One of the treasures of the MBL Library's Rare Books Collection is the complete set of texts and 7 atlases describing the voyage of exploration conducted by Dumont dUrville from 1826 to 1829. Twenty-two texts cover the history of the voyage, as well as studies on meteorology, magnetism, oceanic temperatures, botany, zoology, entomology, hydrography and philology, this last being the study of the Oceanic languages encountered during the voyage. The 22 texts were published in Paris by J. Tastu, Éditeur-Imprimeur. The 23rd text, Observations Nautiques, Météorologiques, Hydrographiques et de Physique was published in Paris in 1833 by the Marine Ministry.
In the preface to the first volume of the series appears the letter of instructions to Dumont d'Urville from the Secretary of the Navy, Comte de Chabrol. In his message he notes that "in several preceding voyages" some officers, scientists, and even sailors have bought and kept for themselves items of natural history which were never included in the collection destined for the King's collection, nor were they ever described or made public. It is to be desired in the interest of science and for the reputation of the expedition of the Astrolabe that the same thing will not occur in this new undertaking. You must make it clear to all aboard this ship that new and rare species of animals, plants or minerals which are brought aboard must, without exception, be made part of the King's collection and must be kept in the hands of the naturalists. It will be most gratifying to me, Sir, in showing your reports to the King to note to His Majesty that you have completely justified, through your labors, the confidence that He has deigned to give you in charging you with a mission important both to the sciences and to the Navy."
The texts and the beautifully illustrated atlases of Dumont d'Urville's journeys bear a lasting testament to the fulfillment of his charge.