Project Overview

Scope of the Project

The WCP aims to catalogue all known manuscript letters (including fragments) sent to or written by Wallace - including the original envelopes and any enclosures, plus selected letters between others which pertain to Wallace (e.g. a letter from Charles Darwin to Thomas Huxley which discusses Wallace) and all other letters written by Wallace's immediate relatives (parents and children). We will also catalogue information about letters whose text is currently unknown which are referred to in other letters or the literature, where we believe that the details given about them are accurate.

In addition to the above the project aims to catalogue the following items even though they were never part of 'posted' letters:

1) Handwritten or typed transcripts of letters to or from Wallace, especially where the original version is not known.

2) Drafts of letters to or from Wallace, even when the text of the final ‘posted’ version of the letter is known.

3) Published letters to or from Wallace, largely excluding letters which were specifically written by Wallace for publication (e.g. ‘letters to the editor’ (LTTE)). Note that all known examples of these plus transcripts, are available on the Wallace Page website and Wallace Online. Only the earliest published version of a letter will usually be catalogued, unless later versions are significantly different, in which case they too will be included. Published excerpts of letters will only be catalogued in instances where a more complete version of the letter is not known. Transcripts of published images of manuscript letters will usually only be included if the database does not already contain images or transcripts of the originals.

4) All other manuscript documents and other items which are not letters e.g. Wallace's notebooks, but not marginalia in printed works.

Project Phases

The white-rumped kingfisher (Caridonax fulgidus) was collected by Wallace on Lombok Island, Indonesia and named by Gould in 1857.The Wallace Correspondence Project will take place in two phases, largely due to funding considerations.

Phase 1, which will run from October 2010 to May 2015, aims to achieve the following:

1) Locate as many of Wallace's surviving manuscripts as possible in repositories around the world and obtain digital scans of them

2) Catalogue the documents using the project's bespoke MS Access database

3) Attempt to trace copyright holders and obtain permission to publish their ancestor's letters

4) Enlist volunteers to transcribe as many of the manuscripts as possible (these uncorrected 'first level' transcripts will be carefully checked, corrected and annotated during Phase 2 of the project)

5) Research biographical information of Wallace's c. 1,500 correspondents and write mini biographies of them

6) Make the metadata, images and transcripts of all catalogued manuscripts available to users free of charge via the project's online archive, Wallace Letters Online (WLO)

Phase 1 will take 4.5 years, and it is hoped that Phase 2 will begin in May 2015. However, this will depend on whether we are successful in securing funding for it.

Wallace's Cyriopalus beetle (Cyriopalus wallacei). Collected by Wallace in Sarawak, Borneo and named after him by Pascoe in 1866.

Phase 2

This phase of the project, which will run from 2015 until ?2023, has the following aims:

1) Produce authoritative annotated transcripts of Wallace's manuscripts

2) Produce scholarly summaries of the letters

3) Check and correct the metadata for the manuscripts in the database

4) Attempt to discover more letters by using more time-intensive research methods than in Phase 1 (including visiting repositories in person to search for manuscripts in their archives). If more are found they will be scanned, catalogued and transcribed.

5) Continue to attempt to identify copyright owners of the literary content of the letters and ask their permission to publish images of their ancestor’s letters in WLO.

6) Produce a number of 'popular' and scholarly publications, in particular a Calendar of Correspondence.