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Biographical entry Rainbow, William Joseph (1856 - 1919)

Yorkshire, England
21 November 1919
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Arachnologist and Entomologist


William Rainbow was Entomologist to the Australian Museum from 1895 to 1919. Much of his research at the Museum was on arachnids: he described about 200 species and was regarded as the leading Australian authority on spiders of Australia and the Pacific region. His A guide to the study of Australian butterflies (1907) remained the standard popular text for the next 25 years. Before joining the Museum he worked as a journalist in Sydney (1883-1895) and before that with the Wanganui Herald in New Zealand (c.1873 - 1883). Rainbow was founder and President of the Naturalist Society of New South Wales.



Life event - Migrated with his family to New Zealand
Life event - Migrated to New South Wales
1895 - 1919
Career position - Entomologist, Australian Museum

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Archival resources

Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection, State Library of New South Wales

  • William Joseph Rainbow - Records, 1905 - 1907; Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection, State Library of New South Wales. Details

Published resources


  • Musgrave, A., Bibliography of Australian Entomology, 1775-1930 (Sydney: Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales., 1932), 380 pp. Details

Journal Articles

  • Musgrave, A., 'William Joseph Rainbow, entomologist, 1895 to 1919 Records of the Australian Museum', Records of the Australian Museum, 13 (3) (1920), 87-92. Details


McCarthy, G.J. and Helen Cohn