Banks Papers

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About the collection

When Sir Joseph Banks died in 1820, he left behind a well organised archive which spanned from 1767 to 1822 and documented his influential career. It was the most comprehensive archive of its kind in Britain, perhaps the world.

The Library has an extensive collection relating to Sir Joseph Banks including correspondence about Australia sent or received by Sir Joseph Banks over a thirty year period. His letters reveal his prodigious natural history networks, his place at the centre of a widespread, energetic and productive world of science, exploration and politics and his interest and engagement with colonial NSW.

This collection also includes reports, invoices, accounts, maps and watercolours which document the far reaching influence of Banks on the colony, his communication with and support of navigators Bass and Flinders' explorations and the work of botanists like Brown, Suttor, Caley and Cunningham, who regularly sent him samples of their specimens. Banks was also an important figure in the politics of the early colony, supporting the ill-fated Governor Bligh and corresponding with three other governors of NSW.

The collection also includes one of the Library's most significant manuscripts, the 'Endeavour' Journal. The Journal documents Cooks first voyage including Banks' original observations of the land and people, plants and animals contributing to our understanding of Australia before European settlement. Banks also created one of the earliest Aboriginal word lists complied by a European.

When completed, these transcriptions will be available on the Joseph Banks Papers website.

View the Sir Joseph Banks Papers website

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