One of the many things the Alfred Russel Wallace Correspondence Project (WCP) is trying to do is to 'electronically unite' all the items which make up what we call a "letter packet" i.e. a letter, its envelope, and any enclosures it may have contained (e.g. newspaper clippings, photographs etc). These have often become disassociated with one another over time, and may in fact have ended up in different archives/collections, sometimes on different continents. A case in point is an envelope of a letter sent by the great Scottish geologist James Croll to Wallace in 1870.
George Beccaloni's blog
By George Beccaloni (Director of the WCP), 27th July 2020
The Wallace Correspondence Project (WCP) has just catalogued its 6000th item - a letter written in 1863 by Alfred Russel Wallace to John Henry Gurney (1819-1890) - see image below. Gurney was a partner in Gurney's bank of Norwich for 30 years, a Liberal M.P. for King’s Lynn, and an amateur ornithologist.
Danniella (Danni) Sherwood joins the Wallace Correspondence Project as Project Coordinator, replacing Katrina van Grouw. Danni is an arachnologist with research interests focused primarily on the taxonomy and systematics of the spider family Theraphosidae (tarantulas).
"...the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.." Thomas Henry Huxley, 1870
"...[the] whole fabric totters & falls." Charles Darwin, 1838
Although the Wallace Correspondence Project (WCP) has been running for 6.5 years and we regularly search online catalogues of archives around the world (as well as auctions and private collections) for letters and other manuscripts new to us, we keep on finding new items all the time and I sometimes wonder whether we will ever discover all or even most of them! I guess the answer is provided by the Darwin Correspondence Project, which has been running for more than 40 years and has many more staff than we do.
For the last two months, myself (George, the project's Director) and Matt (the project's full-time Researcher) have been redesigning the project's workflow and computer systems so there is now no need for a project office and the team can work at separate locations anywhere in the world. Although our freelancers and volunteers have always done this, the project relied on a core team which had to be based in an office, which was networked using a NAS (Network-Attached Storage) i.e. a server computer which 'lived' in a cupboard under the office's stairs.
Text of an article recently published in the Newsletter of the Society for the History of Natural History:
Progress of the A. R. Wallace Correspondence Project (WCP)
Phase 2 of the WCP began in December 2017 and it has been running smoothly thanks to considerable help from The Charles Darwin Trust (http://www.charlesdarwintrust.org) who helped to set the project up and who are managing our grant from the John Templeton Foundation.