The Natural History Museum is well placed to provide a unique insight into who Alfred Russel Wallace was. In January 2002 the Museum purchased a personal collection of papers and the library of Wallace from the Wallace family. The collection of over 5,000 items includes ‘personal and related family papers, correspondence, accounts of expenditure, publishers’ proofs, reprints, photographs, certificates, pamphlets, press cuttings, lecture notes and obituaries’.
The Wallace Collection complements other collections at the Museum. These include field notebooks and thousands of Wallace’s specimens which are in the Museum’s research collections, as well as papers and the specimens of naturalists such as Charles Darwin and Henry Walter Bates.
The project to digitise part of the Wallace Collection was funded by the Mellon Foundation. Its objective was to provide an electronic resource indicative of the content found in the Wallace Collection. Approximately 150 items have been selected for imaging and are presented here. Each image has interpretative text and transcriptions where necessary. The items chosen offer views on Wallace as a naturalist, a collector, a lecturer, a family man, a spiritualist, an architect and a great thinker. The items also reveal Wallace’s role as the co-discoverer of the theory of evolution by natural selection.
Browse the online collection