Guide to the Papers of Alex Brown

MS 9452

National Library of Australia

Date completed: June 2000
Last updated: October 2007

©2007 National Library of Australia. All rights reserved.

Collection Summary

Creator: Brown, D.A. (Duncan Alexander), 1925-
Title: Papers of Alex Brown
Date Range: 1955-1962
Collection Number: MS 9452
Extent: 70 cm (5 boxes)
Repository: National Library of Australia
Abstract: Correspondence, newsletters, a diary, radio logs, newspaper cuttings, photographs, colour slides and other papers relating to expeditions to Macquarie Island (1956), Mawson (1958) and Davis (1961) in Antarctica.


Scope and Content

The collection contains papers assembled by Alex Brown during his expeditions to Macquarie Island (1956), Mawson (1958) and Davis (1961) in Antarctica. The papers include personal messages sent to his family, official monthly newsletters, a catalogue of lichens and algae collected on Macquarie Island, a diary of a four month seismic traverse south of Mawson, nest records and logs for research into snow petrels (1958-1962), Davis and Platcha weather station radio logs, newspaper cuttings and photographs, and colour slides of Macquarie Island and Antarctica including expeditioners, wildlife and landscapes.


The collection is available for reference.


The papers were donated to the Library by Alex Brown in April 2000.

Copying and Publishing

Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions. For such material, written permission to publish must be obtained from the copyright holder(s). Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.

Preferred Citation

Items from this collection should be cited as '[Title or description of manuscript item], Papers of Alex Brown, National Library of Australia, MS 9452, [series and/or folder number]'.

Biographical Note

Duncan Alexander (Alex) Brown was born in Antwerp, Victoria on 6 June 1925. He completed his secondary education in 1941 and was still in training with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as a wireless air gunner when World War II ended in August 1945. In 1946 he attended a Radio Technician (Civil Aviation) course at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and obtained a First Class Commercial Operator's Certificate in 1948.

Brown was a member of the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions (ANARE) to Macquarie Island (1956), Mawson (1958) and Davis (1961). Although he worked primarily as a radio telegraphist, he assisted in biological work on Macquarie Island including the collection of botanical specimens. He also conducted independent research on the breeding biology of snow petrels at Mawson and Davis in 1958 and 1961, during which time he was official collector of biological specimens for the Victorian and Queensland museums. He was also the official postmaster on all three expeditions and surgical assistant at Mawson and Davis.

Brown also took part in the 1958 summer seismic traverse which extended 270 miles south of Mawson and lasted almost four months. The purpose of the traverse was to "investigate the ice cap - its surface altitude, its thickness, the depth and nature of the bedrock under the ice, the fabric of the ice and its accumulation rate" (See also Aurora, vol 8 no 3, March 1989, pp 15-17 and vol 8 no 4, June 1989, pp 19-20). Brown was awarded the Polar Medal for his contribution to the success of the 1958 Mawson expedition and had a land feature named after him - Brown Range. Brown Range is the southernmost and highest group of peaks in the Framnes Mountains south of Mawson.

After returning from his last expedition to Antarctica in 1962, Brown taught electronics at the Civil Aviation Technical Training College in Melbourne. In 1977 he became Principal of the College, a post he held until his retirement in 1985.

Brown was the author of Breeding biology of the snow petrel, Pagodroma nivea (Forster) (Melbourne : Antarctic Division, Dept. of External Affairs, 1966), co-author of The biology of the Vestfold Hills Antarctica (Melbourne: Antarctic Division, Dept. of Science, 1973) and assistant editor of the ANARE Club journal Aurora, 1990-2000.

Series List and Descriptions

Series 1 Macquarie Island, 1955-1960

Folder/Piece 1 Binder containing personal messages sent home (1956), February 1960 edition of Hardships, official monthly newsletters written by the Officer in Charge, January-November 1956 and cartoons by Brown depicting life on the Island.
Folder/Piece 2 Biological catalogue of lichens and salt-water algae collected by Brown during 1956 for taxonomic research in Australia and the United States.
Folder/Piece 3 Amateur radio log, Macquarie Island, 1956 (VK1DA) and amateur radio QSL cards
Folder/Piece 4 Newspaper cuttings, 1955-1956
Folder/Piece 5 Photographs of wildlife, landscapes and expeditioners, 1955-1956
Folder/Piece 6 Colour slides, 1956 (15 slide boxes)

Series 2 Mawson, 1957-1961

Folder/Piece 1 Binder containing newspaper clippings, photocopies of newsletters, reports, news sheets and other papers, 1958-1959

There are clippings of articles by Australian journalist Osmar White, who was on board the MV Thala Dan during the 1958 ANARE coastal exploration of the Australian Antarctic Territory; photocopies of official monthly newsletters (1958); progress reports by P.G. Law from aboard M.V. Thala Dan; station news sheets The Mawson Maize written by Bill Wilson; Russian Antarctic philatelic covers franked 'Mirny' (Russian Antarctic Station), 1958-1959; and official reports written by Brown on radio communications and equipment used on the seismic traverse.

Folder/Piece 2 Personal diary of the 'Summer Seismic Traverse', which extended 270 miles south of Mawson and lasted almost 4 months.
Folder/Piece 3 Amateur radio QSL cards, 1958
Folder/Piece 4 Newspaper cuttings, 1957-1959
Folder/Piece 5 Photographs of expeditioners and snow petrel research, 1958-1959
Folder/Piece 6 Snow petrel field notes, Mawson, 1958-1959 by Alf Bolza and Alex Brown
Folder/Piece 7 Snow petrel banding schedule and nest records, Mawson, 1958-1961

(See also snow petrel logs (1958-1959) in Series 3)

Folder/Piece 8 Colour slides, 1958 (18 slide boxes)
Folder/Piece 9 8mm films (10 reels), 1958

Series 3 Davis, 1958-1962

Folder/Piece 1 Snow petrel logs, Mawson (1958-1959) and Davis (1961)
Folder/Piece 2 Snow petrel log (part two), Davis, 1961
Folder/Piece 3 Snow petrel log (part three), Davis, 1961-1962
Folder/Piece 4 Snow petrel field notes, Davis and Platcha, 1961-1962
Folder/Piece 5 Snow petrel nest records, Davis, 1961-1962
Folder/Piece 6 Davis radio logs, 25 January-2 August 1961
Folder/Piece 7 Davis radio logs, 3 August-31 December 1961
Folder/Piece 8 Annual radio report, Davis, 1961
Folder/Piece 9 Radio log book for Platcha, a remote weather station in the Vestfold Hills, 1961
Folder/Piece 10 Issues of station news sheets Katabatic (Mawson, vol II, no. 2, February 1961) and Mukluk (Davis, 1 April 1961)
Folder/Piece 11 Amateur radio QSL cards, Davis, 1961
Folder/Piece 12 Photographs, 1959-1962, of wildlife, Davis radio room, Mawson, Vestfold Hills, Platcha hut region, snow petrels and nest sites, and Russian Antarctic photos from Mirny expeditioners.
Folder/Piece 13 Colour slides, 1961 (11 slide boxes)

Container List

Series Folder/Piece Box
1 1-5 1
1 6 5
2 1-2 1
2 3-7 2
2 8-9 5
3 1-6 3
3 7-12 4
3 13 5