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Biographical entry Burns, Alexander Noble (1899 - 1994)

20 June 1899
Ferntree Gully, Victoria, Australia
Currumbin, Queensland, Australia


Alex Burns was an entomologist who was one of the few resident collectors in Australia to make significant collections in the middle of the 20th century. He had a large personal collection, mostly butterflies, dating from the 1920s. His early career was in Queensland with the Commonwealth Prickly Pear Board and the Queensland Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations. In 1944 Burns was appointed Entomologist on a temporary basis (permanent from 1946) at the National Museum of Victoria, his first task being the rehabilitation of the collections. He was Assistant Director of the Museum from 1959 to 1964. Burns was noted as an excellent field collector, his specimens coming from all over Australia but principally from Victoria and Queensland. The Museum now holds his collection. The taxonomy of butterflies and cicadas was his main research interest. He was a prolific writer for scientific and naturalists' journals, and published 'Butterflies of Australia and New Guinea (1951) with Charles Barrett and Australian butterflies in colour (1969).



1916 - 1946
Career position - Member, Field Naturalists Club of Victoria
1922 - 1925
Career position - Entomologist, Commonwealth Prickly Pear Board
1925 - 1930
Career position - Entomologist, Queensland Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations
Education - BSc, University of Melbourne
1936 - 1941
Career position - Employed at the British Museum (Natural History) and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
1941 - 1944
Career position - Served with Australian Army Intelligence Corps
1944 - 1959
Career position - Entomologist, National Museum of Victoria
Education - MSc, University of Melbourne
1956 - 1994
Award - Honorary Member, Field Naturalists Club of Victoria
1959 - 1964
Career position - Assistant Director, National Museum of Victoria

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Published resources


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

Journal Articles

  • Houghton, Sheila, 'Alexander Noble Burns 1899 - 1994', Victorian Naturalist, 111 (6) (1994), 247. Details
  • Pescott, R. T. M., 'Retirement of Mr A. N. Burns', Victorian Naturalist, 81 (1964), 167-8. Details


McCarthy, G.J. and Helen Cohn