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Biographical entry Spencer, Walter Baldwin (1860 - 1929)

CMG, KCMG, FRS

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    Spencer, Walter Baldwin Portrait
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Born
23 June 1860
Stretford, Lancashire, England
Died
14 July 1929
Navarin Island, Tierra del Fuego
Occupation
Biologist, Anthropologist and Art patron

Summary

(Sir) Walter Baldwin Spencer arrived in Australia in 1887 to take up the chair of Professor of Biology, University of Melbourne (1887-1919). He was Honorary Director of the National Museum of Victoria from 1899 and was President of the Royal Society of Victoria in 1904.

Details

An Oxford graduate (BA 1884) and Lincoln College Fellow (1886), (Sir) Walter Baldwin Spencer was appointed to the foundation chair of biology at the University of Melbourne in 1887 and in this position was an active administrator and teacher (retired as emeritus professor 1919). He was president of the Field Naturalists' Club of Victoria, 1891-93 and 1895-97, president of the Royal Society of Victoria in 1904, and a trustee of the National Gallery of Victoria from 1895. He was zoologist and photographer to the first major scientific expedition to central Australia (the 1894 Horn Expedition) and edited the reports of the expedition (considered "one of the most substantial contributions to 19th Century exploration and natural history in Australia"). Baldwin Spencer also participated in numerous other field trips to Central and Northern Australia throughout his career, working in fruitful collaboration with Francis Gillen. In 1899 he became honorary director of the Natural Museum of Victoria. As Director he was responsible for supervising the museum's transfer to the Swanston Street site and the development of the museum's ethnographic collection. He donated his personal collection to the museum in 1917, which Included movies, wax cylinders and photographic negatives. He resigned from the Directorship in 1928 in order to return to England. FRS 1900; CMG 1904; KCMG 1916. Publications include: The Native Tribes of Central Australia 1899; Guide to the Australian Ethnographical Collection 1901, 1922; The Northern Tribes of Central Australia 1904; Native Tribes of the Northern Territory of Australia 1914; The Arunta: a Study of a Stone Age People 1927; Wanderings in Wild Australia 1928.

Events

1900
Award - Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS)
1904
Award - Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George
1916
Award - Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG)
1917
Taxonomy event - Spencer was honoured by J.H. Maiden with the naming of Eucalyptus spencerana Maiden (1917)

Related Corporate Bodies

Archival resources

Adolph Basser Library, Australian Academy of Science

  • Australian Botanists - Biographies, MS 064; Adolph Basser Library, Australian Academy of Science. Details

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

  • Angus & Robertson - Records, 1824 - 1933, ML MSS 314; Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection, State Library of New South Wales. Details
  • Arthur Wilberforce Jose - Records, 1919 - 1925, A7273; Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection, State Library of New South Wales. Details
  • Baldwin Spencer - Records, 1880 - 1929, ML MSS 29; Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection, State Library of New South Wales. Details
  • Walter Baldwin Spencer - Records, 1899 - 1928, ML MSS 875; Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection, State Library of New South Wales. Details
  • Walter Baldwin Spencer - Records, 1918 - 1923; Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection, State Library of New South Wales. Details

Museum Victoria

  • Walter Baldwin Spencer - Records, 1899 - 1928; Museum Victoria. Details

National Herbarium, Melbourne

  • Walter Baldwin Spencer - Records, 1925; National Herbarium, Melbourne. Details

State Library of Victoria, Australian Manuscripts Collection

  • Walter Baldwin Spencer - Records, 1905 - 1911; State Library of Victoria, Australian Manuscripts Collection. Details

Published resources

Books

  • Mulvaney, D.J. and Calaby, J.H., So much that is new: Baldwin Spencer, 1860-1929, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1985, 492 pp. Details

Book Sections

  • Mulvaney, D. J., 'Spencer, Sir Walter Baldwin (1860-1929), University Scientist and Administrator, Anthropologist and Connnoisseur', in John Ritchie (ed.), Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 12, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1990, pp. 33-36. Also available at http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A120043b.htm. Details
  • Mulvaney, D. J., 'Sir Walter Baldwin Spencer, 1860-1929', in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2004. Details

Edited Books

  • Spencer's Scientific Correspondence with Sir J. G. Frazer and Others, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1932. Details
  • Marrett, R. R. and Penniman, T. K. (eds), Spencer's Last Journey...with a Memoir, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1931. Details
  • Morton, S.R. and Mulvaney, D.J. (eds), Exploring Central Australia: Society, the Environment and the 1894 Horn Expedition, Surrey Beatty & Sons, Sydney, 1996, 408 pp. Details
  • Mulvaney, John, Morphy, Howard and Petch, Alison (eds), 'My dear Spencer': the letters of F.J. Gillen to Baldwin Spencer, Hyland House, South Melbourne, 1997, 554 pp. Details

Journal Articles

  • Massola, A., 'Punta Arenas and Sir Baldwin Spencer's Grave', Victorian Naturalist, vol. 89, no. 2, 1972, pp. 54-56. Details
  • Spencer, W. B., 'Alfred William Howitt', Victorian Naturalist, vol. 24, 1908. Details

Online Resources

See also

Digital resources

Title
Spencer, Walter Baldwin Portrait
Type
Image

Details

McCarthy, G.J.