, George Silk, his brothers John, H. E. and W. G. Wallace,
his sister Frances Sims, her husband and Wallace's friend, Thomas Sims,
R. Spruce, and Henry Walter and Frederick Bates, including the now famous
letter allegedly sent the same time as the letter and essay to Darwin,
and arriving in London on June 3. They also retained some of Wallace's
personal library (109 books), including foreign translations of The
World of Life (Spanish and Dutch), with some minor marginalia in mostly
the later editions. Many of Wallace's books were sold off after his death.
A hand catalogue of the library was produced by RRW. Also featured: a
pencil sketch of Wallace; a watercolor of Wallace's birthplace (the home
is still extant); a watercolor and painting of Wallace, his parents, and
some children (in one frame); a sextant used on the Amazon trip; a butterfly
collection; a grandfather clock; a three-dimensional likeness of the Westminister
Abbey monument; an article on the BBC docudrama on Wallace; original photographs,
many never before published. A handlist of the letters by AJRW, entitled
'Old letters to and from A. R. Wallace and other members of his family,'
reads as follows:
British Library, Department of Manuscripts:
1848-1878: 432 letters (including 21 from C. Lyell on biogeography and never published).
1879-1894: 348 letters.
1895-1908: 310 letters.
1909-1914: 305 letters.
There are also seven book manuscripts, including:
Bad Times (1886, autograph draft with corrections).
Darwinism (1889, autograph draft with corrections).
The Wonderful Century (1898, autograph draft with corrections).
Man's Place in the Universe (1903, extracts from revised edition).
My Life: A Record of Events and Opinions (1905, original text same as published).
Is Mars Habitable? (1907, autograph draft with revisions).
The World of Life (1910, autograph draft with revisions).
'Contributions to Periodicals 1890-1908' (some of which are republished in Studies Scientific and Social in 1900). These 'Contributions' include thirteen journal article manuscripts:
'Progress without Poverty' (Fortnightly Review [FR], 9/90).
'English and American Flowers' (FR, 10/91).
'Our Molten Globe' (FR, 11/92).
'Spiritualism' (Chambers's Encyclopaedia, 1892).
'The Ice-Age and its Work i; Erratic Blocks and Ice-Sheets' (FR, 11/93).
'The Ice-Age and its Work ii; Glacial Erosion of Lake Basins' (FR, 12/93).
'The Palaearctic and Nearctic Regions Compared as Regards the Families and Genera of their Mammalia and Birds' (Natural Science, 6/94).
'How to preserve the House of Lords' (Contemporary Review, 1/94).
'Revd. George Henslow on Natural Selection' (Natural Science, 9/94).
'The Method of Organic Evolution' (FR, 2/95).
'The Expressiveness of Speech, or Mouth-Gesture as a Factor in the Evolution of Language' (FR, 10/95).
'Evolution' (possibly published in The Sun, 1900, and reprinted in Progress of the Century, 1900).
'The Legend of the Birds of Paradise in the Arabian Nights' (Independent Review, 3/04).
'The Native Problem in South Africa and Elsewhere' (Independent Review, 11/06).
'The Remedy for Unemployment' (Socialist Review, 6/08).
'The Present Position of Darwinism' (Contemporary Review, 8/08).
Also stored in the archives is a picture postcard of Wallace, and an intriguing printed press release and proposal to raise funds to finance a utopian society in Africa, based on Dr. Theodor Hertzka's novel Freeland, for which Wallace founded the British Freeland Association, with an office address of London. Most of this material was donated by Wallace's son William George Wallace.
British Museum (Natural History):
Darwin Archive, Cambridge University Library:
Hope Entomological Collections of Oxford University
Imperial College of Science, Technology & Medicine, London:
Kew Royal Botanic Gardens:
Linnean Society of London:
Museum of Mankind:
Royal Entomological Society:
Royal Society of London:
University College London, Bloomsbury Science
University of London
Zoological Society of London
Editor's Note: In addition to the materials noted above by Dr. Shermer, McKinney (1972) lists the locations of other personal letters known to exist as of the date of that publication. More have surfaced since, and undoubtedly will continue to do so; I have recently come upon Wallace correspondence and other archival materials mentioned in the library catalogues and/or manuscript collections of the following institutions: Indiana University (Bloomington), New York Public Library Research Libraries, University of Liverpool, American Philosophical Society, Wagner College (New York), Strathclyde University (Great Britain), Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library (UCLA), John Innes Archives (Norwich, U.K.), Manchester Archives and Local Studies (Manchester, U.K.), University of Virginia, University of Texas (Austin), Princeton University, University of Chicago, University of Florida, Iowa State University, Gray Herbarium (Harvard University), Michigan State University, West Virginia State Archives Manuscript Collections, Edinburgh University, University of Wisconsin (Madison), Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, University of California (Berkeley & Los Angeles), Bodleian Library at Oxford University, Manuscripts Department at the Library of the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill), Cambridge University, Ernst Mayr Library (Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University), Dittrick Medical History Center (Case Western Reserve University), National Library of Australia, American Museum of Natural History, and Smithsonian Institution.