Today marks the 200th anniversary of the births of Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin. Although I only know as much about Lincoln as someone who has grown up in America imbibes with the air and water, I have had a soft spot for Darwin since taking a cultural history class at the University of Aberdeen on Victorian Science and Technology. We will be revisiting some of his writings and ideas in my intellectual history course this spring, and I am looking forward to considering again how he was both influenced by the ideas and events of his time, and how he and his work have continued to inspire and trouble many people over the past two hundred years. One of my regrets about my year in Aberdeen was that I never made it to Down House, Kent, the Darwin family home, which is supposed to be both beautiful and historically fascinating. However, the Chicago Field Museum recently hosted a stunning exhibition, that includes many documents and objects from Down House.
My friend and colleague Jeremy has a note over at his blog, PhiloBiblos, about some of the celebrations taking place in the Boston area. Our own exhibition, coordinated by our head reference librarian, the amazing Elaine Grublin, documents Lincolns ties to Massachusetts, and opens today. It will be open daily, 1-4pm, through the end of April.