Valentine Darwin Collection Introduction

The American Philosophical Society long has been recognized as a center for research on Charles Darwin, who was a member of the Society for 13 years, until his death in 1882. The APS Library holds the largest collection of Darwin manuscripts in North America, numerous early published editions of Darwin’s works, and thousands of volumes about Darwin and Darwinism.


Valentine Darwin Bookplate

In 2007, the Library of the American Philosophical Society received a gift which transformed this Darwin collection from impressive to amazing. Paleobiologist James W. Valentine donated 4800 volumes of the printed works of Charles Darwin, which he gathered over a period of more than 50 years. This comprehensive collection of multiple editions of Darwin’s works includes titles translated into at least 23 languages, and is a compelling resource for the study of the transfer of Darwin’s ideas on evolution and natural selection across cultures.

With the generous support of the NEH and the Richard Lounsbery Foundation, the Cataloguing and Conservation Departments planned and executed a project to add the Valentine/Darwin Collection to our holdings. Our goals for this project were threefold: to produce a catalogue of the collection accessible worldwide through the APS Library OPAC; to conserve and preserve the collection; and to publish to the APS Library’s website a cluster of essays by leading Darwin scholars contextualizing the Valentine/Darwin Collection as a resource within the framework of intellectual and cultural history. The Darwin essayists are:

Dr. James Valentine, Faculty Curator Emeritus at the University of California’s Museum of Paleontology and Professor Emeritus of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley
Dr. Janet Browne, Aramont Professor of the History of Science, Harvard University
Dr. Michael Ruse, Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy and Director of the History and Philosophy of Science Program, Florida State University
Dr. Keith Thomson, Emeritus professor of History, Oxford University, and Dean Emeritus of the Graduate School, Yale University
Dr. John van Wyhe, Founder and Director of The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Onlin, and a Bye-Fellow of Christ’s College, University of Cambridge

The Valentine/Darwin Collection, now catalogued, conserved, and accessible to researchers, provides a wealth of material on Darwin’s influence throughout the world, and the potential for many scholarly studies in the history of Darwin’s transformative ideas.

Click here to browse the full Valentine/Darwin Collection in the APS catalogue.


Cover Page. On the origin of species (Norwalk, Conn., 1976)
On the origin of species (Norwalk, Conn., 1976)
El origen de las especies (Mexico City, 1994)
El origen de las especies (Mexico City, 1994)
El origen de las especies (Buenos Aires, 1945)
El origen de las especies (Buenos Aires, 1945)
On the origin of species (St. Petersburg, 1910)
On the origin of species (St. Petersburg, 1910)