Allan Thomson (geologist)

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James Allan Thomson
Born 27 July 1881
Dunedin, New Zealand
Died 6 May 1928(1928-05-06) (aged 46)
Wellington, New Zealand
Residence New Zealand

James Allan Thomson (27 July 1881 – 6 May 1928) was a New Zealand geologist, scientific administrator and museum director.

He was born in Dunedin, New Zealand, in 1881, where his father was a science teacher at Otago Boys' High School. He graduated from Otago University in 1904, the same year as Sir Peter Buck.[1] Selected as New Zealand's first Rhodes Scholar, he studied geology, played rugby, rowed and ran at St John's College, Oxford.

After doing geology in Australia, he was appointed palaeontologist with the New Zealand Geological Survey in 1911 and then succeeded Augustus Hamilton as director of the Dominion Museum (now Te Papa) in 1914. [2]

He was accepted as a geologist on Robert Falcon Scott's Terra Nova Expedition to Antarctica, but he developed pulmonary tuberculosis and was forced to withdraw. The tuberculosis continued to trouble him and his health declined.[2]

He was president of the Royal Society of New Zealand for a short time before his death in 1928; he was preceded by Bernard Cracroft Aston, who also stepped in after his death until the appointment of Clinton Coleridge Farr.[3]

His daughter Margaret became a noted film director.[4]

Selected works[edit]

  • Brachiopod morphology and genera: recent and tertiary Dominion Museum, 1927. Wellington New Zealand.


  1. ^ "Allan Thomson : New Zealand's first Rhodes scholar" (PDF). Retrieved 17 September 2017. 
  2. ^ a b Hornibrook, N. De B. "James Allan Thomson". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 1 December 2011. 
  3. ^ "Royal Society Te Apārangi - Presidents". Retrieved 17 September 2017. 
  4. ^ "Margaret Thomson - NZ On Screen". Retrieved 17 September 2017.