The collection contains the papers of William John Burchell (1781-1865), artist, naturalist and traveller. With the exception of few original manuscripts and notebooks, most items consist of transcriptions made by Mrs H.M. McKay.
Correspondence, some originals and some Ms transcripts by H.M. McKay, of early letters 1795-1805, letters from St. Helena 1806-1810, letters from South Africa 1811-1815 and letters between Burchell and his family, friends and scientific colleagues 1824-1865, Names of correspondents include H. Alexander, Earl Bathurst, Earl of Caledon, Sir W.J. Hooker, W. Goddard Jackson, H. Nourse, J. Phillips, Marquess of Salisbury, Lord C.H. Somerset, Sir A. Stockenstroom, W. Swainson, D. Turner and J.O. Westwood.
An Ms transcript of the St. Helena Journal, Ts transcript of unpublished journal May-Sep. 1812 and a Hg journal Jan.-Mar.21, 1863; transcript of annotations in Burchell's own copy of his Travels; Hg poem 'Address to "Lot", rock in the Island of St. Helena'; financial records and copies of family wills; catalogues of the books and pictures in the Burchell estate and other miscellaneous papers.
Also included is the sorted material of research and publications, collected and submitted by H.M. McKay. The material is relating to her extensive study of W.J. Burchell.