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Exchanging insect lists with Bates and keeping a journal

Exchanging insect lists with Bates and keeping a journal (page 1)

Catalogue number: WP1/3/11

Letter from Wallace to fellow entomologist Henry Walter Bates about exchanging insect lists, plans for keeping a journal, and natural history books, dated April 1846.

Wallace and Bates first met in 1844, at a Leicester library, while Wallace was a teacher at the Collegiate School. Bates introduced Wallace to the world of entomology (studying insects). Here Wallace confirms that he 'would be most happy to exchange lists' with Bates, who lived in Leicester, each month. He describes his own collection of insects in Neath, Wales. Wallace noticed that the common species in Neath are 'different in many respects from those in Leicester'.

Wallace also tells Bates of his plan to start a journal of insects collected, '...a Natural History Journal. A sort of day book in which I insert all my captures...with the day of the month, locality etc and any remarks on specific characteristics, habits etc.' This is a wonderful insight into the beginning of Wallace's career as a naturalist. Many of the scientists at the Natural History Museum today keep journals to help them remember all the details about their collections.

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Letter to Alfred Russel Wallace from the Royal Society, about his Darwin Medal award

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