Erasmus Darwin House holds a number of objects which belonged to Erasmus and his family, which are on loan from organisations such as Lichfield City Council, Stoke on Trent Potteries Museum, Holburne Museum and English Heritage. His work covered a variety of subjects, from science and inventions to medicine and the education of women, and the collections reflect this, covering topics such as these and more!
Our most prized object is Darwin’s Common Place Book which gives us great insight into the mind of this amazing man. It is a large notebook on loan from English Heritage which contains Darwin’s own notes on his medical cases, his thoughts on such things as meteorology and botany, and some fantastic drawings of his inventions. A group of volunteers have recently completed a demanding project to transcribe the book for our visitors.
‘It was a privilege to transcribe Darwin’s original hand written notes… it felt like he was in the room and speaking the words!
A copy can now be found on the lectern in the Inventions Room which compares Darwin’s original page to a translated page, so now we can better understand his passion for medicine and engineering!
You will also find the Common Place Book as part of the British Museums Teaching History in 100 Objects project which provides resources for teachers who want to use museum objects as a way to interpret history.
Object of the month
A Plan for the Conduct of Female Education in Boarding Schools
Written by Erasmus, this book was published in 1797, to assist his two illegitimate daughters, Susan and Mary Parker, as he set them up as proprietors of a female boarding school in Ashbourne, Derbyshire. The book covers all kinds of subjects including sciences, religion, economy and fortitude, alongside the more traditional subjects of English, grammar, exercise, compassion and embroidery. Darwin believed that women had the same capacity to learn as men and should be taught similarly.
This fascinating book is on permanent display in a cabinet our Invention Room.