Humber River 1680

Papers of George de Boer


Hull-born George de Boer attended both St George’s School, Hull (see U DDB/1/2) and Hymers College, Hull (see U DDB/1/3). In 1939 he was awarded a scholarship to St John’s College, Cambridge to read geography, but his studies were interrupted by World War II. He originally enlisted, but later registered as a Conscientious Objector (see U DDB/1/5).

During the War de Boer worked in agriculture, Civil Defence in Hull, and with urban planner Max Lock on the Hull Regional Survey (see U DDB/1/8). de Boer continued to study in his spare time and in 1944 published his first paper ‘A system of glacier lakes in the Yorkshire Wolds’ in the Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological Society (see U DDB/3/7/7).

After the war, de Boer finished his studies and returned to Hull as Assistant Lecturer in the Department of Geography at Hull University College (which became Hull University in 1954). He continued to teach physical geography for the next 38 years in various posts at Hull. 

He taught geomorphology, the study of the physical features of the surface of the earth and their relation to its geological structures, in lectures, practicals and field courses, and undertook expeditions to the Lake District and Norway for research. He was involved with numerous associations and societies holding various roles including President, Secretary and Vice-President (see U DDB/1/6 and U DDB/1/7).

George de Boer published numerous articles, papers, books and chapters, both alone and collaboratively. The collection contains extensive material that he collected as research for his many publications based on Spurn and its geology for both an academic and wider audience (see U DDB/2 and U DDB/3).

He focussed on the historical evolution of Spurn Head and in 1964 published ‘Spurn Head: its history and evolution’. Other publications relating to Spurn lighthouses and early maps followed. His academic interests led to his involvement with the Yorkshire Naturalists’ Trust (YNT) and in his subsequent role as Chairman of the Spurn Management Committee.

What can the collection be used for?

This multi-faceted collection can be used to study the geomorphology and history of the Holderness coast, Sunk Island and the Humber region. Extensive material shows the evolution of Spurn, including its buildings, recreational use and habitat which can be used to understand established patterns and inform future research.

It also provides an insight into the wartime history of Hull’s town planning and YNT’s association with local authorities and residents in their protection of Spurn Nature Reserve, giving an awareness of how a voluntary organisation works towards its objectives.

Areas of study include local history, environmental and earth sciences, geography and history.

What records will I find in the collection?

The collection contains material collected over a lifetime of study and involvement with associations and societies. It comprises minutes of meetings, newsletters, research notes by various authors, correspondence, draft and printed publications with comprehensive references, photographs, slides, maps, plans and cross sections. Many of the items have handwritten annotations and additions.

How do I access the collection?

The collection (ref U DDB) is available for anyone to use. Due to the personal and sensitive nature of some of the material certain closures have been placed on parts of this collection, and these are clearly identified on the catalogue entries.

U DDB/1 Personal and professional life
U DDB/2 General research material
U DDB/3 Publications with research material
U DDB/4 Yorkshire Naturalists’ Trust and Spurn Management Committee

Access conditions

Access to unrestricted material will be granted to any accredited reader. However, access to some of the material in this collection is restricted under the terms of data protection legislation. Access to material closed under GDPR may be accessible for research. 

For any enquiries relating to research access, please contact the University Archives team.

Is there other material relating to George de Boer and his work?

There is a wide range of related archival material at the History Centre. The catalogue contains an extensive list of some of these, but includes the organisations he worked with, Second World War material with post-war town planning, school records and local history information.

Some related collections include Records of the Humber Ports of the British Transport Docks Board, later Associated British Ports (C DPD), Records of the City Planning Office (C TPP), and Ravenser Odd: lost port of the Humber (U DX233).