Darwin catalogued in 1884

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The 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin is February 12 and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his On the Origin of Species will be in November.

If you look up Darwin in the earliest printed catalogue of the Library to contain mention of his work, you are drawn to pages 220 and 221 of the Subject-catalogue of the Library of the College of New Jersey, at Princeton (New York, 1884), compiled by head Librarian Frederic Vinton.

The entry for Darwin is under the heading ‘Evolution of Species.’ Such is expected. But, library catalogues always provide surprising juxtapositions of headings, and this 1884 Subject-catalogue is no exception. The entry preceding ‘Evolution’ is ‘Evidences of revealed religion,’ subdivided into three sections, the last of which is ‘(Revelation denied).’
Immediately following ‘Evolution of species’ is the ‘Evolution of the universe… (See also Cosmology, Metaphysics)’, followed by ‘Examinations (academic)’

This sequence of entries has an unexpectedly modern tone — in public discourse, these categories are still in close proximity today. Clearly Librarian Vinton was not only an expert bibliographer and cataloguer. He was a cunning compiler who knew the power of lists to both reflect and anticipate debate.

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