Letter by H C Russell, 13 November 1890

Letter by H C Russell, 13 November 1890

13th November 90

The Postmaster


I have sent you several circulars calling for Returns of the temperature Rainfall & weather at Warren during 1889 & the present year of which you have not taken any notice. Excepting to send in very imperfect returns for July August & September of this year.

For the first 6 months of this year I have no returns. I am writing to you now as a last reminder before making an official complaint against you for neglect of duty. This work was duly undertaken by you and the neglect of it has made the record of Temperature and Rainfall at Warren most unsatisfactory.
I have the honour to be
Your obedient Servant
H. C. Russell
Govt Astronomer

2 responses to “Letter by H C Russell, 13 November 1890

  • Hi Jeff

    The post/telegraph station master staff were paid to collect meteorological data, and were supposed to provide monthly returns. They were provided with instruments and log books, arranged by the Government Astronomer of Sydney Observatory, in order to carry out these tasks.

    In the course of this one-year Sydney Observatory historical letters project, we have read several thousand copies of letters written from Sydney Observatory – mostly by the Government Astronomer of the time, which for most of that time was Henry Chamberlain Russell – between 1858 and 1903. We estimate we’ve read only about 5% of the letter copies held by NSW State Archives. And we’ve only been able to include a small percentage of those in this letter blog project.

    I am unable to tell you from the letters we’ve read whether the Warren Station Master lifted his game or whether his services were terminated. But I’m confident that H C Russell would have insisted on one or the other. Russell’s keen pursuit of scientific knowledge is evident through the letters, as is his refusal to tolerate those who did not perform their duties professionally or with care.

    There were also some volunteer contributors of data – but the Government Astronomer was generally unable to supply these people with instruments, the number of which was limited by the budget.

    You will find through the letters published on this blog several examples of Russell’s frustration at the lack of commitment of some of the (paid) meteorological observers.

    If I come across a further letter regarding the situation at Warren, I’ll try to remember to let you know.

  • This Postmaster obviously wasn’t interested enough to collect the meteorological data. That probably explains why many regions of Australia have Automatic weather stations since they are more reliable than people who are meant to be performing this line of duty.

    It would be interesting to find out if this Postmaster agreed to take meteorological observations on a volunteer basis. But it looks likely that the Postmaster was being paid and so yes indeed he did neglect his duties. Anyone know what happened?

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