This eBook began its life in 2018 as a series of blog posts written for a general audience to provide interpretive context and background information on the Sir Charles Maurice Yonge Collection, which was launched in October of that year. At that time, this Collection had only recently become part of JCU Library’s Special Collections. The fascinating story surrounding the Great Barrier Reef Expedition of 1928-1929, released in staggered instalments via the JCU Library News blog, proved to be a popular series that attracted a large readership. Promoting this new Collection through the medium of blog posts attracted a worldwide audience.

The evidence for the true effectiveness of the series only became evident when one of the original expedition participants’ descendants (who lives in the UK) contacted me for advice on how to go about publishing a cache of original documents from the expedition. The documents, held privately in family hands (and which were now almost 90 years old) were diaries, compiled over a period of several months in 1929, and a series of letters to family, sent by Sidnie Manton – one of the women scientists on the expedition. This treasure trove of primary source material had hitherto never been seen by scholars/researchers of the expedition. The material seemed all the more remarkable because it contained documents written from the perspective of a woman working in the arena of scientific research at a time when men dominated the field. These documents are now available in book form in the 2020 publication: Sidnie Manton Letters and Diaries: Expedition to the Great Barrier Reef 1928 – 1929, edited and compiled by Elizabeth Clifford and Jeanie Clifford.

Trisha Fielding