The National Library holds a range of historical resources about weather and climate in its collection. They provide insight into historical weather patterns and events and changing approaches to meteorology over time.

The collection includes the personal papers of notable meteorologists, ships journals, travellers’ diaries and the official records of significant scientific and conservation bodies.

For example, we hold the Meteorological Observations made between 1822 and 1825 by New South Wales Governor, Sir Thomas Brisbane, who was responsible for establishing the Observatory at Parramatta, and the papers of colonial surveyor Phillip Parker King whose observations include information about the climate along the east coast of Australia in the early 1800s.

The National Library also holds documents relating to Louis and Rose de Freycinet who explored and made meteorological observations of the south and south-west coasts of Australia. Rose stowed away on her husband’s ship when it departed Toulon, France in 1817 and kept a journal throughout the expedition. The meteorological journal kept on board the Dolphin during Francis Thomas Gregory’s North West Australian Exploring Expedition in 1861 is housed in the National Library’s collection, as are the papers of Clara Elisabeth Heyer whose diary records descriptions of climate along the east coast of Australia from an expedition in the late 1890s.

Other notable historical resources in the Library’s collection include manuscripts relating to geographer and meteorologist Thomas Griffith Taylor; the published works of New South Wales government astronomer and meteorologist from 1870 to 1903, Henry Chamberlain Russell; the manuscript papers of Pietro Baracchi, government astronomer and meteorologist in Victoria from 1900 to 1915; and the manuscript papers and photographs of Frederick Rose, who served as the meteorologist on Groot Eylandt in the Northern Territory in 1938.

The National Library also holds papers relating to conservation from the Australian Conservation Foundation and material relating to the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science.

92 year old Miss Madge Wilson admires a painting of a country cottage gifted to her in 1973 in honour of her 50 years of service as a volunteer rainfall observer.
Australian Information Service, Miss Madge Wilson, The Steppes, Tasmania, 92 Years of Age Admires a Painting Presented to Her by the Bureau of Meteorology to Mark Her 50 Years Service as a Rainfall Observer, 1973,

Prominent meteorologists

The Australian Dictionary of Biography provides a list of some significant Australian meteorologists from the early 1830s to the mid 1970s.