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Darwin Correspondence Project

From B. J. Sulivan   3 December 1881


Decr. 3/81

My dear Darwin

You have sent me 2s/ too much, and I have had 1£ extra besides.1 As they are always glad of clothes I will ask the secretary to lay out the 22s/ in warm clothing or serge for the boy when they next send out.

My youngest son when on his way to visit his agents at North German Ports & Riga saw a party of poor Fuegians exhibited in Zoological at Berlin   about six I think men women & children: brought from Western T.D.F. by a German vessel   they seem to have been shown almost like wild beasts.2 he wrote a long letter to the Society discribing them and urging that they should be got from their master & brought to England for the purpose of sending them back through our Mission station. The Socy sent me the letter which perhaps they will put in the next magazine.3 It is difficult to advise, but I have suggested that if they can get them when the owner has exhibited them at Hamburg,—to which place he was going,—they might keep them here long enough to teach them a little cleanliness, decent dress &c, and then send them out direct to Sandy Point to go to Ooshuaia.4 I think they must be from Fuegia’s tribe.5 I have no doubt friends of the mission would provide the necessary funds.

Believe me | very sincerely yours | B. J. Sulivan


CD had sent £2 2s. to Sulivan to support the grandson of Orundellico (Jemmy Button) at the mission in Tierra del Fuego (see letter to B. J. Sulivan, 1 December 1881).
Henry Norton Sulivan was a merchant. The ‘Tierra del Fuego’ exhibit, which attracted large crowds, was put on by Carl Hagenbeck at the Berlin Zoological Gardens and comprised four men, four women, and three children; the Fuegians were displayed sitting quietly, walking around, and preparing food on an open fire without the use of pots (Thomson ed. 1996, p. 164). On human displays, see also Qureshi 2011.
The letter written by Henry Sulivan to the South American Missionary Society did not appear in either the January or the February 1882 issue of the South American Missionary Magazine.
Sandy Point (Puntas Arenas) was the southernmost port in Chile. Ushuaia, on the shores of the Beagle Channel, Tierra del Fuego, was the location of the mission station established by the South American Mission Society (Hazlewood 2000, p. 343).
Yokcushlu, named Fuegia Basket by the Beagle crew, was one of the Fuegians brought to England by Robert FitzRoy in 1830. She was of the Alakaluf tribe from the western part of Tierra del Fuego.


Hazlewood, Nick. 2000. Savage. The life and times of Jemmy Button. London: Hodder and Stoughton.

Qureshi, Sadiah. 2011. Peoples on parade: exhibitions, empire, and anthropology in nineteenth-century Britain. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.

Thomson, Rosemarie Garland, ed. 1996. Freakery: cultural spectacles of the extraordinary body. New York: New York University Press.


BJS’s son has seen six Fuegians being exhibited in Berlin; BJS hopes that they might be bought from their master and returned to Tierra del Fuego.

Letter details

Letter no.
Bartholomew James Sulivan
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 177: 317
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 13527,” accessed on 18 August 2022,