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Biographical entry Gilbert, Lionel Arthur (1924 - 2015)


8 December 1924
Burwood, New South Wales, Australia
28 January 2015
Armidale, New South Wales, Australia
Science historian and Teacher


Lionel Gilbert was a leading historian of Australian botany. After service as a radar operator during WWII, Gilbert spent 15 years teaching in New South Wales primary schools. He was the appointed to the Armidale Teachers' College as head of the history department, where he established a museum of historic resources. Following his PhD studies into the history of botany in New South Wales (1811-1880) he went on to write a history of the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, biographies of eminent botanists Joseph maiden, Hermann Rupp and William Woolls, and many articles on botanical subjects. His interest in botanical history was matched by his dedication to the history of his local area, New England in New South Wales.



Award - Scholarship to Sydney teacher's College
Career position - Radar operator with RAAF
Career position - Teacher, Nabiac Central School
Career position - Deputy Headmaster, Wauchope Primary School
Career position - Headmaster, Rocky River Primary School, near Uralla
Career position - Research and Information Officer, Department of External Studies, University of New South Wales
Career position - Honorary Curator, Armidale City Council Folk Museum
Education - BA, University of New England
Career position - Lecturer and Curator, Museum of Education, Armidale Teachers' College
Education - PhD, University of New England
Award - Churchill Fellowship
Career position - Member, New South Wales State Archives Authority
Career position - Inaugural Director, Historical Resources Centre, Armidale College of Advanced Education
Award - Certificate of Merit, Museums Association of Australia
Life event - Retired
Career position - Honorary Research Associate, Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney
Award - Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM)
Award - Honorary Fellow, Royal Australian Historical Society
Award - Centenary Medal
Award - Fellow, Federation of Australian Historical Societies
Award - Honorary Doctor of Letters, University of New England

Related Corporate Bodies

Published resources


  • Gilbert, Lionel, William Woolls, 1814-1893: 'a Most Useful Colonist' (Canberra: Mulini Press, 1985), 138 pp. Details
  • Gilbert, Lionel, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney: a History 1816-1985 (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1986), 224 pp. Details
  • Gilbert, Lionel, The Orchid Man: the Life, Work and Memoirs of the Rev. H.M.R. Rupp (1872-1956) (Kenthurst (N.S.W.): Kangaroo Press, 1992), 248 pp. Details
  • Gilbert, Lionel, Mr McLeay's Elizabeth Bay Garden: Plants, Privilege and Power in Sydney's Early Scientific Community (Canberra: Mulini Press, 2000), 75 pp. Details
  • Gilbert, Lionel, The Little Giant: The Life and Work of Joseph Henry Maiden, 1859-1925 (Armidale, NSW: Kardoorair Press in association with the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens, 2001), 429 pp. Details

Book Sections

Journal Articles

  • Aitken, Richard, 'Lionel Gilbert: botanical historian extraordinaire', Australian Garden History, 24 (3) (2013), 17-9. Details
  • Briggs, Barbara, 'Vale Dr Lionel Gilbert OAM 2 December 1924 - 28 January 2015', Australasian Systematic Botany Society Newsletter, 161 (2015), 51-2. Details
  • Gilbert, L. A., 'The Bush and the Search for a Staple in New South Wales, 1788-1810', Records of the Australian Academy of Science, 1 (1) (1966), 6-17. Details
  • Gilbert, Lionel, 'Visit of an Early Naturalist to Victoria', Victorian Naturalist (1952), 175-178. Details
  • Gilbert, Lionel, 'From Joseph Banks to Joseph Maiden: Towards a Scientific Botanic Garden', Historical Records of Australian Science, 11 (3) (1997), 283-310. Details
  • Gilbert, Lionel A., 'Naturalist-Explorers of the Australian Coasts', Victorian Naturalist, 67 (July) (1950), 49-53, 77-80. Details
  • Gilbert, Lionel A., 'William Carron, Botanist and Explorer, 1821-1876', Royal Australian Historical Society, xlvii (5) (1961), 292-311. Details
  • Gilbert, Lionel A., 'Plants, politics and personalities in nineteenth-century New South Wales', Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, 56 (1) (1970), 15-35. Details
  • Gilbert, Lionel Arthur, 'Plants and Parsons in Nineteenth Century New South Wales', Historical Records of Australian Science, 5 (3) (1982), 17-32. Details



  • Gilbert, L. A., 'Botanical Investigation of New South Wales 1811-1880', PhD thesis, University of New England, 1971. Details

Helen Cohn