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DARWIN, Sir George Howard (1845-1912)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0402 SSC/30
Held at: Royal Geographical Society
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Full title: DARWIN, Sir George Howard (1845-1912)
Date(s): 1900-1912
Level of description: Collection level
Extent: Five folders
Name of creator(s): Darwin | Sir | George Howard | 1845-1912 | Knight | mathematician and astronomer


Administrative/Biographical history:

Sir George Howard Darwin was born on 9 July 1845 at Down House, Downe, Kent and was the second son of the naturalist, Charles Darwin; educated from 1856 at Clapham grammar school, he studied mathematics and science. Darwin failed to gain entrance scholarships at the University of Cambridge in 1863 and 1864, but matriculated at Trinity College in 1864. In 1866, Darwin won a foundation scholarship at Trinity and in 1868 was placed second wrangler in the tripos, winning the second Smith's prize; later that autumn he was elected a Fellow of Trinity. Darwin made law his profession, studying in London from 1869 to 1872, though he never practised due to illness. He turned to scientific pursuits, returning to Trinity in 1873.

Darwin studied the solar system, tidal theory, geodesy and dynamic meteorology. His first major scientific paper concerned geodesy and was entitled 'On the influence of geological changes on the earth's axis of rotation', it was read before the Royal Society in 1876. In 1879 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, and by the mid-1880s he was well on his way to becoming a central figure of the scientific aristocracy of late Victorian and Edwardian Britain. In 1883 he succeeded James Challis as Plumian Professor of Astronomy and Experimental Philosophy at Cambridge and won the Telford medal of the Institution of Civil Engineers. Darwin was an influential member of the Seismological Congress and the meteorological council to the Royal Society.

By the 1890s, Darwin was considered Britain's leading geodesist; he urged his country's membership in the International Geodetic Association,and later became its vice-president. Darwin's researches laid the groundwork for the startling growth of the geophysical sciences and in 1911 he was awarded the Copley medal of the Royal Society, the country's highest scientific distinction. Darwin was made a Knight Commander of the Bath in 1905 after his successful presidency of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. Darwin died at Newnham Grange on 7 December 1912 of cancer.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of Sir George Howard Darwin, 1900-1912, comprise files of printed papers and correspondence on the International Geodetic Conference held in London 1909, concerning administrative and social matters, but also letters from Gen Ardagh and SG Burrard (Survey of India).

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
English, French, German, Italian

System of arrangement:

Folders divided by subjects.

Conditions governing access:

Accessible via The Foyle Reading Room. Free of charge for Fellows, Members and those with valid academic identification. All other users pay a charge and must bring identification in order to register on arrival.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Photocopying at Archivist's discretion, and subject to completion of 'application for copies' form. No reproduction or publication without permission of the RGS-IBG Archivist.

Finding aids:

The RGS archives: a handlist / compiled by Christine Kelly. London: RGS, 1977 and catalogue entry online at Access to Archives.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Donated by Lady Darwin 1913.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Correspondence block 1881-1910. Fifty one letters from Sir G Darwin to Sir David Gill in the Gill Collection.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Prepared by Archives Volunteer using DNB and existing finding aids and edited by Samantha Velumyl, AIM25 cataloguer.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
14 January 2002 and May 2008.

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