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4 Posts tagged with the alfred_russel_wallace tag

Dr Jim Costa

Executive Director, Highlands Biological Station,  Highlands, NC, USA and

Professor of Biology, Western Carolina  University, Cullowhee, NC, USA


Wednesday 30th July 2014 16.30–17.30


Flett Events Theatre - Exhibition Road Entrance


All welcome!


Alfred Russel Wallace was the last of the great Victorian naturalists, and by the end of his long life in 1913 he was also one of the most famous scientists in the world, lauded by leading learned societies, British royalty and US Presidents alike. Against all odds—lacking wealth, formal education, social standing or connections—Wallace became the pre-eminent tropical naturalist of his day. He founded one entirely new discipline—evolutionary biogeography—and, with Darwin, co-founded another: evolutionary biology. Yet today Darwin's name is universally recognised, while Wallace is all but unknown.



In this lecture, Jim traces the independent development of Wallace's and Darwin's evolutionary insights, exploring the fascinating parallels, intersections and departures in their thinking. Drawing on Wallace's 'Species Notebook'  (the most important of Wallace's field notebooks kept during his southeast Asian explorations of the 1850s) he puts Wallace's thinking into a new light in relation to that of his more illustrious colleague. He also examines the ups and downs of Wallace's relationship with Darwin, and critically evaluates the misleading conspiracy theories that Wallace was wronged by Darwin and his circle over credit for the discovery of natural selection. Tracing the arc of Wallace's reputation from meteoric rise in the 19th century to virtual eclipse in the 20th, Costa restores Wallace to his proper place in the limelight with Darwin.


About Jim Costa

Jim’s research ranges from insect social behaviour to the history of evolutionary thinking. As a recent fellow-in-residence at the Berlin Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin, Germany, Jim completed two books about  Wallace. On the Organic Law of Change (Harvard, 2013) is an annotated transcription of the most important field notebook kept by Wallace during his explorations in southeast Asia, providing new insights into the development of Wallace's evolutionary thinking in the 1850s. In the companion volume Wallace, Darwin, and the Origin of Species (Harvard, 2014) Jim analyses Wallace's ideas and arguments about evolution in the notebook period in comparison with those of Darwin, and examines the relationship between these two giants of evolutionary biology.


The annual Wallace Lecture is organised by the NHM’s Wallace Correspondence Project -


‘Wallace’s eureka moment: The discovery of natural selection’


Dr John van Wyhe, The Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum 4 July 16:30 – 17:30, Flett Theatre


As part of the Wallace100 celebrations taking part in 2013, the Natural History Museum will be hosting a monthly lecture series. These lectures are part of the Museum’s participation in Wallace100, an international programme of projects and events celebrating the centenary of Wallace’s death on 7 November 2013. At these monthly events, leading biologists and historians will discuss different aspects of Wallace’s life and work. The series also highlights the significance of the Museum as a focal point for Wallace collections and studies.


The story of Alfred Russel Wallace getting the idea of natural selection in a fit of tropical fever is rightly a famous account of scientific discovery. But what prompted his eureka moment? There have been many theories about Wallace's eureka moment. During his talk, Dr van Wyhe will shed light on these, dispelling many, as he examines the facts and surviving evidence from the time. The truth turns out to be rather different from what we have long believed...


Find out the facts at our revealing talk, presented by renowned Wallace expert and historian of science, Dr John van Wyhe. This is the 6th in our series of Wallace100 lectures.


John van Wyhe is a historian of science who specialises on Darwin and Wallace. He is the director of Darwin Online and Wallace Online. His latest book is Dispelling the Darkness: Voyage in the Malay Archipelago and the discovery of evolution by Wallace and Darwin (2013).


Free tickets need to be booked in advance
Book tickets online
Doors open 16.00


Details of the event can also be found here:


Details of the Wallace100 celebrations can be found here:


Details of Wallace100 events taking place at the NHM can be found here:


Entomology Seminar


Alfred Russel Wallace in the New World: Wallace's US-Canada Lecture Tour of 1886-87


Charles H. Smith

Western Kentucky   University, USA


Wednesday September 14th

Neil Chalmers Science Seminar Room (DC.LG16)


2 pm - 3 pm


Alfred Russel Wallace is best known for events that took place relatively early in his life, in connection with his natural history collecting expeditions to South America and Indonesia in 1848-52 and 1854-62, respectively. But after returning the second time to England he lived another fifty-one yearsto the age of ninety in 1913. This later portion of his life was also filled with activity, and even included another lengthy period of time spent out of the country. Over a ten month period in 1886-87 he toured some ten thousand miles across Canada and the United States, along the way observing, lecturing, botanizing, attending séances, and meeting and befriending a couple of hundred leading figures from American science, politics, and academia, right up to President Grover Cleveland. He left a journal of his tour which is most enlightening, and currently under transcription for publication. In this presentation, focussing on the journal, we attempt a return to this late-Nineteenth Century world.


Contact: Dr Vladimir Blagoderov, Entomology (


Alfred Russel Wallace stands with Charles Darwin as an influential and innovative thinker on evolution.  Before the publication of Darwin's great work The Origin of Species in 1859, Wallace and Darwin were jointly credited with developing the key idea of natural selection, presented in a paper from them both to the Linnean Society in 1858.

Wallace's ideas had their foundations in his collecting experience in natural history: first in South America; and second in what is now Malaysia and Indonesia.  In particular, he was interested in the geographical distribution of species and how this related to evolution: what is now thought of as biogeography.



The Museum has just purchased an album of sketches, watercolours and photographs belonging to Wallace from his family.  This is being added to a large collection in the NHM of Alfred Russel Wallace material: letters, notes, drawings and other papers. The collection is the second largest single depository of letter to and from Wallace, the British Library having the largest. The majority of the collection held in the NHM Library was purchased in 2002 from the Wallace family. Since then the family has presented to the Museum additional material, including more letters, papers and a few legal documents.


A project is now being led by George Beccaloni and Judith Magee to digitise all letters - not just the NHM collection - and make them available on-line with funding from the Mellon Foundation. The project employs one full time archivist and started in October 2010 to run for three years, culminating in 2013, the centenary of Wallace's death, and will be an important resource for historians of science.