Guide to the Papers of Alex Brown

MS 9452, MS Acc07.128, MS Acc09.055

National Library of Australia

Collection Summary

Title
Papers of Alex Brown
Date Range
1955-1962
Collection Number
MS 9452, MS Acc07.128, MS Acc09.055
Extent
0.7 metres (5 boxes, 1 file, 2 volumes)
Language of Materials
English
Repository
National Library of Australia

Introduction

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.

Access

The collection is available for reference.

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Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions.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 Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.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 [class number, box number and series and/or file number]'.

Provenance

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

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.

Item Descriptions

Class MS 9452. Original consignment Show allonly 1

Comprises papers assembled by Alex Brown during his expeditions to Macquarie Island, 1956, Mawson Station, 1958, and Davis Station, 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 traverse south of Mawson Station, nest records and logs for research into snow petrels, 1958-1962. The collection also includes Davis Station and Platcha weather station radio logs, newspaper cuttings and photographs and slides of Macquarie Island and Antarctica, including expeditioners, wildlife and landscapes.

Contained in 5 boxes.

Series 1. Macquarie Island, 1955-1960 Show allonly 1

File 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. Show allonly 1
File 2. Biological catalogue of lichens and salt-water algae collected by Brown during 1956 for taxonomic research in Australia and the United States. Show allonly 1
File 3. Amateur radio log, Macquarie Island, 1956 (VK1DA) and amateur radio QSL cards Show allonly 1
File 4. Newspaper cuttings, 1955-1956 Show allonly 1
File 5. Photographs of wildlife, landscapes and expeditioners, 1955-1956 Show allonly 1
File 6. Colour slides, 1956 (15 slide boxes) Show allonly 1

Series 2. Mawson, 1957-1961 Show allonly 1

File 1. Binder containing newspaper clippings, photocopies of newsletters, reports, news sheets and other papers, 1958-1959 Show allonly 1

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.

File 2. Personal diary of the 'Summer Seismic Traverse', which extended 270 miles south of Mawson and lasted almost 4 months. Show allonly 1
File 3. Amateur radio QSL cards, 1958 Show allonly 1
File 4. Newspaper cuttings, 1957-1959 Show allonly 1
File 5. Photographs of expeditioners and snow petrel research, 1958-1959 Show allonly 1
File 6. Snow petrel field notes, Mawson, 1958-1959 by Alf Bolza and Alex Brown Show allonly 1
File 7. Snow petrel banding schedule and nest records, Mawson, 1958-1961 Show allonly 1

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

File 8. Colour slides, 1958 (18 slide boxes) Show allonly 1
File 9. 8mm films (10 reels), 1958 Show allonly 1

Series 3. Davis, 1958-1962 Show allonly 1

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

Class MS Acc07.128. Consignment added 2007 Show allonly 1

Comprises a small box containing 19 colour slides showing the wandering albatross and other wildlife.

Contained in 1 file.

Class MS Acc09.055. Consignment added 2009 Show allonly 1

Comprises two hardbound diaries: 1. Personal handwritten diary of biologist Kent Keith, entitled "A year on Macquarie Island, 1956"; 2. Extract from Alex Brown's "A voyage of discovery on the NV Valla Dan and a year at Mawson, 1958".

Contained in 2 volumes.

Container List

Series File 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