Cambridge University Finally Has Its Darwin Notebooks Back 20 Years After They Were Stolen

The notebooks were anonymously left on the library floor in excellent condition.

You don’t have to be a scientist to know who Charles Darwin is. His work on evolution is well known and regardless of whether you agree with it or not, the name is synonymous with it.

Perhaps that is why it was so disappointing when two notebooks that were owned by Charles Darwin disappeared from the Cambridge University Library. That was 20 years ago, but now they have been returned again.

Photo: YouTube/Cambridge University

According to a press release, a gift bag placed on the floor of the library on March 9 contained the notebooks. They are reported to be in good condition and there was even a note included: “Librarian Happy Easter X.”

The Cambridge University libraries librarian, Jessica Gardner, described them in this way, according to Reuters: “They may be tiny, just the size of postcards, but the notebooks’ impact on the history of science, and their importance to our world-class collections here, cannot be overstated.”

Photo: YouTube/Cambridge University

Darwin had finished a trip around the world in 1837 to begin sketching his ideas about an evolutionary tree. This was about 20 years prior to the time that he had written the famous book, “On the Origin of Species.”

Inside the notebooks, Darwin had sketched out theories about how species may transmute into their current forms from where they were in the past. That is why they refer to the notebooks as the Transmutation Notebooks.

Photo: YouTube/Cambridge University

Late in 2000, the books were removed from their location to be photographed. In January 2001, they were reported missing but had always been assumed to have been misplaced until 2020, with the library concluding that they had been stolen.

The police are still looking into the situation.