By Danielle Czerkaszyn, Librarian and Archivist
The Museum is currently leading a major fundraising campaign to purchase, catalogue, conserve, and digitise an important collection of archive material related to the geologist William Buckland (1784-1856).
Buckland was an English theologian and one of the greatest geologists of his day, becoming Oxford University’s first Reader in Geology in 1818. When he died in 1856, papers related to his teaching and research, as well as around 4000 specimens, were given to the University. These were later transferred to the Museum when it opened in 1860, and the Buckland collection remains one of the greatest research resources in our collections.
Left: A bust of William Buckland in the Museum of Natural History. Right: A portrait of the young Buckland.
The Museum has recently been offered a unique opportunity to acquire another extremely important collection of archive material related to Buckland. Passed by descent to the current owners, this archive consists of just over 1000 items of correspondence, geological notes, works of art, and other family papers — including a substantial number of items relating to his wife Mary (née Morland) and their eldest son, the naturalist and author Francis (Frank) Buckland.
This ‘new’ material fits beautifully with the existing Buckland archive here, providing missing pieces of the jigsaw and helping to paint a more comprehensive picture of this extraordinary geological pioneer, and the work he did together with Mary. It also offers greater insight into the scientific thinking and institutions of early 19th-century England, and the scientific contributions made by other ‘invisible technicians’ such as quarrymen, collectors, preparators, and replicators, giving us a more accurate, balanced, and inclusive picture of natural history at the time.
The campaign is aiming to raise £557,000 to acquire, conserve, rehouse, and digitise the Buckland archive. We have been fortunate to secure funding from a range of funders towards our goal, and we are now within £75,000 of this target.
The Museum is the obvious home for the ‘new’ archive, given Buckland’s close connection to Oxford University, and our holdings of his specimens and archive. With your help, we will reunite these two archive collections in one place and ensure researchers and the public can utilise these scientifically, historically, and culturally important resources for years to come.
Learn more about the Buckland Papers Appeal
Donate to the Buckland Papers Appeal
Header image: Silhouette of William Buckland and Mary Buckland