There are 15,000 books in our collection on the first floor. These are located next the Southward Reading Room so find your favourite and make yourself comfortable! This collection includes marine natural history, exploration, climate change, analytical techniques and ID guides. Easy to follow shelf ends and a computer to browse the collection makes it easy to find what you are looking for. If we do not have it, we welcome book suggestions for complementary additions to our stock or alternatively we can request items as an Inter-Library Loan.
The NMBL also holds a unique collection of rare books including first editions and signed copies dating back to 1714. These are housed in climate monitored bookstoreand are available to be viewed only with a member of library staff. A complete listing can all be found on our online catalogue.
We have a number of personal collections belonging to early prominent marine scientists at the MBA including E. T. Browne, Marie Lebour, George Parker Bidder, John Young and Ray Lankester.
The NMBL holds 147 expedition report series including the Challenger Reports, Beagle voyage and Prince Albert of Monaco investigating deep-sea, offshore, coastal and terrestrial environments, and in a variety of languages. These are available to be viewed only with a member of library staff.
We have over 4,500 print journal titles, including complete original runs of Nature from 1869, housed across all three floors of the library. Our own classification system can be difficult to navigate but expert staff are always on hand to help you find what you need.
Please note that we also have some material stored offsite therefore some items may not be available immediately (the online catalogue will indicate if this is the case). If you believe this is the case, please contact the library prior to your visit so we can ensure everything you require is accessible for your visit.
Members have onsite access to thousands of the library's e-journal titles. Please check with a librarian for your access permissions as a MBA member or member of staff (staff can access remotely by following these log in instructions). A complete list of electronic titles that we subscribe to can be found here, or use the search bar opposite.
If you cannot find what you are looking for, we can request specific papers through Inter-Library Loan. Please note there is an additional charge for this service for members.
The material in the Archives Collection reflects the history not only of the MBA, but also the origins and early history of British marine science. The collection includes: documents and records relating to the early history and development of the Association and its Laboratory, the research programmes, staff, visiting workers and membership, the buildings, ships, library, aquarium, journal, finance and administration, personal and scientific papers, letters, notebooks and documents, illustration and photographs.
For any enquiries, please contact email@example.com.
1892-1938 Manuscripts, notes, letters and notebooks [PAL1]
1909-1920 Manuscripts, letters, reports, cards, charts [PBD1]
Correspondence with Treasury, with E.J. Allen and with S. W. Kemp;
Khedive/Huxley research vessel;
Ray Lankester Fund;
MBA physiological research;
Association of British Fisheries;
Formation of the Company of Biologists;
Bottom drifters experiment
1901-1946 Letters, notes, leaflets [PBD2]
Summary: Mainly relating to MBA activities. Envelopes for 1901-1906; 1907-1946; and material with dates not identified.
1905 6 letters, with envelopes [PBD3]
Summary: Relating to the hire of the Huxley and the International Fishery Investigations.
1904-1941 Letters and notes [PBD4]
Summary: Envelopes for 1904; 1905-1906; 1907-1919; 1920-1941.
1939-1942 44 letters and reports [PBD5]
Summary: Relating to MBA matters, including war damage to the Laboratory.
1902-1910 Letters, accounts, insurance documents, plans [PBD6]
Note: The vessel Khedive was chartered from G.P. Bidder in 1902 for the International Fishery Investigations. Renamed Huxley she was purchased on mortgage by the MBA in 1907, and sold in 1910.
Additional material is in Ships Manager's papers (MS1.3).
1907-1950 Letters, legal documents, accounts, receipts [PBD7]
Note: The Fund was formed in 1910 to finance the 12-month appointments of Ray Lankester Investigators to carry out research at the Plymouth Laboratory. Bidder was a trustee from 1910 to 1950.
Additional material is in Director's Office papers.
Summary: Includes correspondence with the other trustees, with E. J. Allen, with Investigators, with bankers and solicitors. Folder (1907-1919); envelopes (1920-1929), (1930-1939), (1940-1950).
Physiological research at the Plymouth laboratory.
1919-1920 Letters and reports [PBD8]
Summary: Includes letters, proposals and financial considerations.
1919-1924 Letters, reports, brochures [PBD9]
Summary: Includes accounts, lists of subscribers, plans, brochures, and expressions of support from the King (1920) as Patron of the Association.
1926-1927 Letters, drafts, leaflets [PBD10]
Summary: Includes correspondence with E.J. Allen, and with Ashurst, Morris, Crisp and Co., solicitors, and drafts of the Memorandum and Articles of Association, 1927.
1943-1944 Letters and plans [PBD11]
1923-1924 Leaflets and reports [PBDI2]
Note: Bidder and the MBA were members; E.J. Allen was a Committee member. Council minutes, members list and first report (1923-1924) are in the library.
Additional material is in E. Ford papers (PFO1).
1923 -1925 Letters, leaflets, notes [PBD13]
Summary: Legal and financial considerations relating to the formation of the Company of Biologists, and concerning the Society for Experimental Biology and the (British) Journal of Experimental Biology. Many letters to and from F.A.E. Crew (editor of the Journal), and some to and from Julian Huxley and Lancelot Hogben.
1903-1914 Letters, notes, calculations, data, postcards [PBD14]
Note: Reported in Rapports et Proces-Verbaux des Reunions, CIESM, 4, B. 102-103, 1905, and 6, A, xxxv-xliii, 1906.
Summary: Includes maps and data relating to the use of the bottom drift bottles or "trailers" weighted to drift in bottom currents and released in the North Sea. with samples of cards returned. Typescript reports on bottom drifters (1909) and currents in the North Sea (1914). Includes parcel of 4 notebooks of
observations and calculations (c. 1912), and one of the original bottles, unopened, given by Anna Bidder in 1994.
191-? 37 mounted sheets, and 8 pages [PBD15]
Notes on G.E.R. Deacon's observations on salinity and oxygen content of the Antarctic Intermediate Current.
193-? Notes and calculations [PBD16]
Note: Relates to pp.224-225 of Deacon, G.E.R. A general account of the hydrology of the South Atlantic Ocean. Discovery Reports, 7, 171-238, 1933.
Summary: Comments, calculations and notes, with a letter from H. W. Harvey.
1885-1945 Reports and leaflets [PBD17]
Summary: Includes MBA Council notices. agendas and reports; Bye-laws; International Fishery Investigations reports; and the text of Bidder's speech as retiring President of the Association (July 1945).
1912-1945 Letters, photographs, typescripts, reprints, newspaper cuttings [PBD 18]
Summary: Includes letters, photographs, newspaper cuttings, caricature of Bidder by Malcolm Spooner and material donated by Anna Bidder (1994).
1892-1937 Letters, notebooks, reports, folders [PBR1]
Port Erin, Valencia and Plymouth notebooks (1892-1898);
Drawings and descriptions of Medusae.
Letters to E.T. Browne. Most of the letters are sorted into envelopes according to writer. There is a catalogue of letters (1892-1903).
A further package, mainly relating to Browne's estate, is in Director's Office papers (MD5)
1892-1898 8 notebooks [PBR1.1]
Summary: Port Erin (1892), (1893), (1894), (1896); Plymouth (1893-1895), (1897), (1898); Valencia (1895).
19-? - 1931 Drawings and notes on loose sheets [PBR1.2]
1903 42 sheets [PBR1.3]
Summary: Alphabetical lists (1892-1896), (1897-1898), (1899), (1900), (1901), (1902), (1903).
Summary: Letters to and from 130 correspondents, mainly on Medusae, but also on research activities, expeditions, meetings, publications, photography, mutual acquaintances and social matters.
1939-1972 Scientific manuscripts, letters, data and reports [PCP1]
1900-1936 Letters, reports, data, notebooks, photographs [PCR1]
Includes Plymouth fauna records (1904-1908);
English Channel Investigations (1906);
Plankton experiments (1912-1913);
"Scotia" investigations (1913-1914);
Sponge fishery investigations in Cyprus (1929) and the British West Indies (1919-1934),
Correspondence, accounts, and photographs;
Scientific notebooks and diaries.
1893-1943 39 notebooks, documents and photographs [PCR10]
Summary: Scientific observations, records, memoranda, diaries, some with loose papers and photographs.
Scientific work, mainly at the Marine Biological Association.
1900-1914 Records, notes, letters [PCR2]
Summary: Includes scientific notes (1900-1903); Plymouth fauna records (1904-1908); English Channel rocks and bottom samples investigations (1906); Salmon rearing experiment (1906-1908); notes on English Channel deeper-water fauna (1912); experiments on keeping plankton animals (1912-1913); "Scotia" investigations (1913-1914).
Scientific and personal notes.
1919-1939 Notebooks, records, letters, documents and photographs [PCR5]
British West Indies sponge fishery investigations.
1919-1935 Letters, reports, records [PCR8]
Summary: Mainly Bahamas and British Honduras. Includes proposals, accounts, reports, data, and general correspondence. Correspondence with Colonial Office and Colonial Secretary, Bahamas, includes copies of letters from Winston Churchill, Secretary of State for the Colonies, to the Administrator, Bahamas, concerning Crawshay's work and his expenses.
Summary: Collected while he was mainly in the West Indies.
Cyprus sponge fishery.
1929-1930 Letters, notes and report [PCR9]
Summary: Crawshay visited Cyprus in 1929 to investigate the sponge fishery and to prepare a report for the Governor of Cyprus.
1935-? Typescript, notes and photographs [PCR3]
1935-1939 Letters [PCR6]
Summary: Correspondence while based in Plymouth, following his return from the West Indies.
Disposal and sale of L.R. Crawshay's library.
1944-1945 Letters and booklists [PCR 7]
1924 Letters, reports and photographs [PFO1 ]
Correspondence with J. Stanley Gardiner relating to the Association of British Fisheries.
Note: Additional material on the Association is in G.P. Bidder papers (PBD12).
1909-1931 Letters, papers, press cuttings [PHR1]
Material on Cope, Scotia, Stackhouse and Shackleton Antarctic Expeditions;
Material on proposed new Challenger Expedition;
1943-1945 Letters and press cuttings [PKE1]
1884 -1888 Letters and reports [MB2.1]
Letters from Anton Dohrn, Alexander Agassiz, John Murray, and from Marlborough House confirming that the Prince of Wales would be Patron.
Appeals for funds, and responses from Government bodies, City companies, and individuals;
Letters of support; memoranda and reports prepared for the MBA Council;
Evidence to Royal Commission on Trawling;
Correspondence with Home Office, Board of Trade, Scottish Fishery Board, Marine Fisheries Society, and Agent General for New Zealand.
1940-1957 Album, letters, notes, watercolours [PLE1]
Volume of drawings, photographs and notes by MBA staff, members and colleagues, presented on her 80th birthday;
Documents relating to the collection and the arrangements for the presentation;
Watercolour sketches of fish, most of them probably done in Bermuda.
1921-1984 Letters, laboratory notebooks, drawings, photographs [PRU1]
Plankton, ICES, tunny, young fish, Medusae correspondence, drawings and notes;
Fish data and drawings;
The Seas (book with C.M. Yonge);
Royal Society Defence Services Research Facilities Committee papers;
Correspondence relating to George Parker Bidder;
Obituary material including his memorial service, July 1984.
Generally excludes material related to MBA administration. Additional relevant material is in Director's Office documents.
1921-1971 4 MBA Naturalists Log Books; 23 hardback notebooks; 32 softback
Summary: Notes, records and some drawings, relating to fish, young fish, eggs, larvae, plankton. Mainly Plymouth waters and Great Barrier Reef Expedition (1928-1929).
1927-1984 Letters and cards [PRU3]
Note: Excludes MBA Director's Office correspondence.
Summary: Letters to and from 50 correspondents, mainly relating to scientific matters, with envelope of 1980's documents which includes MBA centenary material.
1925-1931 Letters and notes [PRU4]
1935-1936 Letters and reports [PRU5]
Note: F.S. Russell attended meetings of the Committee and was later Chairman.
1936-1957 Letters and drafts [PRU6]
1945-1949 Letters and reports [PRU7]
Summary: Mainly concerning the activities of the ICES Plankton Committee (Russell was Chairman 1947-1949). Also the International Mixed Commission on Oceanography, and the International Association for Physical Oceanography.
1934-1937 Letters, cuttings and photographs [PRU8]
Summary: Mainly concerning the North Sea and the South West. with material relating to Colonel E.T. Peel, President of the British Tunny Club, and his boat the St. George.
1937-1939 Notes and records [PRU9]
197-? Data sheets and notes [PRU10]
1931-1980 Letters [PRU11]
Summary: Letters to and from 102 correspondents, including many from E.T Browne, P.L. Kramp and W.J. Rees. One file of correspondence with Cambridge University Press includes a 1971 letter regretting the loss of his originals for the coloured plates of his book The Medusae of the British Isles Vol. 2.
193-?-197-? Notes, drawings, photographs, proofs [PRU12]
Summary: Includes material relating to his publications, particularly The Medusae of the British Isles (2 volumes, Cambridge University Press. Vol. 1 -1953 and Vol. 2 -1970).
1941-1984 Letters and notes, and annotated copy of The Seas [PRU13]
Summary: Letters to and from the publisher Frederick Warne; letters to and from C.M. Yonge, and others. The annotated copy is of the 1944 reprint of the 2nd edition.
1955-1961 Letters and notes [PRU15]
Summary: Includes an application from Hans Hass for help in the Maldive Islands.
1945-1954 Letters, notes and cuttings [PRU16]
Summary: Includes letters from Bidder and R. Dohrn (Naples), with obituary material.
192-? - 196-? 2 volumes [PRU17]
Summary: Cuttings related to the MBA and people and events of interest to Russell.
1984 Letters and cards [PRU18]
Summary: The service was held at St. Andrew's church, Plymouth on 31 July 1984.
1937-1981 Drawings, notes and journal proofs [PSM1]
Illustrations and Proofs for Scientific Papers
- Includes Asterias, Echinus and Littorina material.
- Additional material in Director's Office and Journal Editor's documents.
196- to 198-? 1 folder and 1 envelope [PWL1]
His own biographical notes
A copy of his Sea life in focus: 60 years of marine photography
Index of literature on polychaete larvae.
Other D.P. Wilson materials are in the photographic and Easter Class archives.
1888-1893 Letters, notebooks and reports [MD1]
Note: Directors were G.C. Bourne, 1888-1890; W.L. Calderwood, 1890-1892, and E.J. Bles, 1893-1894.
Summary: Includes Directors' reports to Council, material relating to scientific work, and fishery reports of W. Roach (MBA Fisherman).
Director's reports to Council.
1888-1893 Manuscript reports [MD 1.1]
Summary: Reports of G.C. Bourne (October 1888 to April 1890); G.H. Fowler (as Interim Director) (November 1890); W.L. Calderwood (January 1891-1893). Generally submitted monthly.
Early scientific work.
1889-1893 Letters, reports and record sheets [MD 1.2]
Summary: Includes oyster culture, with letter from Luis Falero and apparatus specification; letters regarding the establishment of a marine pond for fish hatchery in Plymouth Sound; Record sheets of MBA survey of North Sea fishing grounds (/892-1893); letters regarding Sheerness Moat, mainly from W.H. Shrubsole; letters regarding the MBA trawling in Whitsand Bay; quotation from James White, Contractors to the Admiralty, for supply of So. machine.
William Roach's reports to the Director on the trawler fishery in the Plymouth area.
1889-1893 Letters, notebook and record sheets [MD1.3]
Note: William Roach was the MBA Fisherman.
1894-1919 Letters and reports [MD2]
Note: Directors were E.J. Bles, 1892-1894, and E.J. Allen, 1895-1936.
Summary: Includes memorandum prepared by F.B. Stead (189-?) for Devon Sea Fisheries Committee; report on fishery statistics (1896); reports of visits to Plymouth and Lowestoft laboratories (1906); documents on the transportation of young fish to New Zealand; report of visit to various net manufacturers in Bridport (1914); investigations for S.A. Walton on treatment of wood to prevent gribble attack (1917-1918).
F.B. Stead's Memorandum into the results of investigations into the contents of certain bays on the South coast of Devon.
189- ? Booklet [MD2.1]
Note: Assistant Naturalist 1894-1897.
Summary: Submitted for the information of the sub-committee of enquiry appointed by the Devon Sea Fisheries Committee.
Report on fishery statistics.
1896 3 booklets [MD2.2]
Note: Prepared for the MBA Council by the MBA Naturalists.
Summary: Includes confidential proof of the version of the report to be presented by the MBA Council to the Board of Trade. with suggestions for improving the adequacy and accuracy of fishery statistics.
S.S. Ariel: damage to MBA pipe in Plymouth Sound.
1896-1897 Letters [MD2.3]
Summary: S.S. Ariel was driven ashore causing damage to an MBA pipe. MBA claimed negligence; owners claimed that it was an Act of God.
Reports of the Committees of Inspection of the Plymouth and Lowestoft laboratories.
1906 2 leaflets [MD2.4]
Summary: The Plymouth committee consisted of H.R. Mill and G.C. Bourne; the Lowestoft committee was H.R. Mill, J.A. Travers, G.P. Bidder and E.J. Allen. One leaflet entitled "Work of the Lowestoft laboratory" reviews the history and current activities.
Transportation of young fish to New Zealand: E.J. Allen papers.
1909-1913 Letters and reports [MD2.5]
Summary: Report by A.E. Hefford (1909) on experiments on the effect of low temperatures on turbot; correspondence with T. Anderton, Curator of Portobello Fish Hatchery, and the New Zealand High Commissioner, regarding successful shipments of lobsters, crabs and turbot to New Zealand; herring also sent, but did not survive.
Visit to Bridport net manufacturers.
1914 4 manuscript sheets [MD2.6]
Summary: Lists small meshed nets manufacturers, with descriptions of their machinery and products.
Wood treatment tests for S.A. Walton: E.J. Allen correspondence.
1917-1918 Letters [MD2.7]
Note: 1 folder.
Summary: Correspondence and report concerning tests carried out regarding treatment of wood against crustacean borers (gribble).
1885-1965 Letters, reports and accounts [MD9]
Note: 1885-1929 in first box; 1930-1965 in second box.
Summary: Envelopes for 1885-1905, 1903-1905, 1903-1907 re International Fishery Investigations; files for 1903-1906, 1908-1910, 1911-1929, 1930-1936, 1936-1945, 1946-1956, 1956-1965.
Correspondence with Development Commission.
1910-1965 Letters, reports and accounts [MD 10]
Note: 1910-1948 in first box; 1949-1965 in second box.
Summary: Files for 1919-1920 (with some 1910-1911 material), 1921-1922, 1923, 1924-1925, 1925-1926, 1926-1927, 1927-1928, 1928-1929, 1929-1930, 1930-1931, 1931-1932, 1932-1933, 1933-1934, 1934-1935, 1935-1936, 1936-1937, 1937, 1937-1944, 1944-1948, 1949-1951, 1952-1954, 1954-1956, 1956-1958, 1958-1959, 1959-1960, 1961-1963, 1963-1965; envelope of memoranda (1955-1956), and parcel of memoranda (1962-1963).
Correspondence with Board (from 1920 Ministry) of Agriculture and Fisheries, from 1955 Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
1908-1965 Letters, reports and accounts [MD11]
Note: 1908-1929 in first box; 1930-1965 in second Summary: Files for 1908-1912, 1913-1914, 1915~1917, 1918-1919, 1920, 1921-J922, 1923, 1924-1925, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937-1945, 1946-1948, 1949-1953, 1953-1956, 1956-1961, 1961-1965.
Science and administration 1920-1929.
1919-1929 Letters and reports [MD3]
Note: Director was E.J.Allen. Note that grants, gifts and bequests and Development Fund material is also for later years.
Summary: Includes agreement with British Film Institute, Elstree (1922-24); papers of the Interdepartmental Conference on Fishery Investigations (1924); correspondence with the Dominion of New Zealand London Office regarding the appointment of a fishery expert (1924); MBA Council guarantee to Zoological Record (1924-1925); supply of seawater samples for Professor F. Haber, Berlin (1924-1925); documents and correspondence regarding fishery research in Newfoundland (1929); documents relating to grants, gifts and bequests (1920-1976); Development Fund memoranda and reports (1919-1939).
British Instructional Films: E.J. Allen correspondence.
1922-1924 Letters and agreement [MD3.1]
Summary: Correspondence and agreement with British Instructional Films Ltd, Elstree, regarding the production and sale of films on marine biology.
Interdepartmental Conference on Fishery Investigations: E.J. Allen papers.
1924 Letters and reports [MD3.2]
Note: Meeting held at MAFF, London on 12 August 1924.
Fishery expert for New Zealand: E.J. Allen papers.
1924 Letters and reports [MD3.3]
Summary: Correspondence with the Dominion of New Zealand London offices regarding selection and interview expenses for the appointment of a Fishery Expert for the New Zealand Marine Department. A.E. Hefford was appointed.
Zoological Record: E.J. Allen correspondence.
1924-1925 Letters and reports [MD3.4]
Summary: Correspondence with the Zoological Record Association relating to the MBA Council guaranteeing any deficit on Zoological Record, 1924 and following volumes, to a maximum of 5 guineas.
Seawater samples for Prof. F. Haber: E.J. Allen correspondence.
1924-1925 Letters [MD3.5]
Summary: Correspondence with Professor F. Haber of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institut fur Physikalische Chemie und Elektrochemie, Berlin, regarding the collection and supply of seawater samples.
Newfoundland fishery research: E.J. Allen correspondence.
1929 Letters and reports [MD3.6]
Summary: Correspondence with the Empire Marketing Board, London, with documents relating to the need for fishery research in Newfoundland
Documents relating to grants, gifts and bequests.
1920-1976 Letters and reports [MD3.7]
Note: Additional material is in Finance Office records.
Summary: Includes British Association grant (1920-1921); Fishmongers Company grants (1922-1928);Rockefeller Foundation grants (1930 and 1937-1946), and $30,000 grant (1954-1963); Royal Society grants (1920-1937); Florence Buchanan legacy (1936-1938); Albert R. T. Momber bequest (1933-1954); Mrs T.H. Riches' gift of books, microscopes and apparatus (1935-1936); Wellcome Trust grant for electron microscope (1964-1966).
British Association for the Advancement of Science grant.
1920-1921 Letters [MD3.8]
Summary: Grant of £200 to Special Fund
Royal Society grants.
1920-1937 Letters and reports [MD3.9]
Summary: Includes regular grants, miscellaneous small grants, and Gore Fund grants.
Florence Buchanan legacy.
1936-1938 Letters and reports [MD3.10]
Note: Dr Florence Buchanan (University College, London) was an MBA member.
Summary: The legacy of £150 for physiological apparatus was used towards the Constant Temperature Room, which was funded mainly by the Rockefeller Foundation. Allen and Kemp correspondence, with some letters from A. V. Hill.
Albert R.T. Momber bequest.
1933-1954 Letters and legal documents [MD3.11]
Note: Albert Reginald Theodore Momber died in 1911. The MBA was one of a number of institutions and societies to have a share in the residuary estate.
Summary: Allen, Kemp and Russell correspondence with solicitors. The MBA received approximately £1100 in 1953-1954.
Mrs T .H. Riches gift.
1934-1936 Letters [MD3.12]
Note: Thomas Henry Riches was a Founder Member of the MBA, and a visiting worker. He died in 1935.
Summary: E.J. Allen correspondence with Katherine A. Riches and with Professor P.A. Buxton, Honorary Secretary of the Freshwater Biological Association. Mrs Riches gave books and journals, microscopes and apparatus; similar gifts were made to the FBA.
Fishmongers Company grants.
1922-1928 Letters and forms. [MD3.13]
Summary: Grants to the MBA and Inland Revenue tax recovery documents.
Rockefeller Foundation grants.
1930-1963 Correspondence and financial documents [MD3.14]
Summary: Grants (1930 and 1937-1946), and $30,000 grant (1954-1963). Includes some letters from A. V. Hill.
Wellcome Trust grant for electron microscope.
1964-1966 Letters and accounts [MD3.15]
Summary: Grant of £17, 750 for purchase of an electron microscope; £1,229 being used towards laboratory conversion.
Development Fund memoranda and reports.
1919-1939 Letters and reports [MD3.20]
Summary: Treasury Development Fund, Advisory Committee on Fisheries Research, and Development Commission papers concerning financial support for the Plymouth Laboratory.
Newspaper reports of MBA interest.
1923-1984 3 parcels [MD3.21]
Summary: Collected mainly by Director, Director's Secretary, and D.P. Wilson.
1930-1949 Letters, files, reports [MD4]
Note: Directors were E.J. Allen to 1936; S. W. Kemp 1936-1945: F.S. Russell 1945-1965.
Summary: Includes Lists of documents in the safe (1921, 1925, 1936); Challenger Society correspondence with E.J. Allen and F.S. Russell (1928-1951); Admiralty Hydrographic Department (1930-31); Carnegie Trust (1930); Antifouling and corrosion (1931-51); Zostera (research mainly by T.G. Tutin) (1933-37); Teredo (1934-35); Bahamas sponge investigations (1935-36); Mackerel Investigations (1935-48); Oil pollution (N.K. Adam) (1936); Letters from Lord Moyne to S. W. Kemp regarding cruise by J.S. Colman on Lord Moyne's yacht (1937); Mrs Sexton's Gammarus work (1937) with letters from Julian Huxley; Cornwall Sea Fisheries Committee (1937-49); ICES (1938-42); Proposed Hong Kong fishery institute (1938-47); Indian fisheries (1939-48); Postcard to S. W. Kemp regarding the disappearance of Commander Carey from R.R.S. Discovery in 1933 (1939); Post-war Fisheries Regulation Committee (1940-41); Bermuda Biological Station (1940-46); Tests for British Celanese (1941-45); V.J. Chapman's survey of seaweeds of the British Isles (1942); Tests for Indian Jute Mills Association (1942); Proposed oceanographic expedition to SW British Isles (1943-47); Schueler plankton sampler (1946-47); F.R. Irvine's book on Gold Coast fisheries (1947); Advisory Committee on Foreign Seaweeds (Macrocystis) (1949-50); Correspondence from the 1940s, and memoranda on MBA post-war research programmes and requirements (1944-1949).
Carnegie United Kingdom Trust: unsuccessful application by E.J. Allen for funds : for the library.
1930 Letters [MD4.1]
Summary: Application for £1,000 for publications, at the time of the appeal for funds for the new library building.
Admiralty Hydrographic Department: E.J. Allen correspondence relating to the new ship "HMS Challenger".
1930-31 Letters [MD4.2]
Anti fouling and corrosion: E.J. Allen and F.S. Russell correspondence and reports on tests undertaken and advice provided by the MBA.
1931-1951 Letters [MD4.3]
Summary: Includes Birmabright Ltd (1931-32); LMS Railway (/932 and 1934); Iron and Steel Institute (1932-36); HMS Vernon (1934); GW Railway (/937); Devonport Dockyard (1932-51).
Zostera investigations: correspondence and reports.
1933-37 Letters and reports [MD4.4 ]
Note: Some additional material is in E.J. Browne's Zostera file.
Summary: T. Tutin was the investigator and financial records and his reports are included
Marine wood borers: E.J. Allen correspondence with DSIR Forest Products Research Laboratory.
1934-35 Letters and reports [MD4.5]
Summary: Includes proposals for research into Teredo and other marine wood borers to be carried out by the MBA.
Sponge fisheries in the Bahamas: E.J. Allen correspondence.
1935-36 Letters [MD4.6]
Summary: Correspondence with the Colonial Office, MAFF and others regarding the appointment of staff for sponge fisheries investigations in the Bahamas.
Oil pollution: E.J. Allen correspondence.
1936 Letters [MD4.7]
Summary: N.K. Adam of the Chemistry Department of University College, London, carried out an investigation of oil pollution causey by discharges from ships, at the request of the Royal Society.
Mackerel Investigations: correspondence and progress reports.
1936-48 Letters and reports [MD4.8]
Note: The MBA received a MAFF grant-in-aid for "directed" research.
Summary: Includes the appointment of the research assistant (Peter G. Corbin) in 1936, and correspondence with the ICES Mackerel Sub-Committee.
E.W. Sexton's Gammarus work: S.W. Kemp correspondence.
1937 Letters [MD4.9]
Summary: Letters mainly to and from Julian Huxley regarding the mistaken impression that Mrs Sexton was to discontinue her work on Gammarus.
Cornwall Sea Fisheries Committee: S.W. Kemp and F.S. Russell correspondence and reports.
1937-49 Letters and reports [MD4.10]
Note: Kemp, followed by Russell, were members of the Committee.
Summary: Includes committee reports and background papers.
International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES): S.W. Kemp correspondence.
1938-42 Letters and reports [MD4.11]
Summary: Includes letters and memoranda from A.C. Hardy and other scientists.
Hong Kong fisheries: S.W. Kemp and F.S. Russell correspondence.
1938-47 Letters [MD4.12]
Summary: Material relating to the establishment of a fisheries research station and aquarium. Includes letters to and from Hong Kong Civil Affairs Staff, London, Hong Kong Development Secretariat, Hong Kong, and Geoffrey Herklots, Secretary for Development, Hong Kong.
Marine Corrosion Sub-committee (Iron and Steel Industrial Research Council):reports and background papers.
1941-46 Letters and reports [MD4.14]
Note: A sub-committee of the Corrosion Committee of ISIRC.
Summary: Includes background papers by MBA staff (W.R.G. Atkins, H. W. Harvey and F.A. Stanbury).
Indian fisheries: S.W. Kemp and F.S. Russell correspondence regarding the development of Indian fisheries and fisheries research.
1939-45 Letter and reports [MD4.15]
Summary: Correspondence with British and Indian government and state offices, and individuals, with comments on various reports.
Interdepartmental Committee on the Post-war Regulation of Fisheries: S.W. Kemp correspondence and reports.
1940-41 Letters and reports [MD4.16]
Bermuda Biological Station for Research: S.W. Kemp and F.S. Russell correspondence.
1940-46 Letters and reports [MD4.17]
Note: Related material is in the papers of the Royal Society Browne Research Fund
Summary: Correspondence, reports and memoranda relating to the Bermuda Station and the deliberations of the Bermuda Committee of the Royal Society.
Seaweed Survey of the British Isles: S.W. Kemp correspondence relating to the survey undertaken by V.J. Chapman.
1941-42 Letters and reports [MD4.18]
Note: See also: papers of R.A. Richens (PR11); JMBA,26, 37-60, 1944 (Chapman, V.J.); and the book: Richens, R.H.; Fogg, G.E.; Lewin R.A. Strictly marginal. British Phycological Society, 1995 (BK.1/R).
Summary: Material relating to the Ministry of Supply contract for a seaweed survey, undertaken by V.J. Chapman with the assistance of G.E. Fogg, R.A. Lewin and R.H. Richens, mainly in relation to supplies for the production of calcium alginate by factories of Cefoil Ltd., of Oban.
British Celanese tests: S.W. Kemp correspondence.
1941-45 Letters and reports [MD4.19]
Summary: Seawater immersion and biological tests of fabrics, cords and ropes, for British Celanese Ltd., London.
Indian Jute Mills Association: S.W. Kemp correspondence.
1942 Letters [MD4.20]
Summary: Correspondence relating to tests carried out for the Sandbag Advisory Committee.
The fishes and fisheries of the Gold Coast, by F.R. Irvine: S.W. Kemp correspondence relating to the printing and publication of the book.
1942-45 Letters and proofs [MD4.21]
Note: Irvine, F.R. The fishes and fisheries of the Gold Coast. xiv, 352p. London: Crown Agents for the Colonies, for the Government of the Gold Coast, 1947 (Printed by Cambridge University Press) "Dedicated gratefully to the memory of the late Dr Stanley Kemp, F.R.S."
Proposed oceanographic expedition off south west Ireland: S.W. Kemp and F.S. Russell correspondence.
1943-47 Letters and reports [MD4.22]
Note: Related material IS in the Royal Society Browne Research Fund papers.
Summary: Includes memoranda and comments to F.S. Russell (as convenor) from N.A. Mackintosh, G.E.R. Deacon, R.B. Seymour Sewell, A.C. Hardy, and others.
Correspondence and memoranda on post-war research programmes and requirements.
1944-1949 Letters and reports [MD4.23]
Summary: Includes papers by S. W. Kemp; L.H.N. Cooper; F.E. Fritsch; H. W. Harvey; O.D. Hunt; M Knight; M V. Lebour; F.S. Russell; A. Sand; D.P. Wilson.
Plankton sampler from Fred Schueler: F.S. Russell correspondence.
1946-47 Letters [MD4.24]
Summary: The purchase and import of a plankton sampler from Waltham, Massachusetts, USA.
Weather ships in the North Atlantic: F.S. Russell correspondence.
1946-1951 Letters and reports [MD4.25]
Summary: Correspondence with Meteorological Office, British marine scientists, ICES Plankton and Hydrographical Committees regarding the use of Weather Ships for the collection of oceanographic and plankton data.
Advisory Council on Scientific Policy Committee on Foreign Seaweeds: F.S. Russell papers.
1949-50 Letters and reports [MD4.26]
Summary: Material relating particularly to concerns about the introduction of Macrocystis.
Letters from Lord Moyne to S.W. Kemp regarding cruise by J.S. Colman on Lord Moyne's yacht.
1937 Letters and telegrams [MD4.27]
Note: Lord Moyne was a former MBA President.
Challenger Society for the Promotion. of the Study of Oceanography: correspondence with E.J. Allen and F.S. Russell, and related documents.
1928-1955 Letters, meeting agendas and reports, circulars [MD4.28]
Note: Earlier material of a similar nature is in E.T. Browne papers. For Plymouth meetings 1954, 1961 and 1971 see MG3
Summary: Correspondence, with leaflets, reports and meetings documents.
Postcard to Dr Kemp from D.(?)E. Davies regarding the disappearance of Commander Carey from R.R.S. Discovery in 1933.
1939 Postcard [MD4.29]
Summary: From Harscombe, Shaugh Prior, addressed to Dr Kemp, Discovery Committee. Colonial Office, London, and referring to a previous letter regarding the Board of Trade Inquiry into the circumstances attending the disappearance of Commander Carey.
1940-1945 Folders and letters [MD4.30]
Note: Additional material is in the Library archives.
Summary: Includes war damage (1941), valuation of the library (1941); receipts and payments balance sheets (1941); removal of the library to Hawkmoor; Laboratory cars (1941-1944), and proposed hostel (1944-1945).
War damage, and letters of condolence.
1940-1941 Letters and reports [MD4.31] Receipts and payments balance sheets.
1941 Manuscript sheets [MD4.32]
Library valuation, 1941.
1940-1941 Letters and lists [MD4.33]
Note: Related material is in Library archives.
Summary: Valuation was undertaken by R.R. Trout of Store Street, London. Estimated value was £15,754.
Removal of the library to Hawkmoor House.
1941-1944 Letters and legal documents [MD4.34]
Note: Additional material is in Library archives.
Summary: For safety from potential bomb damage, the library's books and journals were removed to Hawkmoor House, Tavistock.
The Laboratory's cars in wartime.
1941-1946 Letters and forms [MD4.35]
Summary: Includes permits and issue of petrol coupons.
Proposed laboratory hostel.
1944-1946 Letters [MD4.36]
Summary: The possibility of purchasing property in St. James' Terrace or Athenaeum Street.
Lists of documents in the safe, and backfiled correspondence.
1921-1958 Loose-leaf book and 3 handwritten sheets [MD4.13]
Summary: Lists of leases, certificates, agreements, policies. List of papers in the deed box (1921); List of documents in safe (1925); List of documents in safe (1936). The loose-leaf book (1958) contains details of documents in the safes in the Director's office, with alphabetical lists of current and backfiled correspondence.
1937-1946 Letters and documents [MD5]
Summary: S. W. Kemp was an executor.
1950-1966 Correspondence and reports [MD6]
Summary: Includes Memoranda on the work of the Plymouth Laboratory (1946-1964); F.S. Russell file of notices, descriptive leaflets and memoranda (1945-1964); letters of thanks from visitors to F.S. Russell (1945-1966).
Memoranda on the work of the Plymouth Laboratory, 1946-1964.
1950-1964 Letters and reports [MD6.8]
Summary: Five-year reviews and forward looks; F.S. Russell memorandum on scientific policy (1955); reports on need for a fast launch, electron microscopes, radioactive substances research, R. V. Sarsia, the work of the research ships, seawater circulation, aquarium improvements, and the proposal for a Natural Resources (sic) Research Council.
Forms, notices, descriptive leaflets and memoranda.
1945-1964 Reports, leaflets, forms [MD6.9]
Note: F.S. Russell's file.
Summary: Includes Laboratory and Library regulations, meetings, social functions, microscopes, opening of the new aquarium (1959).
Letters of thanks from visitors to F .S. Russell.
1945-1966 Letters [MD6.7]
Summary: 351 letters, 1945-1959, in 2 envelopes; 189 letters, 1960-1966, in 1 envelope. Formal, informal and personal letters, with comments on research activities, people and institutions.
1965-1986 Letters and reports [MD8]
Note: Temporary repository until additional material is transferred. Not available for general consultation.
Summary: Includes material relating to NERC Visiting Groups 1976, 1982 and 1986; Inswork Point (Millbrook/Tamar) proposed generating station Public Inquiry (1970-1971).
Programme Review by NERC Visiting Group, December 1976.
1976-1977 Letters and reports [MD8.2]
Summary: Background papers, correspondence, report, and material concerning NERC Council meeting at the MBA (September 1977).
Programme Review by NERC Visiting Group, December 1982.
1982 1 box file and 1 parcel [MD8.3]
Summary: Background papers.
Programme Review by NERC Visiting Group, December 1986.
1986 2 volumes in 1 box file [MD8.4]
Summary: Background papers.
Inswork Point (Millbrook/ Tamar) proposed generating station Public Inquiry.
1970-1971 1 folder and 1 envelope [MD8.6]
Summary: MBA and IMER evidence submitted to the inquiry by Dr Molly Spooner, with background documents.
1937-1972 Letters and reports [MD12]
Summary: General correspondence, and committees attended by S. W. Kemp and F.S. Russell (1938-1949).
Royal Society committees: S.W. Kemp and F.S. Russell correspondence and reports.
1937-49 Letters and reports [MD12.1]
Note: Kemp and Russell were active members of several Royal Society committees.
Summary: Includes reports and background papers of Publications Committee (1938); Biological Expeditions Committee (1937-39); Naval and Airborne Research Committees (1944-48); and Browne Research Fund Committee (1947-49).
Royal Society Correspondence.
1938-1972 Letters, circulars and reports [MD12.2]
Summary: Files cover the years 1938-1956, 1956-1963 and 1964-1972. Includes grant applications.
1911-1990 Letters, financial statements and accounts, investment records [MD7]
Note: A trust fund to help support scientists wishing to work as visitors to Plymouth. Set up with the profits of the sale of the Huxley in 19/0, with a contribution from G.P. Bidder. Additional material for 1907-1950 in Bidder papers PDB7.
Summary: Includes letters to and from G.P. Bidder, James Gray, and others, with comments on investments and opinions on a range of MBA matters and personalities, together with Trust Deed, Deed of Variation (1948) and financial material from Coutts and others. Folders and envelopes cover 1911-1919, 1919, 19221934, 1942-1953, 1944-1950, 1953-1962, 1962-1974, 1974-1980; 1981-1987, 1988-1990.
A herbarium containing hundreds of species from around the world can be found on the ground floor of the library. To protect the pressed seaweeds inside, it is kept locked and in darkness. The collection is managed by Gerald Boalch. If you would like to learn more about the contents please take a look at the information below or if you require a tour on your visit, please contact us.
The marine algae constitutes the major partiy of the herbarium. The material was initially assembled by Dr Mary Parke in the 1940s from various collections at the MBA and from her own material. This has been added to steadily until the mid-1980s by various phycologists either working at, or visiting, the MBA. The earliest material in the collection is from the 1830s from a number of collectors but most of the material collected since 1950 has been added by Dr Mary Parke or Dr Gerald Boalch.
Originally the herbarium was planned as a collection of seaweeds of Southwest England with comparative material from other parts of the UK and neighbouring Europe. The collections range from the Channel Islands and the Isles of Scilly to the Shetlands. It is probably the most comprehensive collection of seaweeds of Southwest England and is an important resource for taxonomy, ecology and biodiversity. A number of the species represented in the herbarium cannot now be found at the sites from which they were originally collected.
All the specimens are mounted and have firmly attached labels, most of which are written in Indian ink. The labels give the name, locality, date of collection, collector, the name of the person who identified the material and, occasionally, information on the fertile state or other point of interest about the material. All the sheets of specimens of one species are kept together in a paper folder and all the species of one genus are enclosed in a cardboard folder. The folders are stored in systematic order based on the checklist published by Dr Parke. All the specimens are also recorded on a card index which is currently being digitized. There are over 3,300 specimens belonging to 386 species in this collection.
There is also a series of folders containing mounted specimens collected by Dr Boalch on various overseas visits. Some of these are quite large collections made on field trips associated with international meetings; in a number of cases the identification of the specimens has been checked by local phycologists. There are also several folders of other overseas collections donated by various visitors to the MBA. Again, all the specimens are labelled and they are recorded on separate cards in the card index.
There are several local collections which are bound up in books. These are: Algae Danmonienses by Mary Wyatt (236 specimens in 5 volumes), Agarum Fasciculi by John Cocks (2 copies; 178 specimens mainly from the Plymouth area), Plymouth Seaweeds by George Carter Bignell (85 specimens), 2 books of specimens, not named or dated and with no indication of location or collector, a book of pressed seaweeds from Torquay dated 1837, not all named and with no indication of collector, and a collection from the Sidmouth area all named and dated 1837 and collected by Miss Jackson. These are all recorded in the card index.
A few years ago we were presented with an amazing collection of seaweeds from the Inland Sea of Japan: The Marine Benthic Algae of the Seto Inland Sea, Japan (Vol. 1-6), from the Kobe University Research Center for Inland Seas. These are immaculately prepared and mounted and have printed labels. The sheets are loosely enclosed in plastic sleeves and are bound up in six hard cover volumes with gold lettering. The collection contains 189 specimens.
Specimen L172/20/1 Parmelia laevigata [now known as Hypotrachyna revolute], collected by A. Henssen on 26.8.1964 at Wistmans Wood, Dartmoor, identified by K. Alvin.
Specimen L112/32/1 Lecanora helicopis, collected and identified by K. Alvin on 4.5.1977 at Reny Rocks, Plymouth Sound.
The marine lichens are a collection made locally by Dr K. Alvin (author of The Observers Book of British Lichens) during a series of visits to the MBA in the 1970s. They are all carefully labelled and stored in small boxes with glass lids, which are further packed into lidded trays.
The terrestrial lichens are a collection made and identified by Professor Aino Henssen from Marburg University, Germany, author of an internationally recognised textbook on lichens. These are mainly from the Dartmoor area and were collected during a visit to the MBA in 1964. They are labelled and in small boxes or packets which are further stored in cardboard boxes. Please click here to consult the catalogue of lichens in the MBA Herbarium.
The MBA Herbarium, together with all the apparatus, mounting paper, drying sheets, etc… is housed in a set of specially-made cupboards stored on the groundfloor of the National Marine Biological Library. Very little conservation work is needed as the cupboards are built of veneered wood with the veneers attached using formaldehyde-resin glues which help to deter mites and fungi.
Over the past 160 years, dozens of people have contributed to the MBA Herbarium either by collecting or identifying specimens, or curating the collection. Some of these people were associated with the MBA through their work, others only in passing or over the duration of a visit.
Gerald T. Boalch
Gerald Boalch (1933- ) began his career in phycology as a 9-year-old schoolboy at Beer (Devon) where he collected Irish moss (a species of red seaweed called Chondrus crispus) for the war effort (Irish moss is a source of carrageenan, which could provide a suitable replacement for Japanese agar-agar necessary to grow penicillin). Following this introduction, Boalch’s interests in algae were encouraged while at school, and he began collating his first herbarium. He attended University College, London, where his B.Sc. project was on the seaweeds of Beer and was published in the Journal of the Marine Biological Association (JMBA 36(3)). His doctoral research was on Ectocarpus (a genus of brown algae) with G. E. Fogg. Boalch was the first to develop a method to successfully culture Ectocarpus. He obtained his Ph.D. in 1958 and published this work in two articles in JMBA in 1961 (JMBA 41(2)).
Boalch came to the MBA as a Research Fellow in 1958 and was appointed phycologist in 1962. He began working closely with Mary Parke, complementing his work on macroalgae with the study of phytoplankton. In particular, he conducted long-term monitoring, but also studied diatoms and dinoflagellates.
Boalch served as President of the British Phycological Society (1985-1986), of the International Phycological Society (1990-1991) and of the Devonshire Association (1996); for the latter, his presidential address was entitled “Some aspects of the history of the study of marine biology in Devon.” He has also served as editor of the British Phycological Journal, the Transactions of the Devonshire Association and Botanica Marina.
To this day, Gerald remains the foremost authority on the MBA Herbarium, having himself contributed some 500 specimens to it.
Lionel Ruttledge Crawshay
Lionel Ruttledge Crawshay (1868-1943) was a naturalist at MBA between 1905 and 1920, and acted as the Assistant Director from 1908 to 1910. He returned to the MBA briefly after World War One before taking charge of the of sponge fisheries investigations in the British West Indies from 1920 to 1934, and finally coming one last time to the MBA from 1935 to 1939.
Aino Marjatta Henssen
Aino Marjatta Henssen (1925-2001) was an eminent lichenologist; she donated to the MBA a collection of marine and terrestrial lichens which she collated when she visited the MBA in 1964.
Henssen was an eminent lichenologist, but her career in natural history began with the work on the physiology of Lemnaceae (duckweeds), obtaining a Ph.D. in 1953 from the University of Marburg. She then worked in Bonn (1953-54), Berlin (1954-56) and Helsinki (1956). Between 1957–61, she held a scholarship to study lichen under Rolf Santesson at the University of Uppsala, preparing a monograph on Lichinaceae. She returned to Marburg in 1963, first as curator for cryptogams (plants that reproduce by spores) at the Botanical Institute and, from 1970, as a professor at the university. In 1974, she collaborated with Hans Martin Jahns to produce a seminal textbook on lichens (Lichenes: Eine Einführung in die Flechtenkunde).
Her work addressed both anatomical and taxonomical issues relating to lichens, which she referred to as "the small black ones". She is said to have enjoyed collecting in the field, hammering specimens off stones and trees. Her own collection of lichens is said to have held more than 60 000 specimens by the time she retired in 1990. Her specimens at the MBA represent half of the lichens held in the MBA Herbarium, the other half of which were collected by Kenneth Alvin.
She retired in 1990, having collected more than 60 000 specimens of lichens from all over the world.
Irene Manton (1904-1988) was a botanist and cell biologist who mostly studied algae and ferns.
Manton began her schooling in London (Froebel Educational Institute and St Paul’s Girls School) before winning a scholarship to Cambridge in 1923. She attended Girton College where she studied botany and was awarded a first class degree in 1926. She then spent one year in Stockholm where she conducted work on the family Cruciferae (now called Brassicaceae). She would continue this work for one more year in Cambridge before moving to the University of Manchester in 1929 to take up an Assistant Lectureship. There, she continued her work on Cruciferae and then ferns of the genus Osmunda.
In 1946, Manton moved to the University of Leeds to accept the Chair of Botany. There, she would develop the use of microscopy for cytology, and especially to study the spiral structure of chromosomes. She first used a UV microscope until the university obtained an electron microscope which would enable her to observe fine structures. This led to many collaborations with scientists from all over the country, including Mary Parke at the MBA. Together, Manton and Parke would publish some fourteen papers discussing various aspects of the structure of marine flagellates [NMBL classmarks SE.I/GB.1and P.50; many available here]. Much of this work was achieved thanks to the Plymouth Culture Collection which provided many specimens for study.
Manton retired in 1966, at which point she continued work on nanoplankton which Parke had introduced her to: the electron microscope enabled Manton to differentiate various species based on being able to see clearly their three-dimensional structure for the first time.
Manton was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1961 and was awarded no less than five honorary doctorates from universities around the world. She died in 1988.
(Though not directly involved with collecting or identifying specimens in the MBA Herbarium, Irene Manton is included here for her work with Mary Parke and her overall influence on the field of botany.)
Mary Winifred Parke
Mary Parke (1908–1989) was an eminent marine botanist based at the MBA from 1947. Through she retired in 1987, she continued to carry out research and visit the Laboratory until just before her death in 1989.
Prior to coming to the MBA, she received a B.Sc. (Hons.) in Botany in 1929 and a Ph.D. in 1932, both from the University of Liverpool. Her doctoral thesis was entitled “The mesogloiaceae and associated families”.
Parke moved to the Marine Station in Port Erin, Isle of Man in 1930 where she was appointed ‘algologist’, but continued to work closely with her colleagues in Liverpool. Notably, she collaborated with Dr Margery Knight for many years. In 1931, they published Manx algae [NMBL classmark: BK.5/K] which would be the first of Parke’s many important contributions to phycological taxonomy. The book was a meticulous survey of seaweeds of the Isle of Man. Unfortunately, its publication coincided with that of Lily Newton’s Handbook of the British Seaweeds [NMBL classmark: BK.5/N] which was more generalist and wide-ranging, somewhat overshadowing Parke and Knight's book.
Following work started by J. H. Orton, then Director at the Marine Station, on the rearing of oysters, Parke began sampling plankton (which is the food of oysters) and discovered flagellates which would become her main topic of study for the next 40 years.
In 1941, Parke was seconded to the MBA where her first work was concerned with the growth and regeneration of the larger Phaeophyceae (brown algae). This work continued Parke’s collaboration with Dr Knight.
In 1947, Parke was given a permanent position as a botanist, cementing her position at the MBA and with Plymouth where she would remain until her death in 1989. In 1950, Parke and Knight published a seminal paper [NMBL classmark SE.I/GB.1] which recounted their wartime work on kelp and in which the authors described a systematic approach to measuring specimens. This was a novel way of working and an early example of quantitative study in biology.
Parke then continued her work on flagellates, especially Isochrysis galbana, which she isolated and named. She soon began working with culture collections which would become important for the development of scientific and commercial cultures. This work would be especially relevant to the establishment at the MBA of the Plymouth Culture Collection which continues to be an important scientific resource.
Parke's notes on the Culture Collection, 28 November 1956, from teh MBA Archive Collection PPA1.
In 1953, Parke published the original Check-List of Marine Algae. Subsequent revisions would be published in 1964, 1968 and 1976 (in collaboration with P. S. Dixon) [all under NMBL classmark SE.I/GB.1]. All remain seminal works in phycological taxonomy. It is on the 1964 edition of this checklist that Parke based the organisation of the MBA Herbarium. The MBA Herbarium is a resource of immense historical and scientific value, preserving more than 4000 specimens of algae from the British Isles, as well as taxonomic information. The herbarium contains more than 600 specimens which Parke either collected and/or identified herself.
Parke was well known for her excellent draughtsmanship, often illustrated with watercolour, and the utmost precision of her illustrations. She was especially meticulous when it came to preparing proofs for publications. Many of Parke’s original drawings are in her personal papers in the MBA Archive Collection. From the early 1950s, however, she began exploring the potential of the use of the electron microscope with Prof. Irene Manton, a botanist at the University of Leeds. Together, Manton and Parke observed marine flagellates and discovered new structures, contributing to the identification of three new genera and naming many new species.
In addition to carrying out her own research, Parke was always eager to help colleagues and students, and participate in the life of the Laboratory of the MBA. She perceived 11 o’clock coffee in the Common Room overlooking Plymouth Sound as an important opportunity for researchers to mingle and meet visitors.
Parke was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1972. In 1986, the University of Liverpool conferred upon her an Honorary Doctorate of Science, even though she had earned a D.Sc. in her own right in 1950.
Parke’s contributions to phycology remain highly relevant to scientists today, through her publications, the MBA Herbarium and the Plymouth Culture Collection. In addition, she is fondly remembered by scientists who had the pleasure of knowing her.
Alison Wilson (née Westbrook)
Marjorie Alison Westbrook (1903-1978; she mostly went by her middle name) was a botanist who did a lot of work on Plymouth flora. She studied botany at Westfield College, University of London (now Queen Mary, University of London) between 1921 and 1931, both as a student (earning a B.Sc. in 1924, and an M.Sc. in 1926) and a member of staff in the Botany Department. Her principal area of work was marine botany and she especially studied red algae; she obtained a Ph.D in 1934 on "Nuclear structure in the florideae".
In 1924, Westbrook first visited the MBA in Plymouth to study the reproduction of Rhodophyceae (see JMBA 14(4): 1070).There, she met Douglas Patrick Wilson, a zoologist, and the two married in 1931. From then on, she would spend the rest of her life in Plymouth, where she would continue her work on marine and terrestrial plants.
Wilson’s contribution to botany was not limited to the marine environment, and she soon became involved with the conservation of local flora. In particular, Wilson was instrumental saving the Plymouth pear (Pyrus cordata), and gathered information on the Plymouth strawberry (Fragaria vesca var. muricata) and the Plymouth or Hoe thistle (Carduus pycnocephalus). This aspect of Wilson's work was at the core of an exhibition at the University of St Mark and St John in April 2013.
Extract of letter from Lady Sayer of the Dartmoor Preservation Association to Alison Wilson, 1 December 1966 from the MBA Archive Collection PWN1. It reads: "Yes, I know some people think that ‘preservationists’ are selfish, but this is an odd way of looking at it! Our sights are set far ahead all the time, to the future when this poor little country if more grossly overcrowded than ever, and when space and wilderness and solitude are the rarest things on earth. Something of natural loveliness has got to be saved, as you say, for our unfortunate descendants."
Little is known of Mary Wyatt (1789-1871) in spite of her original contribution to phycology in the nineteenth century. For many years, Wyatt was the servant of Amelia Griffiths (1768-1858), a renowned phycologist based in Torquay. Probably through Griffiths, Wyatt got to know William Henry Harvey, another eminent phycologist, who encouraged her to prepare a book of pressed seaweeds. What resulted was the 4-volume (plus supplement) Algae Danmonienses, prepared between 1833 and 1841, and containing 236 specimens collected mostly in Devon. It is unknown how many copies of this book she made, but the volumes have served as a taxonomic landmark for many years.
The MBA Herbarium contains specimens which were collected and identified by someone recorded only as Aunt Mary. In March 2013, together with the help of the Société Jersiaise, the MBA tried to identify who Aunt Mary might have been. For the results of this investigation, please click contact us.
The MBA Object Collection comprises over 100 science related artefacts. They have all been used, some even designed and built, at the Marine Biological Association. The collection provides a fascinating insight into the advancement of marine biology during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and is on display in the library as well as the MBA Common Room.
Thanks to all our volunteers who have worked hard to clean, restore, repair and display these objects. Future exhibitions are currently being developed. If you have any information on the objects listed below (only a part of the collection), or would like to know more, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A coverslip used to focus a microscope's objective lens.
A scientific instrument used in meteorology to measure atmospheric pressure and help forecast the weather.
A simple weight measuring device.
An oceanographic instrument used to determine the conductivity, temperature, and depth of a particular part of the ocean.
A replica of the diving helmet used by the MBA scientists J. A. Kitching, T. T. Macon and H. C. Gilson in summer 1931 to assess the possiblity of studying the sublittoral (seashore) ecology at Plymouth.
This device was used to display (or project) opaque materials by shining bright light on to the subject from above.
Used to measure the movement (flow) of liquids.
A logarithmic calculator. Its fundamental principle is precisely the same as an ordinary Slide Rule, but it differs radically in mechanical construction.
An instrument that measures electrical potential (voltage) in a circuit.
One of only five in existence. This device was invented at Plymouth and used to examine the mechanical properties of dogfish hyoid muscles.
A device used by mariners to determine the distance between two ships.
This bell was used on the research vessel MBA Squilla which operated between 1973 and 2003.
A folding brass binocular microscope once owned by E. T. Browne.
An instrument that is used to measure the quantity of light reaching a microscope lens.
A mechanical linkage based on parallelograms so that the movement of one pencil or pen, in tracing an image, produces identical movements in a second pencil or pen.
These devices are used by surveyors to accurately determine the position of points and the distances and angles between them.
An instrument that projects microscope slides onto a white screen or wall.
An instrument for measuring the variations in resistivity along wires.
This device slices soft animal tissue for examination under a microscope.
This sledge was used on the British Antarctic Expedition (1910-1913) by the MBA biologist E. W. Nelson. It is currently on loan to Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery.
Twenty-nine drawers containing slide specimens of a variety of marine life.
A device used to measure the gravitational acceleration at the Earth's surface.
A type of sensitive ammeter: an instrument for detecting electric current.
Invented by Edward Weston in 1893, this device is used in laboratories to calibrate voltmeters.
Using MBA images
The MBA will not usually charge for permission to publish images for use in not-for-profit publications. Fees for using MBA images in any format in for-profit publications or broadcasts will be negotiated based on how you want to use them. Please contact us for further information email@example.com.
Reproduction of material from the NMBL or MBA Archive Collection
The NMBL is able to provide reproductions of certain material from the NMBL and MBA Archive Collection under certain conditions. Please be aware that the NMBL does not necessarily hold the copyright on the items held in its collections and that responsibility lies with the researcher to obtain the appropriate permissions and conform to the laws of fair dealings, moral rights, copyright and intellectual property rights. The researcher is also responsible for the payment of any additional fees that may be demanded by the holder of the copyright for reproduction and/or use of material held at the NMBL. All reproductions of material from the NMBL and MBA Archive Collection are non-exclusive.
For personal use and research
When the NMBL can provide reproductions of material held in its collections, a request must be made by the researcher to NMBL staff by filing in a copyright declaration (form available on request). You will not be able to make further copies of the reproductions provided. Reproduction charges on request.
Please note that the NMBL will not provide digital copies for personal use.
For publication and commercial purposes
The NMBL can provide, under certain conditions, digital copies of material from the MBA Archive Collection to be used for publication and commercial purposes. Charges are available on request. For more information, please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org.