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Biographical entry Twelvetrees, William Harper (1848 - 1919)

26 October 1848
Bedfordshire, United Kingdom
7 November 1919
Launceston, Tasmania, Australia


William Harper was a geologist who, after completing his training in Germany, worked for 20 years in mines in Russia and Asia Minor before migrating to Tasmania in 1891. In 1899 he was appointed to the joint positions of Government Geologist and Chief Inspector of Mines for the Geological Survey of Tasmania. He expanded the role of the Survey from inspection of mines to the long-term systematic study of Tasmania's mineral fields. In addition he introduced a training program for junior geologists and established the Survey's collections of rocks, minerals and fossils. Twelvetrees's publications included over 170 reports on Tasmanian geology, and numerous articles in Russian and German scientific journals and the transactions of the Royal Society of Tasmania. The Tasmanian Branch of the Geological Society of Australia awards the W. H. Twelvetrees Medal to recognise significant contributions to the geology of Tasmania.



1871 - 1880
Career position - Worked in copper mines in East Russia
1882 - 1890
Career position - Worked at Lidjessi silver-lead mines in Asia Minor
Life event - Migrated to Australia (Tasmania)
1896 - 1899
Career position - Geological Surveyor, Department Mines Tasmania
1899 - 1914
Career position - Chief Inspector of Mines, Geological Survey of Tasmania
1899 - 1919
Career position - Government Geologist, Geological Survey of Tasmania
Award - Clarke Medal, Royal Society of New South Wales

Related Awards

Published resources

Encyclopedia of Australian Science Exhibitions

Journal Articles

  • Bacon, C. A., 'A brief history of the Department of Mines - 1882 to 1996', Tasmanian Geological Survey record, 7 (1-18) (1996). Details
  • Twelvetrees, W.H. and Petterd, W.F., 'On the occurrence of limurite in Tasmania', Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania (1897), 1-6. Details


See also

  • Johns, R.K. ed., History and role of government geological surveys in Australia (Adelaide: South Australian Government Printer, 1976), 111 pp. Details
  • Schulze, Peter, 'North Mount Lyell disaster - a miscarriage of justice', in 16th Engineering Heritage Australia Conference: Conserving Our Heritage - Make a Difference! (Barton, Australian Capital Territory: Engineers Australia, 2011), pp. 203-216.,;dn=895831287109964;res=IELENG. Details

Annette Alafaci and Helen Cohn