Among Darwin’s many papers, one thing the digitizers have found, curiously enough, is artwork drawn by his children, often on pages of Darwin’s manuscripts.
Darwin had no real use for the original manuscript once galley proofs came back from the publisher. So one can imagine father Charles giving his kids the only worthwhile paper in the house to draw on. It seems flippant now, but at the time, it was perfectly normal.
According to the New Yorker, they’ve found 57 drawings in total, nine of them on the back of pages from Origin of Species. Only 45 manuscript pages out of 600 from that book survive, and those nine are because of his kids. You can find a whole section at the Darwin Manuscripts project website dedicated to the drawings of the Darwin kids.
Researchers surmise that the majority of the art comes from three of the 10 children, Francis, George, and Horace, all of whom went into the sciences as adults. The illustrations are colorful and witty, drawn in pencil and sometimes colored in watercolor. Read the rest of this entry »
A proposed renovation threatens one of the world’s great research institutions
Stephen Eide writes: No place does more for more New Yorkers”—so claims the New York Public Library. Unlike most institutional boasts, this one has merit, because the library has long balanced unparalleled excellence with remarkably open access. Serving Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island—Brooklyn and Queens have their own separate library systems—the New York Public Library operates one of the world’s premier research institutions and a circulating system of 87 branches. The library’s research holdings far surpass those of any other public library in the nation and of most universities; access to the collection has been as deep a source of pride for the library as the breadth and depth of the collection itself. But now the library is on the cusp of enacting the most radical change in its 120-year history: under the Central Library Plan, as it’s been called, the library will sell two major facilities in midtown Manhattan and use the proceeds, plus city funds—$350 million in all—to renovate the iconic Main Building on 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue, which would retain its research function while also becoming the system’s central circulating branch.
Critics have attacked the plan’s design and scope and the lack of public input in formulating it. The library insists, though, that the renovation is necessary. “This is about improving services for our users—the public,” says David Offensend, the library’s chief operating officer. That claim seems dubious, at least for researchers. Even under the brightest scenario, the likely result would be an institution marginally more cost-effective but significantly downgraded from the research standard it has set during its illustrious history. Read the rest of this entry »