(This appeal closed on 31 March 2017. Any donations received after this date will be directed towards The National Library of Australia Fund, which supports conservation and digisation of the Library’s collection. Donate online or phone the Development Office on 02 6262 1336 to make a donation. Donations over $2 are tax-deductible.)
James Cook’s Endeavour journal is perhaps the most famous item in the Library’s collection, the first manuscript to be acquired for the Library, purchased from a London auction in 1923 on the instructions of Prime Minister Stanley Bruce. In 2001 it became one of the first two Australian items to be inscribed on the UNESCO international register for the Memory of the World, with the Mabo Papers, also held by the National Library.
But the journal isn’t the end of the story. With the 250th anniversary of the first Endeavour voyage sailing into view in 2018-2020, the Library’s 2016 End of Year Appeal is raising funds to undertake essential preservation and selective digitisation of our extraordinary collection of material by and about Cook and his contemporaries to enable their access by future generations, around the world.
Aside from the Endeavour journal, handwritten by Cook, other notable first-hand accounts held by the Library were written by Cook’s clerks, Richard Orton and William Dawson, and James Burney, Second Lieutenant on the wide-ranging second voyage. There is a letterbook dating from the 1771-1778 voyages of the Resolution, and an account of the death of Cook, probably dictated by fellow shipman and eyewitness Burney. Other documents concerning the voyage are among the papers of Joseph Banks, including his angry letters to the Viceroy of Brazil in 1768 and the ‘Hints’ of the Lord Morton, the president of the Royal Society. Some of this rare material is available online, but not all.
There are maps, journals, pictures, and even a tea set believed to have been owned by his wife, Elizabeth. The Library holds hundreds of published accounts of Cook’s voyages, including numerous first editions of John Hawkesworth’s account of the first voyage, published in 1773. Many of these very early works are in a fragile state – too fragile to be accessed by researchers.
To learn more about Cook and the National Library of Australia’s Appeal, visit the National Library of Australia website.