Joyce Allan

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Joyce Allan
Joyce Allan, ca. 1930s.jpg
Allan in the 1930s
Born(1896-04-08)April 8, 1896
Balmain, Sydney, Australia
DiedAugust 31, 1966(1966-08-31) (aged 70)
Mosman, Australia
OccupationConchologist, Museum Curator and Scientific Illustrator
Spouse(s)Hector Walker Kirkpatrick
Parent(s)Joseph Stuart Allan and Florence Fountain Allan, née Hesketh

Joyce Allan (8 April 1896 – 31 August 1966) was an Australian conchologist, museum curator at the Australian Museum and a scientific illustrator.


Early life and education

Allan was born Catherine Mabel Joyce Allan on 8 April 1896 in Balmain, Sydney. [1] She was the eighth child of Florence Fountain Allan née Hesketh and Joseph Stuart Allan. [2] Allan's education was initially private but she went on to attend Fort Street Girls' High School. [2] During her time at secondary school she often visited the Australian Museum and would sort shells for Charles Hedley. [1]


Allan examining specimens at the Australian Museum Joyce Allan arranging mollusks for the Australian Museum, New South Wales, 9 March 1933, 1.jpg
Allan examining specimens at the Australian Museum

Allan was appointed as a temporary employee at the Australia Museum in February 1917 and worked as an assistant to Charles Hedley. [2] She was initially responsible for assisting with the curation of the conchology collection as well as providing illustrations for scientific papers written by other museum staff. [2] Allan was a talented artist [1] and exhibited artwork with the Royal Art Society of New South Wales. [2] As time progressed she gained more expertise in molluscs and began writing scientific articles. [1] She signed both her artwork and her scientific papers "Joyce K. Allan". [2] Most of her published papers were related to the subclass Opisthobranchia. [3]

New Zealand Mollusca by Joyce K. Allan Mollusca, New Zealand.jpg
New Zealand Mollusca by Joyce K. Allan

In 1920 Allan obtained a permanent position at the museum, and upon the resignation of Hedley in 1924, was responsible for the Australia Museums's conchology section with Tom Iredale as her assistant. [1] In 1925 Allan and Iredale's positions were reversed. [1]

In addition to writing scientific papers on molluscs, Allan wrote articles in the Australian Museum Magazine [4] and contributed to the Australian Encyclopaedia. [2] She also undertook speaking engagements. [5] Allan frequently appeared as the subject of articles in newspaper and magazines, not only as a result of being a woman scientist, but also because of her talent at science communication. [6]

In 1931 Allan was appointed to the position of scientific assistant. During the Second World War she worked in the National Emergency Services and was appointed assistant to the superintendent of air-raid precautions. [1] In 1943 Allan was elected a fellow of the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, and in doing so became the first woman to achieve this honour. [6] In 1944 she returned to the Australia Museum and, upon the retirement of Iredale, was chosen to succeed him. [1]

In early 1949 Allan was appointed curator of shells for the Museum and while holding that position attended gatherings of the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science. In 1949 she also attended the Pacific Science Congress in New Zealand and in 1953 travelled to Copenhagen to attend the International Congress of Zoology. [2]

In 1950 Allan authored Australian Shells, the first book to attempt to describe the majority of Australian molluscs. [2] It was well regarded by both the scientific community and mollusc collectors. [1]

Allan retired from her position at the Museum of Australia in June 1956 as a result of suffering from ill health. However she was appointed an honorary zoologist and as such continued to work on a voluntary basis at the museum. She also authored further scientific texts. [2] It was not until 1962 that she ceased working in any capacity at the museum. [1]

Personal life

On 18 May 1949 Allan married Hector Walker Kirkpatrick in St Clement's Anglican Church, Mosman. [1]


Allan died on 31 August 1966 aged 70 at Mosman, of cerebrovascular disease. She was survived by her husband and was cremated. [1] [2]

Selected publications

Species named in honour of Joyce Allan

At least three shells, a fish and an insect have been named in Allan's honour. [2] These include:

Related Research Articles

Malacology Study of the Mollusca

Malacology is the branch of invertebrate zoology that deals with the study of the Mollusca, the second-largest phylum of animals in terms of described species after the arthropods. Mollusks include snails and slugs, clams, octopuses and squid, and numerous other kinds, many of which have shells. One division of malacology, conchology, is devoted to the study of mollusk shells. Malacology derives from Greek μαλακός, malakos, "soft"; and -λογία, -logia.

Conchology Study of mollusc shells

Conchology is the study of mollusc shells. Conchology is one aspect of malacology, the study of molluscs; however, malacology is the study of molluscs as whole organisms, whereas conchology is confined to the study of their shells. It includes the study of land and freshwater mollusc shells as well as seashells and extends to the study of a gastropod's operculum.

Tom Iredale British ornithologist and malacologist

Tom Iredale was an English-born ornithologist and malacologist who had a long association with Australia, where he lived for most of his life. He was an autodidact who never went to university and lacked formal training. This was reflected in his later work; he never revised his manuscripts and never used a typewriter.

Charles Hedley

Charles Hedley was a naturalist, specifically a malacologist. Born in Britain, he spent most of his life in Australia. He was the winner of the 1925 Clarke Medal.

Tornidae Family of gastropods

Tornidae is a family of very small and minute sea snails with an operculum, marine gastropod mollusks in the clade Littorinimorpha. This family used to be known as the Vitrinellidae. Iredale has shown that the family Adeorbidae Monterosato, 1884 should be called Tornidae

<i>Cirsonella</i> Genus of gastropods

Cirsonella is a genus of small sea snails, marine gastropod molluscs in the family Skeneidae.

<i>Conus anemone</i> Species of sea snail

Conus anemone, common name the anemone cone, is a species of sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Conidae, the cone snails and their allies.

<i>Pleurotomella brenchleyi</i> Species of gastropod

Pleurotomella brenchleyi is a species of sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Raphitomidae.

Mangeliidae is a monophyletic family of small to medium-sized, predatory sea snails, marine gastropod mollusks in the superfamily Conoidea.

Teleochilus is a genus of sea snails, marine gastropod mollusks in the family Raphitomidae.

Astele allanae is a species of sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Calliostomatidae. It was named in honour of Joyce Allan.

<i>Stomatella impertusa</i> Species of gastropod

Stomatella impertusa, common name the strigose stomatella or the elongate false ear shell, is a species of sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Trochidae, the top snails.

<i>Guraleus</i> Genus of molluscs

Guraleus is a genus of sea snails, marine gastropod mollusks in the family Mangeliidae.

<i>Clanculus aloysii</i> Species of gastropod

Clanculus aloysii is a species of sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Trochidae, the top snails.

<i>Clanculus plebejus</i> Species of gastropod

Clanculus plebejus, common name the plebeian clanculus, is a species of sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Trochidae, the top snails.

Bernard Charles Cotton was an Australian malacologist and museum curator of British origin.

Charles John Gabriel was an Australian pharmacist and amateur conchologist. He wrote circa 50 scientific papers and articles. He also co-authored the book, Marine Molluscs of Victoria.

<i>Eurytrochus strangei</i> Species of gastropod

Eurytrochus strangei is a species of sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Trochidae, the top snails.

Born Eleanor Fisher, the first of Ernest and Janet Fisher's two daughters, in Belfast on 16 March 1908, but known even then as "Nora", Nora Fisher McMillan, as she became, was a larger-than-life self-taught expert in natural history, especially conchology, specialising in post-glacial fresh-water Mollusca, but with broad academic interests in the history of natural history, geology and other areas, as well as being a keen amateur botanist, naturalist and local historian. She wrote prolifically, with over 400 publications to her name.

Marjorie Katherine Mestayer was a New Zealand curator and conchologist. She is best known for the molluscan, foraminiferal and ostracod species named after her. Beginning as an amateur shell enthusiast, she went on to work as a conchology curator for the Dominion Museum in Wellington. She also received grants for her conchology research. She donated scientific and personal collections to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Walker, Prue. "Joyce Allan, Conchologist". Australian Museum. Australian Museum. Retrieved 8 November 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 McMichael, D. F. "Cultural Advice". Allan, Catherine Mabel Joyce (1896–1966). Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. Retrieved 8 November 2015.
  3. "Allan, Catherine Mabel Joyce (1896–1966)". Encyclopedia of Australian Science. Encyclopedia of Australian Science. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  4. "Museum Magazine". Trove. National Library of Australia. Retrieved 8 November 2015.
  5. "Museum Lecture". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 8 November 2015.
  6. 1 2 Walker, Pru. "Joyce Allan – well-respected scientist". Australian Museum. Australian Museum. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  7. 1 2 "What Women Are Doing – She studies life story of shells". Australian Consolidated Press. Australian Women's Weekly. 25 February 1939. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  8. "Allan, Joyce K." Conchology Inc. Conchology Inc. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  9. "Rissoina allanae Laseron, 1950". World Register of Marine Species. World Register of Marine Species. Retrieved 9 November 2015.