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Biographical entry Etheridge, Robert (Junior) (1847 - 1920)

23 May 1847
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England
5 January 1920
Colo Vale, New South Wales, Australia
Museum curator and Palaeontologist


Robert Etheridge was a geologist who published prolifically on Australian palaeontology and ethnology and made a considerable contribution to Australian stratigraphy. After a brief period as Assistant Field Geologist with the Geological Society of Victoria, Etheridge returned to the United Kingdom in 1871 where for 13 years he was Assistant in the Geology Department of the British Museum (Natural History). Here he worked on Australian Palaeozoic fossils including material sent by Logan Jack from Queensland. Returning to Australia in 1887 Etheridge became Palaeontologist to both the Geological Survey of New South Wales and the Australian Museum. For nearly 25 years as Curator (later Director) of the Museum he enlarged the physical accommodation and the collections, established the Department of Ethnology, and instigated the Records of the Australian Museum. His publications included The geology and palaeontology of Queensland and New South Wales (1892) with Logan Jack, and The dendroglyps or 'carved trees' of New South Wales (1918), which included drawings showing carved tree designs. Etheridge was active in both the Royal and Linnean Societies of New South Wales. The Robert Etheridge Jr Medal was established in 2015 by the Australasian Association of Palaeontologists to recognise outstanding lifetime achievement in Australasia palaeontology.



1866 - 1869
Career position - Assistant field geologist, Geological Society of Victoria
1869 - 1871
Life event - Goldmining with colleague F. A. Murray
1873 - 1874
Career position - Palaeontologist, Geological Survey of Scotland
1874 - 1887
Career position - Assistant, Geology Department, British Museum (Natural History)
Life event - Returned to Australia
1887 - 1895
Career position - Palaeontologist, Geological Survey of New South Wales and Australian Museum
1895 - 1917
Career position - Curator, Australian Museum
Award - Clarke Medal, Royal Society of New South Wales
Award - Mueller Medal, Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science
1917 - 1919
Career position - Director, Australian Museum

Related Awards

Related Corporate Bodies

Archival resources

Geological Survey of South Australia

  • Robert (Jnr) Etheridge - Records, 1890 - 1908; Geological Survey of South Australia. Details

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

  • Robert (Jnr) Etheridge - Records, 1895 - 1904; Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection, State Library of New South Wales. Details

National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection

  • Henry Deane - Records, 1847 - 1933, MS 610; National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection. Details

Published resources

Encyclopedia of Australian Science Exhibitions


  • Basedow, Herbert; Rainbow, W.J.; Etheridge, R. & Musgrave, Anthony, Narrative of an expedition of exploration in north-western Australia (Adelaide: W.K. Thomase & Co., Printers, 1918), 295 pp. Details
  • Etheridge, Robert, The dendroglyphs or "carved trees" of New South Wales (Sydney: Department of Mines, 1918), 104 pp. Details
  • Wrigley, J. and Fagg, M., Eucalypts: A Celebration (Crows Nest Australia: Allen & Unwin, 2010), 344 pp. Details

Book Sections

  • Nairn, Bede; Serle, Geoffrey; Walsh, G. P., 'Etheridge, Robert, Junior (1846-1920), Palaeontologist and Museum Director' in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Bede Nairn and Geoffrey Serle, eds, vol. 8 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1981), pp. 436-437. Details

Journal Articles

  • Dun, W.S., 'Obituary Robert Etheridge, Junior Palaeontologist, 1887 - 1895, Curator 1895 - 1917; Director and Curator, 1917 - 1910', Records of the Australian Museum, 15 (1-10) (1927). Details
  • Etheridge, R., 'The Australian Museum. Fragments of its Early History', Records of the Australian Museum, xi, xii (1916), 67-79; 339-399. Details
  • Etheridge, R., 'Obituary Notice [Edward Pierson Ramsay]', Museum Records, 11 (1917), 204-17. Details


McCarthy, G.J. and Helen Cohn