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 in Focus
Very little is known about the provenance of this silhouette. It depicts Erasmus playing chess with his son Erasmus (on the left). Erasmus II was a lawyer who drowned in 1799 at the age of 40. These kinds of silhouettes were produced using an early camera. It belongs to a member of the Darwin family and is on long term loan to the museum. It is displayed in the first cabinet in the Inventions Room on the ground floor.
Please do not turn up at the museum with a donation for the collection as we are unable to accept everything that is offered. With limited space and storage, we cannot take everything. We have an accessions policy within museum accreditation. If you have an item that you think maybe of interest to the museum please email the office and we will pass the information to the curator for consideration.