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.
Chronicling America is a searchable digital collection of historic newspaper pages from 1777-1963 sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress.
Included in the website is the Directory of U.S. Newspapers in American Libraries, a searchable index to newspapers published in the United States since 1690, which helps researchers identify what titles exist for a specific place and time, and how to access them.
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 - 1898
Darwinism is occasionally discussed in newspapers. Scientists begin to lecture on Darwin’s evolution theory, mainly to the scientific community.
Firebrand preacher Rev. Talmage catches wind of Darwin’s evolution theory and begins giving disapproving sermons across the nation.
Darwin’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.