History of the project

The project's roots go back to 1998 when Dr George Beccaloni, the project's Director, visited Alfred Russel Wallace’s grave in Broadstone, Dorset. Finding it in a poor state of repair he established the Wallace Memorial Fund which raised money to restore the unusual monument on the grave, install a new plaque and extend the lease of the grave plot by 100 years.

In the course of doing this George got to know Wallace’s two grandsons, Richard and John, and found that they had a huge archive of their grandfather's manuscripts, books and a small collection of his insect specimens. Although Richard and John had always been very accommodating in allowing Wallace scholars to study the manuscripts, they thought it was time for the collection to be housed in a public institution, especially after a recent attempted burglary... With this in mind, George and Wallace biographer Peter Raby, arranged a meeting with Chris Mills, then Head of the London Natural History Museum's library, and suggested that the library purchase the collection from the family.  Chris thought it was a wonderful idea and a successful bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund saw the collection of over 5,000 items come to the museum in 2002. The collection (known as the Wallace Family Archive) has since been conserved and catalogued and is available for public consultation in the Library’s reading room.

Six years later in 2008, George suggested to Judith Magee, the now retired curator of the Wallace Family Archive, that it might be a nice idea to make all the letters freely available on the Internet. Judith was enthusiastic and the Wallace Correspondence Project was conceived. Funding was awarded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a three year project to locate, digitise, catalogue and make available online information and images of all known surviving letters to and from Wallace. Since then grants have been received from the Alfred Russel Wallace Centenary Celebration and the John Templeton Foundation.

For a nice overview of the project see the following article (in pdf format): CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith