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Come along at 14.30 to the Attenborough Studio and join Daisy Cunynghame (Assistant Records Manager, Library & Archives) as she talks about a fascinating slice of Museum history.


The Museum has survived two world wars, the Blitz and the rise of nuclear weapons. It has not always escape unscathed, as the pockmarks of bomb damage covering the side entrance show, but it has always been prepared. Join her as she delves into the Museum's Archives to discover the extreme lengths that scientists and staff went to in order to protect the collections during World War II. Find out about the initial planning, mobilisation and the evacuation of specimens, hear tales of espionage and reveal the scientific work carried out by the Museum to aid the war effort.


This event is FREE!


Archive Guide-001-28072011.jpg


Join Jill Darrell (Palaeontology Department) and Hellen Sharman (Library & Archives) in the Attenborough Studio to learn about William Smith and his famous geological map (1815).


Jill will be in the studio discussing the history behind the science and the story behind the man, and Hellen will join her via live link to the Library, to introduce the map and discuss it's features.


Come along to the studio ready for a 14.30 start.


This event is free.


To learn more about this map and William Smith read our previous Item of the Month blog



"Evidently a record of weights" - a somewhat curious title but not a surprising one for this manuscript volume from the Banksian collection in the Botany Library from the bequest of Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820).



It is assumed that they are the weights of some of the visitors to Banks' residence at 32 Soho Square where he lived from 1777 until his death. It was also in 1777 that Banks began his long association with Jonas Dryander who's name appears in the front of the volume.


This alphabeticaly arranged manuscript notebook of people's weights was started with some vigour on St. Valentines Day in 1778 with that of Lord Athlone. The final "weigh-in" recorded was Mr Amiot in August 1814.



Lord Athlone's weight is given as "13 8 1/2" and is immediatedly followed by his wife, Lady Athlone, who weighed in on the same day almost 2 stones heavier at "15 10 1/2".


The manuscript also charts Banks' own weight and those members of his family namely his mother "Mrs Banks of Chelsea", his wife "Mrs Banks" and his sister, Sarah Sofia "Miss Banks" who lived with them in Soho Square. Once Banks became a Baronet in 1771 his entry changed accordingly to "Sir Joseph Banks" and his wife to "Lady Banks".



The volume is interesting for many reasons in that it documents some of the guests to Banks' house and include many important and influential people of the time. They include :


Alexander Dalrymple (1737-1808), Scottish geographer and Hydrographer of the British Admiralty (13 stone, 2 pounds on Oct. 29, 1779)


Georg Forster (1754-1794), German naturalist who travelled on Cook's second voyage to the Pacific (10 stone, 3 pounds on Febr. 27, 1778)


Abbe Fontana (1730-1805), founder of modern toxinology (10 stone, 13 pounds on Aug. 18, 1778)


Charles Greville (1749-1809), MP for Warwick and authority on tropical plant gardening and collector of antiquities (10 stone, 6 1/4 pounds on Feb 14, 1778). On a return visit on March 19, 1781 he was slightly heavier at 10 stone, 9 pounds.


Nikolaus von Jacquin (1727-1817), eminent scientist who studied medicine, chemistry and botany (10 stone, 4 pounds on June 19, 1789 with an increase of 2 pounds upon his next visit on Dec.27, 1789).


James Lee (1715-1795), Scottish nurseryman (12 stone, 8 1/2 on Sept. 20, 1778)


Reverend John Lightfoot (1735-1788), English conchologist and botanist (12 stone on May 11, 1778).


Major James Rennell (1742-1830), English geography and pioneer of Oceanography (upon his first visit on March 20, 1781 he weighted 9 stone 11. The most weighed visitor at a total of eight weigh-ins, his final entry on April 21, 1789 was 9 stone, 4 1/2 pounds).


Carl Peter Thunberg (1743-1828), Swedish naturalist and apostle of Linnaeus (9 stone, 12 pounds on Dec. 25, 1778)


The weights are not all of humans though, Mab the dog appears three times and a Terrapin from the Galapagos also features twice in the volume :





It is not clear why the weights of visitors (and animals) were documented, but Banks was regarded as a born adminstrator and valued classificatory order. In December 1799, he had compiled a set of tables of money, weights and measures of all the trading nations at the time and his interest in the international standardisation of weights and measures saw him invited to Paris by the French Government to confer with the Institut on the fundamental units of Weights and Measures.


Banks also performed the chairing role on the British Government's committee to review Britain's system of weights and measures from 1817-1819. Following their report, the imperial system of weights and measures was introduced in 1824.


JSTOR & BioOne

Posted by N Bevan Apr 18, 2012



New extended access to major research databases available for Library registered users.


JSTOR has recently launched an experimental program to offer free, read-online access to individual scholars and researchers who register (for free) with a MYJSTOR account.


The 'Read and Register' initative aims to extend access to JSTOR beyond the walls of a subscribing institution.


At present approximately 75 journals from more than 40 publishers are part of this program. JSTOR plan to add additional titles at a later date. A full list of titles can be found here.


Once registered users can read and save up to three items or articles at one time. The item must stay on your shelf for a minimum of 14 days but then it can be removed and replaced with a new item. For full information on how to access this contet go to JSTOR.



BioOne offers full text access to a wide range of high impact bioscience research journals, check the full list of journals here.


BioOne's mobile site allows registered library users to access BioOne from their supported device for up to 28 days free of charge.


Come into the library and access BioOne via the library's subscription, here you can 'pair your device' to BioOne. This is easy to do, full instructions can be found here, or ask a member of staff. After 28 days access will expire and you will need to come back to the library to renew.


To become a registered library user please make an appointment to come and visit us. Contact information, details on what you need to bring on your first visit, opening times and other information can all be found here.


By Lisa Di Tommaso


The Library recently lent a selection of its artwork and manuscripts to two institutions in Australia. Watercolours from the First Fleet, Sydney Parkinson and Ferdinand Bauer collections went to the Australian National Maritime Museum for their exhibition entitled Fish in Australian Art.


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State Library of New South Wales


Items relating to John Lewin, the first professional artist to travel to Australia and earn his living there, are on loan to the State Library of New South Wales as part of their new exhibition, Wild Art.


A member of the Library’s staff travelled with the material from London, ensuring it arrived safely. While there, she was also able to see the items for the Lewin exhibition installed in the gallery.


Exhibitions such as these provide a unique opportunity for the Library to showcase its special collections throughout the world and allow greater access to our materials.


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State Library of New South Wales