Special Collections: Charles Darwin

Display Dates: April - May 2009

The Darwin @ Union exhibit in 2009 celebrated the conjunction of three events: the bicentennial of Charles Darwin’s birth in 1809, the 150th anniversary of the first publication of his On the Origin of Species in 1859, and the gift to Union College of a first and sixth edition of On the Origin of Species as well as the first volume of Darwin’s The Descent of Man (1871), all donated to the College by Aaron J. Feingold, Union College Class of 1972.  Dr. Feingold’s gifts joined his earlier presentation to the College of the first edition of Darwin’s The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872).  The exhibit examined the development of ideas about evolution since the 18th century, Darwin’s own theories, his relationship to his mentors, to Alfred Russel Wallace, and to the work of John James Audubon (whose elephant folio edition of The Birds of America is also held at Union), and Darwin’s reception in both scientific works and in the popular imagination.  On opening day, foods from the Darwin family cookbook were served at campus dining halls as well as at an invitation-only dinner for distinguished guests, students, and faculty.  The evening closed with a lecture on “Charles Darwin and Human Evolution” given by Mark Walker, John Bigelow Professor of History at Union College.