There’s a new online archive available for the work of Charles Darwin. A combined effort of the University of Cambridge, the Charles Darwin Trust, and other groups, the new site is available at http://www.darwin-online.org.uk. Though the name of the site is The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online, it isn’t yet complete. That’ll take a few more years.
The site currently contains over 50,000 searchable text pages and 40,000 images, which is about half of the material expected to be made available by 2009. (Materials currently available include the first edition of Journal of Researches as well as his Beagle field notebooks.) New material will be added “almost daily,” according to the site, and anyone who wants to help with proofing, scanning, or transcribing is welcome.
Searching is by simple keyword, though you can also browse lists of available publications and manuscripts. (An advanced search allows for some field and date searching as well as searching by language and item type.) I did a simple keyword search for brother and got almost 400 results. Results showed the source, plenty of context for the keyword, and included the options to list by date as well as by title or relevance.
Click on the page number of a manuscript to the get the full page with your search term highlighted. You’ll also get notes about the original manuscript and transcriptions, as well as footnotes about the text. In addition to the manuscript and publication material, the site also has a biography with pictures, obituaries, and remembrances. A timeline is forthcoming.