February 12th, 2009 marks the 200th birthday of Charles Robert Darwin, the humble naturalist famous for describing the theory of evolution by natural selection in meticulous detail in his groundbreaking book On the Origin of Species. Origin, as it is often referred to, celebrates its 150th publication anniversary this year on November 24th.
These two propitiously timed anniversaries have made 2009 the year for celebrating Darwin, and many of Pittsburgh’s esteemed educational institutions will be joining in the festivities. Duquesne University will be the host of Darwin 2009: A Pittsburgh Partnership, and they will offer an impressive array of Darwin-related lectures and more. Here at the library, we will be discussing Darwin and the implications of his theory during three meetings of the Black Holes, Beakers, and Books popular science book club, which I’ve mentioned here before. The first meeting of the book club will correspond with Janet Browne’s Charles Darwin 200th Birthday Lecture at the Drue Heinz Lecture series on February 9th. Finally, our friendly neighbors at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History will be celebrating Darwin with an excellent series of lectures from January till the end of April.
If you don’t live in Pittsburgh but you’d still like to be involved, check out the Darwin Days website. It lists numerous Darwin-related events happening internationally.
Finally, a few sources about Darwin to get you reading about a guy who truly changed the way we think about the world:
The Complete Works of Charles Darwin Online — A hugely impressive collection of Darwin’s published works available to be read online, including beautiful digital scans of original 1st editions of his most important books.
Darwin Correspondence Project — Another interesting online collection that gathers Darwin’s personal letters.
Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin’s Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives by David Sloan Wilson — An excellent overview of the importance of Darwin’s theory of evolution, written by one of today’s foremost evolutionists.