Digitisation of the Academy archives

May 31, 2021
Fine ink drawing on sepia coloured paper of right and left sections of a skull, labelled with handwritten text
Base of the skull from below by Charles Fenner (MS178 000004)

Digitisation at the Academy is opening new pathways into the historic archive and library collections donated by numerous Fellows of the Academy, other prominent scientists and scientific organisations.

The digitisation project began in late 2020 and has focused on evaluating the condition of fragile collection material, improving conservation and capturing images and associated descriptive data in a way that is searchable and freely available online to researchers around the world.

Already the project has captured some extraordinary material, including Professor Frank Fenner’s diary entry from 8 May 1980, when he stood before the World Health Organization Assembly in Geneva and officially declared smallpox eradicated.

There are exquisite hand-drawn anatomy diagrams by Charles Fenner, diary entries written by geologist T.W. Edgeworth David halfway up an active Antarctic volcano, and correspondence from Walter George Duffield—the first Director of Mount Stromlo Observatory in the ACT—to his wife Doris that begin as love letters before swerving into an analysis of solar physics research in early twentieth-century Australia.

Accessing the digital collection

A new searcheable catalogue of archive and library collections and images can be accessed via the Academy website, though some material is only available by special permission. Contact the Academy to enquire.

Search Academy collections

Volunteering at the archives

The Academy is seeking volunteers to work with the archivist. Opportunities exist to assist with digitisation, and to work online to transcribe and extract vital information from our nationally significant history of science collection.

Interested volunteers should contact the archivist at library@science.org.au

Digitisation project donation appeal

The Academy digitisation project is largely funded by donations from Fellows and friends of the Academy and would not be possible without this support. Donations from organisations and individuals are welcome and will contribute toward the costs of digitising the archives. Donations may be made via the Academy’s website or through contacting the Academy’s Philanthropy Manager, Isobel Griffin, by email or phone on 02 6201 9471.

© 2022 Australian Academy of Science