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Darwin's Theory of Evolution: Topics in Chronicling America

Darwin's evolutionary theory was often disputed in 1859. Though accepted now, it's still controversial. This guide provides access to materials related to "Darwin's Theory of Evolution” in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


"Charles Robert Darwin." February 16, 1909. Hopkinsville Kentuckian (Hopkinsville, KY), Image 6. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

Known as the “Martin Luther” of his time, Charles Darwin shocks the world in 1859 and declares that humans are descendants of apes, rather than god’s humble creation. The religious community spirals into outrage, doing everything possible to thwart this man’s “delusional theory.” Darwin dies in 1882, but his evolution theory lives on, still managing to stir up controversy amongst preachers and scientists today. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.


1863 - 1898Darwinism is occasionally discussed in newspapers. Scientists begin to lecture on Darwin’s evolution theory, mainly to the scientific community.
1882Darwin dies.
1898Firebrand preacher Rev. Talmage catches wind of Darwin’s evolution theory and begins giving disapproving sermons across the nation.
1900Darwin’s theory of evolution gains national acceptance and his intellectual pursuits are credited for “progressing the country.” His theories are even used in advertisements to promote furniture sales.