Mawson, Douglas, Sir, 1882-1958

Alternative names
Birth 1882-05-05
Death 1958-10-14

Biographical notes:

Sir Douglas Mawson (1882-1958) was an Antarctic explorer and geologist. Member, Shackleton's expedition, 1907. Leader, Australian Antarctic Expedition 1911-1914. Appointed Professor of Geology, Adelaide University, 1920. Leader, B.A.N.Z. Antarctic Research Expedition 1929-1931. Married 1914 Francisca Adriana (Paquita) Delprat (1891-1974), author of A Vision of Steel (1958) and Mawson of the Antarctic (1964).

From the description of Papers of Sir Douglas and Lady Paquita Mawson [manuscript]. (Libraries Australia). WorldCat record id: 225788375

Mawson, a polar explorer who contributed greatly to the scientific and geographic knowledge of the Antartic region claimed "King George V Land" for the sovereign during his third expedition, on Jan 5 1931. In 1976 the the Antarctic Division of the Department of Science removed the container from under a cairn of rocks and the proclamation was brought to the National Library of Australia for conservation.

From the description of Proclamation of Sovereignty of the Territory of King George V Land and its extensions ... ... [manuscript] / written by A. L. Kennedy and signed by Sir Douglas Mawson. 1931. (Libraries Australia). WorldCat record id: 225835810

Neighbour of Sir Douglas Mawson who owned the adjoining property in Wickham Hill, S.A.

From the description of Letters from Sir Douglas Mawson to H.L.C. Michelmore [manuscript]. 1929. (Libraries Australia). WorldCat record id: 225840586

A base was established at Macquarie Island for the Australasian Antarctic Expedition which, apart from its scientific work, was to serve as a radio relay station.

From the description of Papers [manuscript]. 1911-1931. (Libraries Australia). WorldCat record id: 225791425

Sir Douglas Mawson, Kt. cr. 1914; O.B.E., F.R.S., D.Sc., B.E., F.A.A. Antarctic explorer. He was Professor of Geology and Mineralogy at the University of Adelaide 1920-1952 and Emeritus professor from 1952. He was born May 5th 1882 in Bradford, Yorkshire and educated at the University of Sydney.

From the description of Log [manuscript]. (Libraries Australia). WorldCat record id: 225782368

Geologist, Antarctic explorer.

Lecturer in Mineralogy and Petrology at the University of Adelaide and Hon. Curator of Minerals at the South Australian Museum.

From the description of [Papers of Professor Sir Douglas Mawson]. 1887-1956. (Libraries Australia). WorldCat record id: 224041383

Douglas Mawson was born on 5 May 1882 in Bradford, England, emigrating to Australia with his parents as a boy. He read geology at the University of Sydney and in 1905, after accompanying a pioneer geological expedition to the New Hebrides, was appointed lecturer in mineralogy and petrology at Adelaide University. From there he joined the British Antarctic Expedition, 1907-1909 (leader Ernest Henry Shackleton). He was a member of the first party to climb Mount Erebus and also of the party of three, led by Professor Tannatt Edgeworth David, which was first to reach the South Magnetic Pole.

On return to Australia, he immediately began planning his own Australasian Antarctic Expedition, 1911-1914. This expedition discovered and explored King George V Land and Queen Mary Land, claiming them for the British Empire. Shore parties wintered at Cape Denison, Commonwealth Bay, and on the Shackleton Ice Shelf, and very extensive scientific investigations were conducted, both on the Antarctic mainland and at a third station on Macquarie Island.

On his return to Australia he was knighted, and awarded the Founder's Medal of the Royal Geographical Society. During the First World War he served in Europe, and then returned to Adelaide University, where in 1920 he was appointed professor of geology, a post he held until 1952. During the 1920s, he devoted his energies to the preparation and publication of the scientific reports of his Antarctic expedition and lobbied strongly for Australia's further involvement in Antarctic affairs. He organized and led the British, Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition, 1929-1931. Mac. Robertson Land was discovered, as also were the Banzare Coast and Princess Elizabeth Land, all from the air. The boundary between Australian and Norwegian interests was fixed and the regions, which were later to become the Australian Antarctic Territory were formally claimed, 42 percent of the continent's total area. He was active also in geological fieldwork in Australia. Mawson died on 14 October 1958 in Adelaide.

Published work The home of the blizzard, the story of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, 1911-1914 by Douglas Mawson, Wakefield Press, Kent Town, SA, Australia (1996) SPRI Library Shelf (7)91(08)[1911-1914 Mawson] Biographical work Douglas Mawson, the life of an explorer by Lincoln Hall, New Holland, Sydney (2000) SPRI Library Shelf 92[Mawson, D.] Mawson, a life by Philip Ayres, Miegunyah Press, Melbourne University Press (1999) SPRI Library Shelf 92[Mawson] Mawson's Antarctic diaries, edited by Fred Jacka and Eleanor Jacka, Unwin Hyman, London (1988) SPRI Library Shelf 92[Mawson]

From the guide to the Douglas Mawson collection, 1903-1948, (Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge)


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  • Geologists--Biography
  • Soils
  • Explorers--Correspondence
  • Explorers--Archives
  • Scientific expeditions
  • Geology, Stratigraphic--Cambrian
  • Geology--Research--History--Sources
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  • Macquarie Island (as recorded)
  • Australia--South Australia (as recorded)
  • Antarctica (as recorded)
  • Macquarie Island (Tas.) (as recorded)
  • Australia (as recorded)
  • Antarctica Discovery and exploration (as recorded)
  • Australia (as recorded)
  • Enderby Land (Antarctica) (as recorded)
  • Mac-Robertson Land (Antarctica) (as recorded)
  • Antarctica (as recorded)
  • Antarctica (as recorded)
  • Antarctica (as recorded)
  • Antarctica (as recorded)
  • Antarctica (as recorded)
  • Australia (as recorded)
  • Australia--Adelaide (S. Aust.) (as recorded)