Long history of giving recorded at UQ

Did you know that for more than 50 years, gifts made by students to the University of Queensland were recorded by hand in one book?

The University of Queensland Book of Student Benefactors is housed in the UQ Archives and records financial donations received from students from 1925 through to 1959, then from 1966 to 1983. The book has wooden covers of maple, pages of Australian parchment, kangaroo skins for the binding and was designed and illuminated by Eirene Mort and Nora Watson in 1927.

According to UQ Archivist Bruce Ibsen, the book was created following suggestions in the University Magazine in 1921 and Galmahra in 1925, to encourage student benefactions to the University.

Archivist Bruce Ibsen with the Book of Student Benefactions
Archivist Bruce Ibsen with the Book of Student Benefactions at the Celebration of Giving held at Customs House in 2016.

These suggestions were encouraged by Dr. Frederick W. Robinson, a lecturer in Modern Languages, and a proposal was developed to ensure student benefactions became a permanent tradition of University life. Dr. Robinson, or ‘Doc Robbie' as he was affectionately known, was instrumental in the creation of the Fryer Memorial Library of Australian Literature. The Fryer Library is named in honour of John Denis Fryer, a gifted and popular student who died after sustaining injuries in World War One.

Upon commencement the plan was enthusiastically embraced by a graduate, Ena D Eden; an undergraduate, Harold John James Sparks; and an ad eundem gradum graduate1, Dr James Vincent Duhig, who collectively made the first three donations amounting to £5.20 shillings.

The book has been digitised and is available online.


1An ad eundem gradum graduate is someone who was admitted as a graduate of UQ based on their degree awarded by another institution.

This blog was originally published in July 2016 to commemorate the Celebration of Giving event held at Customs House.

Last updated:
15 August 2023