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University Libraries - News, Events & Exhibits

Charles Darwin an exhibition chiefly from the C. Warren Irvin Collection of Darwin and Darwiniana

Thomas Cooper Library (Mezzanine Gallery)
Apr 10, 2007 - Jun 30, 2007
The exhibit sets out both to chart Darwin’s career and to illustrate his achievements and influence. The display is particularly strong in documenting Darwin’s epoch-making voyage as a naturalist with the naval ship H.M.S. Beagle and the many new species that he brought back for scientific study. The books on display, which include all the major Darwin first editions, including the Origin of Species, are chiefly drawn from the Irvin Collection, which was donated to the University by Dr. and Mrs. Irvin in 1995. The Irvin Collection includes both Darwin’s own publications and books that influenced or were influenced by him, as well as modern books about his work. The exhibit also draws extensively on the South Carolina College library, especially its journal-runs, to show Darwin’s earlier scientific contributions and to set a context for Darwin’s own work. Since the original donation, a significant number of items have been added to the collection, through the endowment that Dr. and Mrs. Irvin established, and such items are identified in the exhibit labels. Among notable additions on display are: * copies of important books that Darwin read as a student in Edinburgh and Cambridge * Darwin’s very first appearance in print as a scientist, on entomology * Darwin’s three books on geological topics, acquired in 2002 shortly before Dr. Irvin died; * an 1860 autograph letter from Darwin about the reaction to his Origin of Species, purchased with a donation from James P. Barrow, ’62, through the Treasures Acquisition Program; and * original Vanity Fair cartoons of Darwin and Huxley. Also included in the display is an engraved portrait of Darwin that previously belong ed to A. C. Moore, who had purchased it in Paris in 1910. Though there have been several smaller Darwin-related exhibits in recent years, and a Darwin web-exhibit continues to draw students and researchers, this is the first major exhibition from the Irvin Collection since the spring of 1999, and the first to showcase many recent additions.