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Record number: WCP1717

Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
Secretary of the Zoological Society of London
[not recorded]

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, [none given] to Secretary of the Zoological Society of London Zoological Society of London on  .

Record created:
27 October 2011 by Catchpole, Caroline


No summary available at this time.

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Record contains:

  • letter (1)

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LETTER (WCP1717.1600)

A typical letter handwritten by author in English and signed by author.

Held by:
Zoological Society of London
Finding number:
GB 0814 BADW
Copyright owner:
ŠA. R. Wallace Literary Estate

Physical description

Transcription information




To the Secretary of the Zoological Society

Having had occasion to use a "List of the Butterflies of Costa Rica" by Messrs Butler1 and Druce2, in Part III of the "Proceedings" for 18743, I was much annoyed at finding that the arrangement of the Families and genera did not at all correspondent [sic] with that of the laborious and recent general Catalogue of Butterflies by Mr Kirby4. Having to compare the two, I was obliged to consult Kirbys Index for every genus in the "List", as they skipped backwards and forwards 50 and 100 pages at a time. Now, as the authors of the paper referred to have given us a bare list and nothing else, but have left us to get what information we require by a comparison, genus by genus with other lists; and, as the only general work available for the purpose is Kirbys Catalogue, it seems to me wholly unjustifiable for the issues of a mere list to render it as inconvenient as possible by adopting to adopt a totally new arrangement of the genera is most inconvenient and unnecessary.

I would further therefore suggest, that, as [[2]] the Zoological Society only gives its valuable space to such lists on account of their utility to working Zoologists, it should be made a rule that the authors must in all cases follow the arrangement of such some good general work, (monograph or catalogue of the entire group treated of) and that the name of such work should be given at the head of the list.

It is not, I apprehend, a question as to which of the two arrangements is scientifically the most correct, but a matter of pure convenience; and I think so glaring a case of inconvenient innovation should not be passed over without bringing it to the notice of the Society and of zoologists in general.

Alfred R. Wallace [signature]


1. Butler, Arthur G., 1844-1925, naturalist

2. Druce, Herbert, 1846-1913, entomologist

3. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, Volume 42, Issue 1, pp.330-370, January 1874

4. Kirby, William F., 1844-1912, entomologist

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