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The logbooks of HMB Endeavour, 1768–71
The voyage of James Cook in the Endeavour was the first European voyage of exploration to include scientific discovery as a major objective — the observation of the transit of Venus in Tahiti, the study of botany and of animal life, and the mapping and surveying of the Pacific, specifically the ongoing search for the Great South Land.
After the Endeavour returned to England in 1771, there was a great deal of public interest in the voyage. The published account of the voyage, based on the logbook kept by Cook, quickly became part of the rarefied world of scholarship while the voyage was also enshrined in popular culture and imagination.
But few people realise there are four versions of Cook’s log, all written on board the Endeavour. This presentation will briefly consider the context of the Endeavour voyage, the daily logbook written in Cook’s hand, and the three official copies, including one held by the State Library of NSW — why they were kept and who wrote them. Alongside the voyage, the logbooks also have a history and stories of their own.
Louise Anemaat is the Executive Director of Library and Information Services and Dixson Librarian at the Library.
Louise has published and lectured widely on the Library’s collections, and has worked closely with the acquisition, processing and curation of the manuscript and pictures collections over many years. She is the author of Natural Curiosity. Unseen art of the First Fleet (NewSouth Publishing, 2014), an analysis of the traditions of natural history art production in Australia and Britain during the 18th and 19th centuries.