The trails of paper that history forgot
The life of Charles Darwin is one that is well documented through his use of letters. It is interesting to speculate on the lost art of writing. In all my times I have written a question down it seems that the answer came just in my act of putting it on paper. I wonder how many letters Darwin wrote that he never sent because in writing he found the answer. But Darwin did not write just to talk about science or questions, but he cared for people. The Darwin Correspondence Project is a project put in place to document all of Darwin’s interactions through paper. Letter 2932 between Darwin and Henslow shows Darwin’s heart for his fellow scientists and how much he valued them. In the letter he not only expresses his research and questions of the time, but he also discusses the affairs of the family and the current condition of his daughter. In Letter 4309 from JD Hooker to Charles, Hooker expresses his grief in the loss of his daughter and how Darwin was the first person he thought of. JD Hooker was one of the foremost botanists of his time, not just a best friend. I think this is representative of the scientific community of the time. Life was not about getting ahead or being the best, it was about a culture of community and joint learning. The thought and care of letters have so much more meaning than the instant email that we can send to a thousand of our contacts. Although email was not invented at the time, the special meaning that Darwin and his correspondence put into their letters made.