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Papers of Sir Joseph Banks

The State Library of New South Wales
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Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820), a wealthy Englishman, became a staunch advocate of British settlement in Australia after election to the British Royal Society of Antiquities and accompanying James Cook on his first trip to the South Seas on the Endeavour in 1768. Banks maintained contact with Cook during Cook’s subsequent two voyages and saved much of his correspondence with Cook and with others interested in botany or the South Seas. This included William Bligh, the captain of the Bounty, famous for its mutiny in April of 1789, and Matthew Flinders, whose voyage on the Investigator in 1801 resulted in a redefined map of Australia. Banks also made a voyage to Iceland in 1772 and had contact with Sir George Macartney’s embassy in China in the 1790s. This site offers more than 10,000 manuscript pages relating to Banks, including correspondences to and from Banks, invoices, journals, a few maps, charts, and watercolors. It is especially rich in information on botany, the South Seas, and voyages by Cook, Bligh, and Flinders. Most of these documents have been transcribed, but the maps and charts and some of the documents are scans of the originals. The site lists all holdings in a separate window at the left of the screen and offers a search function. It is one of four online collections hosted by the State Library of New South Wales, one of which is the Matthew Flinders Collection. This collection goes into more detail about Flinders’ voyages than the information in the Banks collection, and includes many of Flinders’s personal papers, journals, letters, and memorabilia, as well as maps and charts produced from his voyages.

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