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Darwin’s Family Tree Rediscovered

August 24, 2010

The Galton-Darwin-Wedgwood pedigree, first exhibited in 1932, has been found in the archives of Truman State University

A poster of the Galton-Darwin-Wedgwood pedigree was prepared by Harry Hamilton Laughlin, Director of the Eugenics Record Office of the Carnegie Institute, and exhibited at the Third International Congress of Eugenics in 1932 at the American Museum of Natural History.

A photograph of this poster has been discovered in the archives of Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri alongside a photograph of a poster of a collection of rare Darwin family photographs, assembled by Leonard Darwin. The original posters have not been located.

Professor Tim Berra FLS, The Ohio State University, has made this information and associated images available to Darwin scholars world-wide in a paper in volume 101, Issue 1, September 2010 of The Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. Professor Berra said “The newly available pedigree and photographs open a window into the family life of Charles Darwin, the man. He was a husband, brother, father and grandfather, and, along the way, he also had the greatest idea ever had by the human mind.”

The Galton-Darwin-Wedgwood family is descended from the prominent 18th century doctor Erasmus Darwin; Josiah Wedgwood, founder of the pottery firm Josiah Wedgwood and Sons and Samuel John Galton, an arms manufacturer. The family contains at least ten Fellows of the Royal Society, several artists and poets and of course Charles Darwin who laid the foundations of the theory of evolution and transformed the way we think about the natural world and our place in it.

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