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Preserving Old Records

Pages of an open manuscript journal

Logan journal, McGill University Archives

Would you like to follow all of William Logan's trips, step-by-step? Do you want to know what he ate, how he survived hordes of mosquitoes, or what happened when he broke one of his instruments? Today you can do this by reading Logan's field notebooks and personal journals. These can be found in various libraries and archives. You can also look at online versions by following the links below.

While out in the field examining and collecting rocks, the "rock stars" made lots of notes. They filled notebooks and journals, and wrote reports and letters. Early geologists like William Logan also made sketches and painted watercolours of the places they visited. Later on, photography had been developed and explorers such as Robert Bell took lots of photographs. All of these methods of recording information were important. The records these scientists left behind still exist today.

Page from Logan's manuscript notebook featuring a sketch of a man beside a massive boulder

Many of Logan's notebooks and journals include sketches

There are thousands of geological field notebooks, starting with William Logan's. The notebooks cover every corner of the country, in detail not found anywhere else. There are also more personal items like letters, diaries and essays that were written by the geologists who came after Logan.

These records are not all in one place. William Logan's notebooks are kept at Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa. His journals can be found at the National Library of Wales, at the Toronto Public Library and in the McGill University Archives in Montréal. McGill University also has many of Logan's professional and personal letters.

Cover of William Logan's manuscript notebook

Logan notebook, Library and Archives Canada

Many of the photographs taken by Geological Survey of Canada members are in the Library and Archives Canada's collections. There are also over 500,000 photos at the Geological Survey of Canada's own library, today known as the Earth Sciences Information Centre (ESIC). ESIC also has Logan's personal collection of scientific books. It is the oldest scientific library in Canada (it turned 150 years old in 2004) and holds Canada's largest earth sciences collection.

Thanks to the Internet, it is now possible to see many of the "rock stars'" documents and Logan's personal library.

Page from William Logan's journal showing a sketch of a plant

Logan was a naturally curious individual. He collected information about rocks and fossils, but also about flora and fauna

Page from one of William Logan's journals, written in London, England, that includes a list of things to take with him to Canada. He included himself on the list

A list of things Logan needed to take on his trip from London to the Bay of Chaleur. An extremely important item is listed under number 12: himself.