Guide to the notebooks
Guide and transcripts prepared by Dr John Sherwood, Honorary Associate Professor, Deakin University
The collection of seventeen of Edmund Gill's field notebooks held in Deakin University Library have been digitised in their entirety. Each notebook may be seen alongside an accompanying transcript, which has the advantage of being searchable and which deciphers Gill's sometimes challenging handwriting! Dr John Sherwood, Gill's friend and colleague, worked on the transcripts and has provided the following notes to assist those using the collection.
General layout of the notebooks:
Gill adopted a standard approach to each notebook.
1. Each notebook is numbered and covers the geographical range of Western Victoria, although Gill's interests were wider than this.
2. All pages in each notebook are numbered, greatly facilitating cross referencing.
3. An index appears at the front of each notebook.
4. A list of quotations that caught Gill’s fancy is normally found at the back of a notebook, along with details of the people and organisations with whom Gill was collaborating.
5. New topics normally commence at the top of a new page. Under the heading of a new topic will often be a reference to other pages in the current or other notebooks dealing with the same topic.
6. Occasionally Gill has prepared a list of all entries across the notebooks dealing with a particular subject. These occur randomly through the notebooks and are listed in a notebook index where appropriate.
Use of abbreviations:
Gill adopted a shorthand approach to his records and this can generally be interpreted by technically literate science readers, particularly those with knowledge of earth sciences, chemistry and biology.
The following points indicate the main issues which readers need to consider.
1. Words, with rare exceptions, have been typed as Gill wrote them. Incorrectly spelt words are generally unchanged e.g. gasteropod (gastropod) and waggon (wagon).
2. In some cases words have been corrected to make their meaning clear e.g. Shergold (Sherwood) and fill (film). In most cases the corrections are shown in brackets after the word as in the examples above.
3. Binomial species names have not been underlined or italicised. They are correctly shown with the genus starting with a capital letter and the species with a lower case letter. Spellings are as recorded by Gill.
4. Geological time intervals are frequently abbreviated by Gill. These abbreviations have been retained e.g. Plio (Pliocene) and Mio (Miocene). Subdivisions within these are also often abbreviated e.g. U. (Upper) or L. (late).
5. Chemical symbols are used throughout and a knowledge of chemical symbolism is assumed e.g. C14 (the isotope carbon 14), K/Ar (potassium /argon dating), CaCO3 (calcium carbonate).
6. A mixture of metric (e.g. metre, kilometre, hectare, gram) and imperial units (foot, mile, pound, acre, gallon) appear throughout the notebooks and care should be taken to ensure the correct units are applied to quantities.
7. Both imperial (£) and decimal ($) currency is used for costs or value throughout the notebooks.
8. Geological time intervals are frequently abbreviated e.g. ka, ky, kyr (thousands of years), My, my, Myr (millions of years), Ga (Giga years or billions of years).
9. Interglacial and Glacial periods are a constant theme throughout the notebooks. The Last Interglacial (~125ka) is abbreviated L/IGl while the Last Glacial (~20ka) is L/Gl or just Gl.
10. Some abbreviations are recognised as standard within their disciplines e.g. chemistry: ppm (part per million), ppb (part per billion); surveying: AHD (Australian Height Datum), MSL (Mean Sea Level), RL (Relative Level), PBM (Permanent Bench Mark).
11. Where it has not been possible to interpret Gill’s handwriting the best guess is included but highlighted in yellow.
12. In earlier notebooks Gill frequently abbreviated Aborigine(s) to Abo(s). In later notebooks, Gill uses the full word(s) reflecting the changing cultural awareness of white Australians toward Aboriginal people.
Diagrams, photographs and maps:
A feature of the notebooks is the many photographs and hand drawn illustrations (often coloured) used by Gill as he interpreted field observations. He also pasted into the notebooks extracts from scientific or historical articles, data from other sources (e.g. bore logs), parts of maps, letters and newspaper articles.
In some cases these have been typed and included in the transcript. Mostly however the location of a particular diagram, map or photograph is noted on the page with a brief description of the topic it addresses. Readers who wish to learn more should consult the digital version of the notebooks, from which the transcripts are drawn.