Save Charles Lyell's notebooks

Thank you! Together, we did it.

Charles Lyell’s 294 notebooks were due to be sold abroad. However, a temporary export bar was imposed, giving the University of Edinburgh and over 1,100 supporters from Scotland, the United Kingdom and around the world the opportunity to raise the necessary funds to purchase them. A warm and heartfelt thank you to those who made it possible!

Expert opinion

Portrait of Charles Lyell

Charles Lyell’s importance as a world-leading scientist is unquestioned. His remarkable notebooks are key to appreciating his standing as arguably the most significant figure in the earth sciences in Britain in the past two centuries. They illuminate our understanding of the nineteenth century, and shed light on contemporary concerns including climate change, species diversity and the meanings of deep time. We are delighted that the University of Edinburgh’s efforts together with the generous support from many donors and different institutions to save Lyell’s fascinating notebooks has been successful and look forward to these being made public.”

Professor Charles W J Withers, Ogilvie Chair of Geography, University of Edinburgh, Geographer Royal for Scotland

Professor James A Secord, Professor of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, Director, Darwin Correspondence Project

Nick Crane,  Dr Hermione Cockburn and Richard Fortey

Leading institutions, groups and individuals have supported our campaign to save Lyell's notebooks, including:

  • Nicholas Crane, Trustee of Royal Geographical Society
  • Dr Hermione Cockburn, Scientific Director of Dynamic Earth
  • Richard Fortey, television presenter
  • British Geological Survey
  • Bodleian Libraries, Oxford University
  • The History of Geology Group
  • The Geological Society of London
  • History of Earth Sciences Society

See who else has supported the campaign

Calendar with push pins

New blog - 'Through Lyell's Eyes'

David McClay, Philanthropy Manager, Library & University Collections, has written a post on the imminent arrival of Lyell’s 294 notebooks for the new Through Lyell's Eyes blog.

Colourful spines of Lyell's notebooks

Who was Lyell and what do his notebooks tell us?

Scan of a page in Lyell's notebook mentioning Darwin

Find out about the University of Edinburgh’s commitment to making our collections freely accessible to all and learn more about our archives.