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Mary Lodder was born in England in 1853. Mary, along with her parents and two siblings, arrived in Tasmania in 1875. Mary remained at home with her parents after her siblings married.
The collection and classifications of shells was a hobby and ‘respectable pursuit’ for many Victorian ladies. Mary possessed great expertise not only as a collector, but in her grasp of taxonomic recording, ensuring her own collections were meticulously researched, labelled and later placed in public institutions.
Largely self-taught, Mary began to correspond with renowned malacologists overseas. Her interest led to an association with the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery. She gave her time voluntarily to classify and manage their collections. She also published many papers for the Royal Society of Tasmania.
After the death of her parents, Mary relocated from North-West Tasmania to Launceston, to work with the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery and to devote her spare time to charitable organisations. Mary actively supported many charities including the Children’s Protection Society, the Ministering Children’s League, and the Girls Friendly Society. Mary also shared her great knowledge of malacology by conducting evening classes at the Museum.
At the time of her death, Mary bequeathed her collection of shells and display cases to the Museum in Launceston and left generous bequests to the various charities she had supported.
On her death the obituary in The Examiner (6 March 1911, p5) stated:
A member of many learned societies, and known to almost every shell collector in Australia, as well as in many foreign countries, her scientific attainments would have made many a smaller character more widely known. But so quietly was her work done that…few grasped the scientific possibilities she possessed.
Photo Credit: Supplied by the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Specimens from The Lodder Collection