Guide to the Photographs of William Blandowski (as filmed by the AJCP)



National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Created: 2018

Collection Summary

Blandowski, William
Photographs of William Blandowski (as filmed by the AJCP)
Date Range
Collection Number
142 items
Language of Materials
Australian Joint Copying Project
The Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) online portal was created with the assistance of the Australian Public Service Modernisation Fund, 2017-2020. The National Library of Australia gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the other foundation AJCP partners, the State Library of New South Wales and The National Archives of the UK, and all other organisations which supported the work of the AJCP, the world's most extensive collaborative copying project, operating from 1948 to 1997.


Scope and Contents

Album entitled Australien in 142 photographischen Abbildungen nach zehnjähringen Erfahrungen zusammengestellt von Wilhelm v. Blandowski Gleiwitz 1862. (24pp)

The album contains 142 miniature albumen prints, which are numbered and have captions in miniscule handwriting. Many of the illustrations are signed 'GM60' or 'GM61', referring to Gustav Mützel (1813-1893), a German artist who in 1860-61 reworked sketches that Blandowski brought back from Australia. Many also have plate numbers, which seem to refer to an encyclopaedia of Australian natural history, which Blandowski planned but did not complete. A few are signed 'Redaway', referring to the Melbourne printer James Redaway who produced etchings and engravings of Blandowski's drawings.

Most of the photographs in the album in the Haddon Library have brief manuscript captions, but some are indecipherable or incomplete. The only other surviving copy, in the Stadtsbibliothek in Berlin, is bound with a printed pamphlet containing much lengthier captions and also a postscript written in German. An English translation of the captions and the postscript can be found in Harry Allen, ed. Australia: William Blandowski's illustrated encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia, Canberra, Aboriginal Studies Press, 2010.

Titles are transcribed from original prints.

Conditions Governing Access

Available for Access.

Conditions Governing Use

Many of the records digitised as part of the AJCP are still in copyright. Readers wishing to publish or reproduce documents should seek permission, in the first instance, from the owner of the original material.

Preferred Citation

Acknowledgement of use of this material should refer to the location of the original material and to the Australian Joint Copying Project.

Items from this collection should include references to the location of the original material and to the AJCP nla.obj number, which serves as the online identifier for the digital copy.

Example: M Series: Journal of Capt. James Cook, 18 February 1770, British Library Add. MS 27885 (AJCP ref:

Archival History

Filmed as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project, 1979 (AJCP Reel: M853). Original microfilm digitised as part of the NLA AJCP Online Delivery Project, 2017-2020.

Existence and Location of Originals

Haddon Library, Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. Cambridge CB2 3DZ, England.

For further information see the Haddon Library (

Existence and Location of Copies

The original AJCP microfilm of the records filmed from this collection is available at the National Library of Australia [] as well as other institutions holding AJCP microfilm.

An English translation of the captions and the postscript can be found in Harry Allen, ed. Australia: William Blandowski's illustrated encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia, Canberra, Aboriginal Studies Press, 2010.

Finding-Aid Notes

This finding aid is a revised online version of the original finding aid prepared by the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP), published by the National Library of Australia in 2018. The original AJCP finding aids were unpublished typescripts or photocopies available from libraries that held copies of the original microfilm.

Dates used in this finding aid refer to the date range of the records selected for filming rather than to the date range of the Series or Files.

Advisory Note

Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this Finding Aid contains material and descriptive information which may be considered culturally sensitive and may cause distress, including names and images of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people now deceased. This Finding Aid contains terms that reflect authors' views or those of the historical period, but which may not be considered appropriate today. While the information may not reflect current understanding, it is provided in an historical context.


Blandowski, William; Indigenous Australians: photographs; Naturalists; Paintings, Drawings and Prints: Victoria; Zoologists


Originally cited in Australian Joint Copying Project Handbook. Part 8: Miscellaneous (M) Series. Third Edition, published 1998. Entry 40, p14.

Biographical / Historical

William Blandowski (1822-1878), the son of a Prussian military officer, was born in Gliwice, Upper Silesia. He served briefly in the Royal Prussian Cadets. He arrived in Australia in 1849 and travelled widely in New South Wales and South Australia. He took part in the early gold rushes and made a small fortune at the goldfields near Castlemaine. He was one of the founders of the Geological Society of Victoria in 1852 and in the following year he was attached to the field party of the government geologist. In 1854 he was the first officer appointed to the Museum of Natural History in Melbourne. As government zoologist, he made several excursions into rural areas and began compiling a checklist of the animals and birds of Victoria. In 1856-57 he led an expedition to investigate the natural history of the region at the junction of the Darling and Murray Rivers. Following his return to Melbourne, he submitted a report to the Philosophical Society of Victoria but never reported back for duty at the Museum. Accused of retaining specimens, drawings and journals for his own use, he left Australia in 1859 and sailed to Hamburg. He returned to Silesia and published some scientific papers on Australia.

The authorship of Australien in 142 Photographischen Abbildungen, published in 1862, is discussed by Harry Allen in an article in Australasian Historical Archaeology, vol. 24, 2006, pp 31-37. The cover page of the work identifies Blandowski as the author and the images are attributed either to Blandowski or Gustav Mützel. Blandowski was a competent artist and photographer, but the majority of sketches of Aboriginal life and natural history in the album were almost certainly the work of Gerard Krefft, who was his deputy on the 1857-57 expedition. Blandowski arranged the illustrations into groups, providing a narrative structure to the publication.

Item Descriptions

Series 1-142. Album of Photographs by William Blandowski, 1862

The album contains 142 miniature albumen prints.

Includes images of geological views of Victoria, Indigenous Australians, and birds and mammals of Australia.

For a more detailed list see the available supplementary material.