Captain’s log: The logbooks of HMB Endeavour, 1768–71

30 May 2020

Captain’s log: The logbooks of HMB Endeavour, 1768–71

Caption on bottom

This presentation by Louise Anemaat, Executive Director of Library and Information Services and Dixson Librarian, 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. 

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.