Interactive Timeline

You can now see all of Darwin’s correspondence on a timeline and use this to jump straight to the letters you are interested in; you can also select sets of letters by correspondent or by key word search.


Click here to begin
Warning: Scrolling the timeline is not currently supported on the i-Pad. On slower computers you may have to wait a few seconds for the timeline to load. Use of this tool is impractical on very small monitors or older computers.

The timeline is still being developed; please email us any feedback or see our contact page.

How to use the timeline

The timeline is shown on three bands at different scales, and each letter appears in just one of those bands.

Along the top are letters whose date is known reasonably precisely, shown by day. Along the middle are those letters whose date is known at least to the nearest year. And along the bottom are those letters whose dates are known only very imprecisely.

You can move the timeline by dragging the mouse. The three bands will remain synchronized as you do this. Because it has a larger scale, dragging the lower band will move the timeline more quickly than the upper bands and is useful for quickly rushing through years. Dragging the upper band will give you more precise control.

You can see where the main concentrations of letters are as a pattern of small vertical bars (a bit like bar codes or DNA!) at the top of each of the lower bands.

Clicking on a letter will give a brief summary and a link to the full letter, where available.

Red dots represent letters Darwin received, Blue those he wrote. (mnemonic: red = read).

Use the “Filter” and the “From/to” button to see only letters exchanged with a particular correspondent.

Use the “Filter” and the “Full Text” button to display only letters containing individual words or phrases [NB full texts are not available for all letters].

Use the “Filter” and the “Summary” button to see all letters whose descriptions contain individual words or phrases.

Use the “Highlights” to highlight the letters exchanged with up to three separate correspondents.

Use “All Letters” to remove the filter and return to displaying all the letters.

Use “Clear Highlights” to remove highlights.