Donate online or phone the Development Office on 02 6262 1336 to make a donation. Donations over $2 are tax-deductible. 

Read about our Cook treasures from the Rex Nan Kivell collection on display in the Treasures Gallery in our Behind-the-scenes blog.

Captain James Cook, F.R.S. (179-?),

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.

detail from Account of the death of James Cook,

The National Library’s Cook collection

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.


Early published account of Cook's life and voyages

Why do we need your help?

The Library is committed to safeguarding its collections. But we want to do much more. We want future generations of researchers and visitors, wherever they are, to be able to learn from and appreciate these items that connect us to early British exploration of the Pacific.

With your support, our Cook Collection can be accessed by those who want to research, celebrate, question and understand Cook and his complex legacy. Together, we can help shed new light on Cook, the man and myth, during this important anniversary and beyond.  

How to donate

Your contribution will make a significant difference to the work we do.


Donate online or phone the Development Office on 02 6262 1336 to make a donation. Donations over $2 are tax-deductible. 

This appeal closes 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.