About Wallace Online

Books by WallaceWallace Online is the first complete edition of the writings of the Victorian naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913).

Clicking the links at the top of the page shows the main content. Publications lists all of Wallace's books, book chapters and articles. Manuscripts are a selection of handwritten documents written by Wallace. According to a 2012 agreement, Wallace Online was to publish Wallace's publications and manuscripts and another project would published his unpublished correspondence. Specimens is a new and comprehensive collection of published descriptions of his collections. Supplementary are works by other authors that were important for Wallace or are relevant to the study of his life and work.

The project is based at the Department of Biological Sciences at the National University of Singapore. In addition to this website, the project has conducted groundbreaking new historical research on Wallace. See a selection of project press coverage here.

This website contains 32,000 pages of searchable historical documents and 25,940 images.
Wallace books: 13,678 pages
Shorter publications: 4,786 pages [982 items; 770 from Charles H. Smith's website]
Manuscripts: 28 pages
Supplementary works: 22,000 pages
PDFs: 930

The database

Wallace Online follows the example and uses the same software as Darwin Online. The website is organized around a database of records of publications and manuscripts. The database may be searched according to the following fields:

All Fields: searches all the textual (i.e. non tick box) fields in the database.
Identifier: e.g. S043, (see abbreviations below).
Name(s): e.g. Wallace Alfred Russel, or multiple names e.g. Darwin Wallace.
After date:
Before date:
Title: searches the title or attributed title fields, e.g. Malay archipelago.
Description: a limited number of entries have additional descriptions.
Document type: (clicking one of the links below displays all records of that type)
Publications: book, book contribution, periodical contribution
Manuscripts & papers: notebook, note, draft, figure, photo, printed, legal, correspondence, miscellaneous

Storage types: Ticking one or more of these limits a search to items of which text, image and/or PDF are available on Wallace Online.

Available full text

Available digital images

Available PDF

See advanced search help for more detail.


BL: The British Library, London.
BM: The British Museum, London.
CUL: Cambridge University Library, Cambridge.
LINSOC: Library of the Linnean Society of London.
MS: manuscript (handwritten document).
NHM: The Natural History Museum, London.
NatLibWales: The National Library of Wales, Cardiff.
RGS: Royal Geographical Society, London.
S: 'Smith numbers', from the bibliography of Charles H. Smith. We have added leading zeros to make the numbers sortable. Hence search for S020 rather than S20.
WS: Wallace Online supplementary publications.
WSPEC: Scientific descriptions of Wallace specimens.

Identifier numbers, because they are used as part of the permanent URL system (web address) of Wallace Online, cannot contain spaces, colons and some other characters. When these occurred in the original catalogues they have been truncated or replaced with an underscore or full stop (period). Most commonly this meant the alteration of the NHM system. The numbers are written in the NHM catalogue as: WP1, then WP1/1, then WP1/1/1 and so forth. For example, the NHM number WP1/1/18 becomes NHM-WP01.001.018. The zeros have been added here so that the electronic records will sort numerically. Therefore to request to see or order manuscripts from the NHM, the numbers need to be converted back into the original format. Some identifier numbers were repeated or duplicated in the original catalogues. As unique numbers for each entry are required by the Wallace Online software, bracketed decimal numbers have been added to make each number unique. These bracketed numbers do not appear on the original manuscripts.


The Bibliographical Database [Search or Browse]

The database contains records of the publications of Wallace from the bibliography by Charles H. Smith. The format of the references in the database and in the record at the top of each document have been modified to conform with the style used by the Wallace Online and Darwin Online projects. Smith's site is the definitive existing bibliography where all newly discovered Wallace publications should be sent.

The texts are mainly from two sources, those from Smith's Alfred Russel Wallace Page and those transcribed by Wallace Online. Some works that Wallace read, such as Vestiges or Malthus, are from the sister project Darwin Online and others have been digitized by Wallace Online such as the edition of Lyell's Principles of Geology that Wallace used in the Malay archipelago.

The Wallace Online project has identified and collected the largest list (c. 140 items) of scientific descriptions of Wallace's specimens published by other scientists. These form a searchable sub-set of the supplementary works. See the illustrations in these here.

A note on the texts

The texts helpfully provided by Smith have in many instances been modified here. We have added the titles as they were printed at the top of Wallace's articles, or his salutation, valediction and dates of letters when printed in the original. In other cases we have added sections of text not transcribed by Smith. Where Smith made original footnotes into endnotes, or in some cases in-text notes, we have returned them to the format of the original. We have not included Professor Smith's notes or other editorial information as this is already available on his site. We have provided digital images of almost all of Wallace's publications.


The Manuscript Database [Search or Browse]

This is the first union catalogue of Wallace's handwritten manuscripts and private papers ever published. The records have been helpfully provided from institutions which hold Wallace materials, in particular the Wallace Collection at the Natural History Museum (London) [NHM] through the kindness of librarian Judith Magee. The text in the NHM catalogue entries is copyright of the NHM and is reproduced with permission. Of course the NHM catalogue continues to be updated since it was copied for Wallace Online. Users should consult the original NHM catalogue for the latest data.

Other entries in the database were written or amended by the Wallace Online project editors. The database currently contains c. 1,700 records from seven institutions. It aims to record all Wallace manuscripts in the world. If your institution keeps Wallace manuscripts not included here, please contact us.

Requests to reproduce manuscripts must be sent to the owner of the manuscript, not to Wallace Online.

John van Wyhe

September 2012

John van Wyhe, ed. 2012-. Wallace Online (http://wallace-online.org/)