The Lawrence Hargrave Journals

The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences

Danica Micallef, 2020

In July of 2020 Abergower Digital began working with the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences to digitise the Lawrence Hargrave journals. Hargrave was an Australian engineer, explorer, inventor and aeronautical pioneer, famous for inventing amongst many other things, the box kite, and for helping to develop the rotary engine, which powered many early flying machines until about 1920.


His journals are one of the most significant items in MAAS’s collection. They document Hargrave’s accounts of expeditions he was a part of, including an 1875 voyage from Sydney to the Torres Strait and then to Papua New Guinea, on board the Chevert. On board this ship was its owner, William Macleay a natural history collector and nephew of Colonial Secretary Alexander Macleay. The diary mentions encounters with native peoples (and sometimes makes note of vocabularies), collections of specimens and contains illustrations of native people and their houses.[1] 



The journals had already been unbound by MAAS’s conservators and each page stored in separate protective folders. This presented a particular challenge for our staff, but one which was met with confidence and skill. Working closely with MAAS’s conservation team Abergower created a digital replica of each page and insert, which will allow MAAS to potentially present a digital version of the complete journal as one book.


Oftentimes, in order to preserve such precious materials, steps must be taken in their storage which makes these items extremely difficult to access. Through digitisation, what was once separate pages spread out over hundreds of folders can be brought back together into one digital book, allowing for greater access from museum staff and the public, and the potential for new information to be gleaned from their pages. Abergower Digital is pleased to be able to assist in this process.