It seems that Charles Darwin had no use for the inhabitants of Australia – and he stated thus in no uncertain terms.
“It can hardly fail to deteriorate,” Charles Darwin said after his voyage here in 1836. Indeed, he found the platypus more intriguing than the convict stock who proliferated. “Nothing but rather severe necessity should compel me to emigrate.”
Professor McCalman will launch a massive project to document the families descended from Australia’s convict population at next month’s Evolution conference, thus marking the bicentenary of Darwin’s birth. With the help of amateur genealogists, a team ranging from historians to epidemiologists want to uncover the many Australian family stories and get them on the historical record – showing in part that Aussies are not genetically predisposed to crime. The project, lead by the University of Tasmania, intends to feed the family stories into a grander narrative about the nation.
Once authenticated, an “honour roll” of convict settlers will be assembled online.
Read more about the project in the January 26, 2009 edition of the Sydney Morning Herald.