VICTOR WOLFGANG von HAGEN TREVIGNANO ROMANO 00069 ROMA, ITALIA. June 13, 1978. Mr. G.T. Corley Smith Greensted Hall Ongar, Essex CM5 9LD Dear Mr. Corley Smith: I am beholden to you for your gracious letter of May 22, 1978, wherein you inform me that the Committee has recognized my pioneer work on the conservation program on the Galapagos. Please extend my gratitude to the committee. Even more so, I am grateful for the alacrity with which you responded to my request for cine-film on the Galapagos. I assure you of an immediate follow through and will advise. Enclosed is the detailed history, pithy as it is, of all the various events until 1950, at which I gave up my efforts, only to see them carried through to fruition. You have perhaps not seen my book South America Called Them, in which Darwin appears. It is being sent to you. Although I have a vast writing program, six books in progress, I am up-dating and expanding Darwin: An Evolutionary Portrait. At the same time I am thinking of enlarging Galapagos from the book you read (published by the Univ. of Oklahoma, 1949), obtaining some of the fine color that appeared in Galapagos, a Flow of Wilderness. Here, then, would be the place for your Committee to place in my hands the development of the research station so that it could become more widely known. I would then arrange that 50 per cent of the royalties be turned over to the Committee. Since many of my books remain in print from thirty to forty years, this could be, in time, no small sum. Of that more anon. I remain Gratefully yours, VICTOR W. von HAGEN.
The Chronology of the Darwin Memorial Expedition, and the Plan for the Darwin Research Station. 1933 Publication of Charles Darwin's Diary, edited by Nora Barlow, his granddaughter Alerted by the approaching date and Darwin's statement that the visit to the Galapagos..."origin of all my views...", I noted that no one anywhere seemed aware of the landing of Charles Darwin on the Galapagos on September 15, 1835, and that the centenary would soon appear. I discussed the subject with William Beebe (Galapagos, World's End), and was encouraged by him. I wrote to Mrs. Nora Barlow, and she sent me a copy of the Diary autographed by herself and Major Leonard Darwin (only surviving son). It was they who authorized such an expedition. Fall. Darwin Memorial Expedition. A three-masted schooner, The Golden State, was purchased. A list of crew members was begun. To aid the financing of the expedition, a bi-monthly journal was conceived (see enclosed) to be issued while the expedition made its ecological survey along the Pacific coast, ending at the Galapagos. Advertising for the journal was promised. MacMillan Co. was to be the distributor. Knowing the Latin American character, I had an artist sculpt and cast the Darwin Medal and three were struck in silver (one to be presented to the President of Ecuador). I secured the cooperation of all Latin American governments to be visited. There was aid in the form of loans of equipment from the New York Botanical Garden, books from the California Academy of Sciences, and Dr. R.C. Murphy (Oceanic Birds of South America) had a cast made of the bust of Darwin at the Museum of Natural History and saw that it was shipped to Guayaquil. But times were out of joint. As conceived the expedition would not sail, the Golden State was sold, the journal was cancelled, but I was made a representative of the California World's Fair, then in formation. No funds came from any source but my meager own. 1934 A smaller expedition sailed to Ecuador. In Guayaquil I organized a group of businessmen and professors at the University of Guayaquil as a Galapagos Committee to promote
-2- public interest in the idea of a research station and the expedtion to it (for Ecuador feared North American annexation). Eventually a copy of the Darwin bust put on the Galapagos was displayed at the University. The copy of the Darwin bust was sent to Quito where a local sculptor gave it a patina of bronze prepared from bronze filings,and then he sculpted the placque with a profile of Darwin as a young man. The text was written by Major Leonard Darwin. While this was in progress, I: 1) obtained an audience with the President, presented him the first of the Darwin medallions, and was given official permission to bring the expedition to the Galapagos. 2) I contacted the representative of the Thomas de la Rue Company, gave them a series of designs for the Darwin Memorial Stamps. They then obtained a printing order for the stamps from the regime. 3) The next scheme was to have the Scott Stamp Co. in New York, stamp dealers, to agree to issue first covers of the first air mail flight to the Galapagos; 4) secure agreement with Pan American Airways to make the first flight to the Galapagos; 5) have myself appointed honorary postmaster of the Galapagos so as to make the official cancellation of the air mail cover, the net profits to go to the found- ing of the Galapagos Research Station; and 6) design the base of the monument and involve various key Ecuadorian senators in the project. All that being underway, I took my expedition into the Upper Amazon for eight months. In May 1935 I emerged and began to make final preparations. The New York Times promised maximum publicity, as did the Illustrated London News (Mr. Bruce Ingram, who loaned me typescripts of early voyages in his possession.) 1935 June. The expedition sailed on the monthly sailing of the San Cristobal. Mason was dropped off at Charles Island, where the monument was to be placed with the bust. We moved to Academy Bay and set up headquarters. Botanical research - all plants, with ecological map, deposited at New York Botanical Garden; insects at the American Museum of Natural History, Termites, with specialized research in intestinal fauna to Dr. A.E. Emerson, University of Chicago. Day of Darwin inauguration. No plane, no stamps or covers. We then learned that there was a palace revolution, the president deposed and another... Stamp scheme ended. However, the stamps did appear afterward.
-3- December. Arrival of MS Stranger (Capt. Fred Lewis of San Diego) as arranged. There were thirty Sea Scouts aboard with one professional topographer. We sailed on the Stranger to Hood, Duncan, Seymour, Jervis, James, Abingdon, Albemarle, staying for some days on each. On the smaller islands after a briefing I and my 30 pairs of eyes set out across the island. All was noted, tortoises, iguanas, goats, dogs, etc. Out of this came one of the first faunal survyes; maps were made, films exposed. 1936. January. (Secret plan) A small US fleet arm, commanding vessel USS RANGER, Admiral Horn commanding. Our vessel was the USS LAPWING Lt. Capt. Clyde Smith commanding. We cruised and on board I wrote the first naval intelligence which the US Navy had had in one century. Submitted by Admiral Horn to Chief of Naval Intelligence Capt. W.D. Puleston (commendation sent March 31, 1936, by way of American Embassy). February. Quito. Decorated by Republic of Ecuador with Orden al Merito for "Distinguished services to the Republic of Ecuador." February to May. Wrote, working on Galapagos plan. During this time I wrote to every institution in America I could think of to ask advice and to secure interest. No one responded except Harold Collidge: they were not interested. May 14, President Paez signed Executive Decree No 31 declaring the Galapagos a national reserve. In the decree was a section which empowered the setting up of a Research Station. I now had to wait until it was printed in the Official Gazette; when this was done two weeks later, three years of intense planning came to an end. September. In New York I received an invitation to adress the London Section for the Advancement of Science. I wrote articles for the Geographical Magazine (Michael Huxley), Illustrated London News, and many other publications. I set up meetings, lectured widely. At Cambridge (Sir Galton Darwin, Master of Christ College) I gave the major lectures before many Darwins and Huxleys. This is when Julian Huxley entered the picture (I have sent you copies of the bulletins). Julian then gave me a letter to Lord Moyne, who in turn had me meet the Naval people, who promised in a letter certain needed naval materials for such a station. Back in New York I continued to publish in Natural History, Canadian Geographical, New York Times, et cetera. Books: Ecuador, the Unknown (Oxford 1938) Herman Melville's Encantadas 1940 (later) South America Called Them 1945 Ecuador and the Galapagos 1949
-4- I put up exhibits, got the US Navy to agree to follow the British in giving surveyed naval equipment, then war was upon us. But even when serving with my regiment I was called back to Washington to bring my reports up to date. All ships sailing in these waters had my report aboard. My conservation suggestions were, in general, heeded. In 1947, believing the Galapagos plan ended, I gave to Yale University almost the whole of my Galapagos collections. This is my side of the story. And yours?