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Sir Charles Maurice Yonge Collection
Pictured are A.P. Orr (a Scottish hydrographer) and C.M. Yonge (leader of the GBR expedition). Photo credit National Library of Australia.
Sir Charles Maurice Yonge (1899-1986) was a highly distinguished marine zoologist whose contribution to marine science and especially malacology, was long and productive, with a publication record spanning 63 years. He led the highly successful Great Barrier Reef Expedition of 1928-1929, which opened up the scientific world to the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef, and laid the foundations of scientific study into modern coral reef biology. He was a dedicated scientist who travelled widely, a fine teacher and a prolific writer. He inspired generations of upcoming young scientists around the world to take his research further and discover more.
Throughout his life, Sir Maurice acquired an extensive private library of books, reports and papers relating to all aspects of the sea, in all its wonders. In 1982, knowing that his health was failing him, he sold his private scientific library to the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS). Sir Maurice had undertaken a six-week research trip to AIMS in 1978, and formed such lasting bonds with scientists and personnel there, that he felt the most appropriate home for his library was at AIMS.
Comprising around several thousand items, the collection includes works published from the early 1700s to the twentieth century. The subject range of the collection is overall marine, with malacology a strong subject area. Many other marine subjects are also represented, such as oceanography, fisheries, marine biology, marine botany and zoology, biographies, records of major scientific expeditions, history, marine fiction, anthologies & poetry, and even seafood cookbooks.
The collection held pride of place in the AIMS Library from 1982 to 2016. In order to ensure safe, long-term preservation of the collection, it was gifted to James Cook University Library in 2016, and is now housed under strict archival conditions in Special Collections.
Find out more:
The Luana, at Snapper Island, 1928.
Photo: National Library of Australia.
Read more about the Expedition to the Great Barrier Reef 1928-1929 and the Sir C.M. Yonge Collection in this fabulous series of blog posts by Trisha Fielding, Special Collections Library Officer:
- Expedition to the Great Barrier Reef 1928-1929 - Part 1. In which a group of British and Australian scientists embarked on an expedition to investigate the greatest coral reef in the world.
- Expedition to the Great Barrier Reef 1928-1929 - Part 2. In which getting to the reef involves some adventure.
- Expedition to the Great Barrier Reef 1928-1929 - Part 3. In which we meet the daring explorers.
- Expedition to the Great Barrier Reef 1928-1929 - Part 4. In which we explore the work at Low Isles and life on a tropical island.
- Expedition to the Great Barrier Reef 1928-1929 - Part 5. In which we focus on the significance of the expedition and on the women of the expedition.
- Return... to the Great Barrier Reef. In which we learn what happened to Yonge after the expedition, and follow his books on their journey to AIMS and JCU.
The Collection comes to JCU
- A Library of Exquisite Treasures. Former AIMS Librarian Suzie Davies talk about the unique challenge of taking on an entire collection of books.
- 'Behind the Scenes' of the Sir C.M. Yonge Collection - Part 1. An insight into what the cataloguers have discovered as they work their way through the new collection.
- 'Behind the Scenes' of the Sir C.M. Yonge Collection - Part 2. We discover that the librarians put books in the freezer (yes, literally), and find out what the library officers and volunteers have learned through working with these books.
- Official launch of the Sir C.M. Yonge Collection. In which many people come to the library to see witness the launch of the collection.
Highlights from the Collection
- Discovering the Yonge Collection - Sowerby's 'Genera of Recent Fossil Shells'. Join us for a look at one of the magnificent books from the collection.
- Discovering the Yonge collection - Cubières' 'Abridged History of Sea Shells'. A small book by a man with big connections with fine illustrations of many shells.
- Discovering the Yonge Collection - Ellis & Solander's 'Natural History of Many Curious and Uncommon Zoophytes'. Features the first recorded image of a crown of thorns starfish.
- Discovering the Yonge Collection - Duhamel du Monceau's 'The General Treaty of Fish'. Aunique insight into the practices around fishing in France during the mid-to-late 18th century.
Listen to the ABC North Queensland's Pat Hession discuss the Yonge Expedition and Collection with Bronwyn McBurnie and other special guests. Click on the image to hear the podcast.