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ACLS Mourns the Passing of Anne Burkhardt


ACLS was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Anne Burkhardt on March 11, 2012. Anne was associated with the ACLS–sponsored Darwin Correspondence Project since its beginnings in 1974, providing critical assistance that helped ensure the regular publication of the volumes.

Anne was born in La Crosse, Wisconsin and studied first at Ohio Wesleyan University and then at the University of Wisconsin where she was awarded a Ph.D. in philosophy. She taught philosophy at Bennington College for 32 years, from 1948 until 1980. She married ACLS President Emeritus Frederick Burkhardt in 1972.

In 1974, Fred conceived of an extensive editorial project to collect and publish all known letters to and from Charles Darwin. He served as its general editor until his demise in 2007. From 1974 to 2004, Anne accompanied Fred on annual summer visits to the project's offices at the University of Cambridge, UK, devoting herself to checking the transcriptions of the letters. She continued this crucial assistance back at their home in Bennington, also organizing groups of volunteers to help proofread the texts. This work was essential; as Fred always emphasized, good transcriptions could survive poor footnotes, but brilliant footnotes could never make up for errors in the letter texts.

Alison Pearn, associate director of the project, said, "Anne's humour, astute judgement of the tasks that really mattered, and measured dedication were hugely appreciated by all who had the privilege to know and to work with her."

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