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Whitman Receives Rare First-Edition Darwin Book


    WALLA WALLA, Wash. – Whitman College has received an exceedingly rare copy of Charles Darwin’s biology classic, “On the Origin of Species.” From the first edition of October, 1859, the beautifully preserved volume has been appraised at $125,000.

    On Saturday, August 28, Chris Bromley, a 1997 graduate of the college, presented the book to president Tom Cronin and library director Henry Yaple in an informal ceremony at the college’s Penrose Library.

    The book has been in the Bromley family since the 1950s. In recent years it has been in the possession of Bromley’s parents, Michael and Rebecca Bromley, of Colorado Springs, Colorado. “They valued the education I received at Whitman,” noted Chris Bromley, “and since it is a book only a college can truly appreciate, they decided to gift it to Whitman.”

    Only 1,250 copies of “On the Origin of Species” were printed in the first edition, and they were all sold on the first day it was offered for sale. “No one knows exactly how many books from the first edition still exist,” said Yaple.

    Delbert Hutchison, assistant professor of biology at Whitman, said, “This is perhaps the most influential book of the last five centures. It completely changed the way we view ourselves, our origins, our responsibilities to nature and our place in the world. Our getting a copy of the original printing is such an honor and a generous gift.”

    Charles Drabek, chair of Whitman’s biology department, noted, “’On the Origin of Species’ literally changed the world overnight. Today, nothing makes sense in biology except in the light of evolution.” 

CONTACT: Lenel Parish, Whitman College News Service, (509) 527-5156

 Email: parishlj@whitman.edu

Published on Sep 16, 2004
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