A Yale Tale: Darwin’s Letter to O.C. Marsh

A Yale Tale: Darwin’s Letter to O.C. Marsh

Research by O.C. Marsh, the first director of the Yale Peabody Museum and the first paleontologist at Yale, provided some of the fossil evidence supporting Darwin’s theory of evolution. In this letter, dated August 31, 1880, Charles Darwin thanks Marsh for a copy of his monograph, remarking:

“I received some time ago your very kind note of July 28th, & yesterday the magnificent volume. I have looked with renewed admiration at the plates, & will soon read the text. Your work on these old birds & on the many fossil animals of N. America has afforded the best support to the theory of evolution, which has appeared within the last 20 years. The general appearance of the copy which you have sent me is worthy of its contents, and I can say nothing stronger than this.

With cordial thanks, believe me yours very sincerely,

Charles Darwin.”


Othniel Charles Marsh

Professor of Paleontology, Yale University, 1866-1899
Chief U.S.G.S. Vertebrate Paleontologist, 1882-1892
President National Academy of Sciences, 1883-1895


Darwin’s letter of thanks to Yale’s O. C. Marsh after receiving a copy of Marsh’s famous monograph, Odontornithes: A Monograph of the Extinct Toothed Birds of North America, 1880.

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