Joseph Banks collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of a paper by Banks regarding the treatment of sealskins circa 1808

Administrative / Biographical History

Joseph Banks was born on 15 February 1743 in London into a wealthy land-owning family. He was educated at Harrow School and Eton College, where he became interested in botany. Between 1760 and 1763, Banks studied at Christ Church, Oxford, inheriting a considerable fortune after the death of his father in 1761. His personal wealth allowed him to travel to Newfoundland and Labrador between 1766 and 1767, where he collected many botanical and zoological specimens.

In 1768, Banks travelled to the South Pacific on the British Naval Expedition, 1768-1771 (leader James Cook). With the Swedish naturalist, Daniel Carl Solander, Banks recorded and collected vast quantities of botanical and zoological specimens, and wrote detailed ethnological descriptions.

Between July and November 1772, Banks travelled in the brig Sir Lawrence to the Inner Hebrides, the Orkney Islands and Iceland, recording and collecting more botanical specimens for his growing library and herbarium. On his return, he served as unofficial scientific adviser to King George III and director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, contributing to the development of the gardens as a great storehouse of living plants from all over the world. A fellow of the Royal Society from 1766, he was appointed president in 1778, an office he held until his death in 1820. He was deeply interested in the development of Australia and closely connected with the voyages in Australian waters of Matthew Flinders, who was accompanied by Banks's own librarian, Robert Brown. In 1781, Banks was created a baronet and was appointed to the Order of the Bath in 1795. He died on 19 June 1820 in London. Banks Island in the Arctic Archipelago and Banks Island off the British Columbia coast are named for him. The genus Banksia is named in his honour, along with many species of plants from around the world.

Published work The Endeavour journal of Joseph Banks 1768-1771 by Joseph Banks, edited by J.C. Beaglehole, Public Library of New South Wales and Angus & Robertston Sydney (1962) SPRI Library Shelf (7)91(08)[1768-1771]


The collection 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 Arctic, exploration and development c500 BC to 1915, an encyclopaedia by Clive Holland Garland Publishing, London (1994) ISBN number 0824076486 and Exploring Polar Frontiers, a historical encyclopaedia by William Mills San Diego and Oxford, 2003

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