Human Nature


Human Nature


Items in the Human Nature Collection

Charles Darwin to his sister Susan Elizabeth Darwin (1838)
As early as 1838, Darwin had begun to record and make observations on expressions, noting the behaviour of animals as well as the development of children – both his own and those of his friends. Just weeks before her marriage to Charles, Emma…

Emma Darwin (Emma Wedgwood) to Charles Darwin [20–21 Jan 1839]
I have not been able to catch her in a reflecting mood, to make yr observation but she told me a fact which I think quite worthy to go down in your book along with the baby’s nods & winks viz. that when she coughs very sharply in the dark sparks…

C. Moore (trans.) Lavater's Essays on physiognomy: with ornamental caricatures, and finished portraits (London, 1797)
Darwin broke with previous traditions in physiognomy. His notebooks and correspondence contain references to earlier works in the field, such as the Fragments of Physiognomy of Johann Caspar Lavater. Darwin owned the ten-volume French edition, with…

Charles Darwin to F.J.H. von Mueller (28th February, [1867])
Darwin made use of a worldwide network of scientists and non-scientists to gather information. In 1867, he began to send out handwritten questionnaires about human expression, in particular to those who were in contact with non-European peoples.…

Handy Royal Atlas (London, 1869)
This map of the British Empire in 1869 shows some of the places where Darwin sent questionnaires

Charles Darwin to James Crichton-Browne  (22nd May, 1869)
Darwin discussed Duchenne’s work in correspondence with the psychiatrist and amateur photographer James Crichton-Browne who became another collaborator to Expression.

Guillaume Benjamin Amand Duchenne (1806–75)
In 1862, the French physiologist Guillaume-Benjamin Duchenne published a photographically illustrated study of facial expression. By applying an electric current, Duchenne was able to mechanically produce expressions, and to sustain them long enough…