Book on Australia’s 1884 tour of New Guinea donated to the ANU Library

12 March 2019

A book on the Australian Army’s 1884 tour of New Guinea has been donated to the ANU Library.

Narrative of the Expedition of the Australian Squadron to New Guinea by Commodore James E. Erskine is a beautifully composed album, containing both illustrations and photographs dating from the 1884 tour of the south coast of New Guinea.

Primarily intended as a visual record, the album is regarded as one of the first examples of Australian photo-journalism.

The book was kindly donated by the McAlpin family.

Douglas Ian McAlpin (1924-2014) was the first clerk of the Papua New Guinea Legislative Assembly. He joined the Australian Army and was sent to an allied air base in New Guinea in 1945. Douglas returned to Port Moresby in 1946, where he worked until 1962. He moved to Canberra with his wife Gweneth, working for ANU until the mid 1980s.

In 1984, Douglas was presented with an edition of this book while attending the official opening of the Papua New Guinea Parliament house. This book is a treasured family item, and the McAlpins continue to have a deep connection with PNG.

University Librarian Roxanne Missingham said ANU was honoured to receive a copy of the book.

“We were very grateful to be joined by the McAlpin family in March 2019, to celebrate their generous donation of the book to our collection,” she said.

“We acknowledge the legacy of Douglas Ian McAlpin and his lifelong passion for PNG, his service as an ANU employee and for leaving the university with one of his most treasured possessions.”

The book will be added to the Library’s Rare Book Collection in the RG Menzies Library.