David Orme Masson collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of correspondence by Masson to the geographer and meteorologist Hugh Robert Mill. This correspondence includes mention of the British Relief Expedition, 1917 to the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition [Ross Sea Party], 1914-1917.

Administrative / Biographical History

David Orme Masson was born in 1858 in London. He was educated at the University of Edinburgh, graduating with a doctorate in 1884, and Gttingen. In 1880 he was appointed lecturer in chemistry at University College, Bristol, returning to Edinburgh in 1882 to a research fellowship in chemistry. In 1886 he was appointed professor of chemistry at the University of Melbourne, holding the chair until his retirement in 1923.

He played a crucial role in modernising and raising the status and quality of science at the University of Melbourne. Between 1911 and 1913, he served as president of the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science, and from 1916 to 1920 as inaugural chairman of the Advisory Council for Science and Industry. He co-founded (with Tannatt William Edgeworth David) the Australian National Research Council and the Australian Chemical Institute.

He actively assisted the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, 1911-1914 (leader Douglas Mawson) and he was chairman of the committee responsible for the British, Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition, 1929-1931 (leader Sir Douglas Mawson). Masson was knighted in 1923 and died on 10 August 1937 in Melbourne.


The correspondence is arranged chronologically.

Access Information

By appointment.

Some materials deposited at the Institute are NOT owned by the Institute. In such cases the archivist will advise about any requirements imposed by the owner. These may include seeking permission to read, extended closure, or other specific conditions.


Anyone wishing to consult material should ensure they note the entire MS reference and the name of the originator.

The term holograph is used when the item is wholly in the handwriting of the author. The term autograph is used when the author has signed the item.

Descriptions compiled by N. Boneham, Assistant Archivist with assistance from R. Stancombe and reference to Robert Keith Headland Antarctic Chronology, unpublished corrected revision of Chronological list of Antarctic expeditions and related historical events, (1 December 2001) Cambridge University Press (1989) ISBN 0521309034 and Dictionary of National Biography, 1931-1940, Oxford University Press, London (1950) and University of Melbourne

Other Finding Aids

Clive Holland Manuscripts in the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, England - a catalogue, Garland Publishing New York and London (1982) ISBN 0824093941.

Additional finding aids are available at the Institute.

Conditions Governing Use

Copying material by photography, electrostat, or scanning device by readers is prohibited. The Institute may be able to provide copies of some documents on request for lodgement in publicly available repositories. This is subject to conservation requirements, copyright law, and payment of fees.

Copyright restrictions apply to most material. The copyright may lie outside the Institute and, if so, it is necessary for the reader to seek appropriate permission to consult, copy, or publish any such material. (The Institute does not seek this permission on behalf of readers). Written permission to publish material subject to the Institute's copyright must be obtained from the Director. Details of conditions and fees may be had from the Archivist.


Further accessions possible.