Correspondence of Ferdinand von Mueller Project

Project summary

Ferdinand von Mueller was one of Australia's best-known nineteenth-century scientists. He earned a considerable international reputation for his work in describing the Australian flora. Employed by the Victorian Government, he was Government Botanist (1853–1896) as well as Director of the Melbourne Botanic Gardens (1857–1873). Mueller's interests lay not just in botany, but also in fields as diverse as geology, exploration and acclimatisation. In the course of his career he corresponded with scientists in many countries.

The aim of the project is to find, edit and publish Mueller's body of correspondence. The examination of his correspondence has shed light on:

  • The scientific and corporate history of the National Herbarium of Victoria and the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria (previously Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne).
  • Aspects of the scientific and social life of the Australian colonies in the nineteenth century.
  • The development of our understanding of the Australian flora and the study of the natural environment.
  • Our early learned institutions and the place of science in colonial society.
  • The nature of Australian colonial administration.
  • The exploration of much of Australia.
  • The relationship of Australian scientists to the national and international scientific communities.

Since the project's inception in 1987, Professor Home has led an international team in the work of locating, translating, transcribing and editing the letters and providing explanatory footnotes. This has been a challenging project because Mueller's letter-copy books and much of his inwards correspondence have not survived. During the course of the project contact has been made with institutions across Australia and world-wide seeking copies of letters and other relevant documents.

So far over 10,000 letters have been located and included in the project's database. The secretariat for the project has been based at Melbourne Gardens from the beginning, with the result that the gardens is widely recognised as the centre for research on Mueller and aspects of the history of science in nineteenth-century Australia. The Melbourne-based team members, working with curation staff, have assisted in solving questions on collecting details and deciphering illegible handwriting. In consequence, the standard of information in our collections database has been improved. Future goals are a definitive biography of Mueller which, unlike previous biographies, will assess his scientific contributions, and the complete correspondence on CD and as a database hosted on the Gardens' web page.

Regardfully yours

Over 750 letters have been published in Regardfully yours: selected correspondence of Ferdinand von Mueller.

Home, R.W., Lucas, A.M., Maroske, S., Sinkora, D.M. and Voigt, J.H. (eds) (1998). Regardfully yours: selected correspondence of Ferdinand von Mueller, vol. 1: 1840–1859. Peter Lang, Bern.

Home, R.W., Lucas, A.M., Maroske, S., Sinkora, D.M. and Voigt, J.H. (eds) (2002). Regardfully yours: selected correspondence of Ferdinand von Mueller, vol. 2: 1860–1875. Peter Lang, Bern.

Home, R.W., Lucas, A.M., Maroske, S., Sinkora, D.M., Voigt, J.H. and Wells, M. (eds) (2006). Regardfully yours: selected correspondence of Ferdinand von Mueller, vol. 3: 1876–1896. Peter Lang, Bern.

Regardfully yours can be purchased at the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria's Gift Shop.

Project team

  • Rod Home (The University of Melbourne and Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria)
  • Sara Maroske (The University of Melbourne and Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria)
  • Helen Cohn (Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria)
  • Arthur Lucas (King's College London)
  • Thomas Darragh (Museum Victoria and Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria)
  • Monika Wells (Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria)
  • Johannes Voigt (Universität Stuttgart)

Recent publications

Darragh, Thomas A. and Lucas, A.M. (2015). Two states of fascicle 1 of Mueller’s Fragmenta phytographiae australiae, Archives of Natural History, 42: 301–307.

Home, R. W. (2015). Ferdinand Mueller and the Royal Society of Victoria. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria, 127: 105-109.

Maroske, S. and Dowe, J. (2015). German farm gardens in colonial South Australia. Australian Garden History, 26(4): 13-16.

Lucas, A.M. (2014). The difficult provenance of Ferdinand von Mueller’s zoological specimens. Archives of Natural History, 41: 294–308.

Maroske, S. (2014). “A taste for botanic science”: Ferdinand Mueller’s female plant collectors and the history of Australian botany. Muelleria, 32: 72–91.

Maroske, S. and Vaughan, A. (2014). Ferdinand Mueller’s female plant collectors: a biographical register. Muelleria, 32: 92–172.

Full publication list


Journal articles

Home, R. W. (2014). Ferdinand Mueller’s Alpine Itinerary. Historical Records of Australian Science, 25: 1-17.

Lucas, A.M. and Lucas, P.J. (2014), Natural history "collectors": exploring the ambiguities. Archives of Natural History, 41:63-74.

Lucas, A.M. (2013). Zoological eponyms honouring the botanist, Ferdinand von Mueller. Archives of Natural History, 40:263-269.

Lucas, A.M. (2013). Specimens and the currency of honour: the museum trade of Ferdinand von Mueller. Historical Records of Australian Science, 24: 15–39.

Maroske, S. (2012). Australian and Indian plants: making connexions in nineteenth century botany. Historical Records of Australian Science, 23(2): 107-119.

Home, R. W. (2012). La Trobe's 'Honest looking German': Ferdinand Mueller and the Botanical Exploration of Gold-rush Victoria. La Trobeana, 11(3): 9-16.

Lucas, A.M. (2010). Early copies of the first edition of Origin of species in Australia. Archives of Natural History, 37:346­–348.

Lucas, A.M. (2010) Ferdinand von Mueller’s interactions with Charles Darwin and his response to Darwinism. Archives of Natural History, 37:102–130. 

Home, R.W. (2008). Mueller, Ferdinand Jakob Heinrich von. In New dictionary of scientific biography, vol. 5, pp. 204–209. Thomson Gale, Detroit.

Lucas, A.M. (2008). Disposing of John Lindley's library and herbarium: the offer to Australia. Archives of Natural History, 35(1): 15–70.

Lucas, A.M. ( 2007). Mixing private and public: or, did the State pay twice for specimens in Herbarium Hookerianum? Archives of Natural History, 34(2): 357–359.

Maroske, S. (2007). Educational exsiccatae: Ferdinand von Mueller's botanical lessons in colonial Victoria. Collections 2, 37–47.

Maroske, S. (2007). Educational exsiccatae: Ferdinand von Mueller's botanical lessons in colonial Victoria. Collections 2, 37–47.

Home, R.W. (2006). Ferdinand von Mueller, botanist of honour. Australian Heritage Winter, 66–71.

Lucas, A.M., Maroske, S. and Brown-May, A. (2006). Bringing science to the public: Ferdinand von Mueller and botanical education in Victorian Victoria.Annals of science 63, 25–57.

Maroske, S. (2006). Ferdinand Mueller and the shape of nature: nineteenth‑century systems of plant classification. Historical Records of Australian Science 17, 147–168.

Home, R.W. (2006). Ferdinand von Mueller, botanist of honour. Australian Heritage Winter, 66–71.

Lucas, A.M., Maroske, S. and Brown-May, A. (2006). Bringing science to the public: Ferdinand von Mueller and botanical education in Victorian Victoria.Annals of science 63, 25–57.

Maroske, S. (2006). Ferdinand Mueller and the shape of nature: nineteenth-century systems of plant classification. Historical Records of Australian Science17, 147–168.

Darragh, T.A. (2004). Ferdinand Mueller and Charles La Trobe. La Trobeana2(2), 1–5.

Darragh, T.A. (2003). Bishop Goold and Ferdinand von Mueller: a 30 year acquaintance. Footprints: journal of the Melbourne Diocesan Historical Commission 20, 3–9.

Lucas, A.M. (2003). Assistance at a distance: George Bentham, Ferdinand von Mueller and the production of Flora australiensis. Archives of Natural History 30, 255–281.

Maroske, S. (2001). The fate of the Cranbourne meteorites. Victorian Naturalist 118, 305–308.

Gillbank, L. and Maroske, S. (1998). Fourteen plants and a fungus: Ferdinand Mueller's taxonomic imprint on the flora of the Buffalo Range. Victorian Naturalist 115, 188–191.

Home, R.W. (1998). A botanist for a continent: Ferdinand von Mueller (1825–96). Endeavour 22, 72–75.

Home, R.W. (1997). Ferdinand Mueller: migration and the sense of self. Historical Records of Australian Science 11, 311–323.

Home, R.W. and Maroske, S. (1997). Ferdinand von Mueller and the French consuls. Explorations 18, 3–50.

Maroske, S. (1997). The private life of a public figure: Baron Ferdinand von Mueller, 1825–1896. Historical Records of Australian Science 11, 335–343.

Maroske, S. (1997). Memories of Mueller. Botanical Magazine 7, 8–13.

Archer, B. and Maroske, S. (1996). Sarah Theresa Brooks: plant collector for Ferdinand Mueller. Victorian Naturalist 113, 188–194.

Cohn, H.M. (1996). Botanical researches in intertropical Australia: Ferdinand Mueller and the North Australian Exploring Expedition. Victorian Naturalist 113, 163–168.

Cohn, H.M. and Maroske, S. (1996). Relief from duties of minor importance: the removal of Baron von Mueller from the directorship of the Melbourne Botanic Gardens. Victorian Historical Magazine 67, 103–127.

Darragh, T.A. (1996). Mueller and personal names in zoology and palaeontology. Victorian Naturalist 113, 195–197.

Heathcote, J. and Maroske, S. (1996). Drifting sands and Marram Grass on the south-west coast of Victoria in the last century. Victorian Naturalist 113, 10–15.

May, T. and Maroske, S. (1996). Ferdinand von Mueller, exhibitioner extraordinaire. Victorian Naturalist 113, 143–145.

Voigt, J.H. (1996). Ferdinand von Mueller und Wurttemberg. Beitrage zur Landeskunde 5, 8–13.

Voigt, J.H. and Sinkora, D.M. (1996). Ferdinand (von) Mueller in Schleswig-Holstein, or: the making of a scientist and of a migrant. Historical Records of Australian Science 11, 13–33.

Lucas, A.M. (1995). Letters, shipwrecks and taxonomic confusion: establishing a reputation from Australia. Historical Records of Australian Science 10, 207–221.

Maroske, S. (1995). Ferdinand Mueller anniversary. Muelleria 8, 395–398.

Maroske, S. (1995). Mueller's educational collection of plants. Botanic Magazine 6, 35.

May, T.Maroske, S. and Sinkora, D.M. (1995). The mycologist, the Baron, the fungi hunters and the mystery artist. Botanic Magazine 6, 36–39.

Maroske, S. and Brown-May, A. (1993). Horticultural embellishments: public conferment from the Melbourne Botanic Garden, 1870. Australian GardenHistory 4(4), 8–14.

Home, R.W.Maroske, S., Lucas, A.M. and Lucas. P.J. (1992). Why explore Antarctica?: Australian discussions in the 1880s. Australian Journal of Politics and History 38, 386–413.

Maroske, S. (1992). The queen of aquatics: Victoria amazonicaAustralian Garden History 3(5), 3–6.

Maroske, S. and Cohn, H.M. (1992). 'Such ingenious birds': Ferdinand Mueller and William Swainson in Victoria. Muelleria 7, 529–553.

Maroske, S. (1991). Planting the Melbourne General Cemetery: the contribution of Ferdinand von Mueller. Australian Garden History 2(5), 3–7.

Maroske, S., Sinkora, D.M. and Cohn, H.M. (1991). Ferdinand von Mueller's library. Botanic Magazine 4, 17–23.

Book chapters

Maroske, S. (2011). Eugene von Guérard and rainforests. In Ruth Pullin, ed., Eugene von Guérard:Nature Revealed (Melbourne, National Gallery of Victoria), pp. 156-57.

Home, R.W. (2008). Mueller, Ferdinand Jakob Heinrich von. In New dictionary of scientific biography, vol. 5, pp. 204–209. Thomson Gale, Detroit & London.

Home, R.W. (2005). Science. In A. Brown-May and S. Swain (eds). The encyclopedia of Melbourne, pp. 640–645. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Home, R.W. (2000). Emigrants or scientific travellers?: Ferdinand Mueller and Georg Neumayer between Germany and Australia. In E.I. Mitchell (ed.), Baron von Mueller's German Melbourne, pp. 11–19. La Trobe University, Bundoora (Plenty Valley papers, 3).

Maroske, S. (2000). Germans at the Melbourne Botanic Garden and Herbarium, 1853–96. In E.I. Mitchell (ed.), Baron von Mueller's German Melbourne, pp. 24–20. La Trobe University, Bundoora (Plenty Valley papers, 3).

Gillbank, L. and Maroske, S. (1996). Behind the botany of the Horn Expedition: Ferdinand Mueller's documentation of the larapintine flora. In S.R. Morton and D.J. Mulvaney (eds), Exploring Central Australia: society, the environment and the 1894 Horn Expedition, pp. 209–224. Surrey Beatty, Chipping Norton.

Home, R.W. (1994). Science as a German export to nineteenth century Australia. Sir Robert Menzies Centre for Australian Studies, Institute for Commonwealth Studies (Working papers in Australian studies, 104).

Maroske, S. (1993). The whole great continent as a present: nineteenth-century Australian women workers in science. In F. Kelly (ed.), On the edge of discovery, pp. 13–34. Text Publishing, Melbourne.

Lucas, A.M. (1988). Baron von Mueller: protege turned patron. In R.W. Home(ed.), Australian science in the making, pp. 132–152. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Books

Home, R.W., Lucas, A.M., Maroske, S., Sinkora, D.M., Voigt, J.H. and Wells, M. (eds) (2006). Regardfully yours: selected correspondence of Ferdinand von Mueller, vol. 3: 1876–1896. Peter Lang, Bern.

Home, R.W., Lucas, A.M., Maroske, S., Sinkora, D.M. and Voigt, J.H. (eds) (2002). Regardfully yours: selected correspondence of Ferdinand von Mueller, vol. 2: 1860–1875. Peter Lang, Bern.

Home, R.W., Lucas, A.M., Maroske, S., Sinkora, D.M. and Voigt, J.H. (eds) (1998). Regardfully yours: selected correspondence of Ferdinand von Mueller, vol. 1: 1840–1859. Peter Lang, Bern.

Voigt, J.H. (1996). Die Erforschung Australiens: der Briefwechsel zwischen August Petermann und Ferdinand von Mueller 1861–1878. Justus Perthes Verlag, Gotha.