Papers of George de Boer



Admin History:

George de Boer (1920-2011) and his elder brother Frank (1914-1969) were born in Hull to Hessel and Ethel de Boer. He is believed to have attended St George's Road School, Hull between 1925 and 1931 (see U DDB/1/2) before obtaining a scholarship to attend Hymers College, Hull (see U DDB/1/3). While there he was a prefect, Captain of the School XV, Swimming Champion and Head of House and took part in their Officers Training Corps. He was also involved with Varsity and Public Schools North of England Camps (see U DDB/1/4). In 1939 he was awarded a John Hymers' Scholarship to St John's College, Cambridge to read geography. In September 1939 he accompanied the school when it was evacuated to Burnby Hall, Pocklington (see U DDB/2/2/6).

George de Boer's studies at Cambridge, 1939-1941 and 1946-1947, were interrupted by World War II. He originally enlisted, but later registered as a Conscientious Objector (see U DDB/1/5). During the War he worked at A & G West, Farmers and Market Gardeners, Cottingham and in Civil Defence in Hull. In 1943 he assisted urban planner Max Lock on the Hull Regional Survey which resulted in detailed proposals of how the city should be rebuilt after the wartime bombing (see U DDB/1/8). George 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).

Following the end of the war George de Boer was awarded a First Class Degree and Certificate in Education from Cambridge University. He 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, having been made Lecturer in 1949, Senior Lecturer in 1964 and Reader in 1967, retiring in 1982, but continuing to teach part-time until 1985. He was also involved with Adult Education, Hull College of Higher Education and numerous associations and societies. This included becoming a member of the Yorkshire Geological Society in 1944, Hull Geological Society in 1945 and the Hull branch of the Geographical Association, holding various roles within them including President, Secretary and Vice-President (see U DDB/1/6 and U DDB/1/7). 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 research expeditions to the Lake District and Norway. In 1984 the George de Boer biennial public lecture on a topic connected to physical geography was inaugurated in his honour (see U DDB/1/6/4).

In 1952 he married Margaret Nield at Norbury Parish Church, Cheshire and settled in Cottingham, Hull. She had also been a student at Cambridge and went on to teach geography in York and then in and around Hull. They had two children, Bridget and John. Margaret de Boer died in 2000 after 48 years of marriage. George de Boer was a lifelong Methodist, being a local preacher for over 50 years. He was known as an outstanding bass singer, being in demand as a soloist. He was a member of the Hull University Choir and the Cottingham Methodist Church Choir. In 2009 he moved to a Methodist Home for the Aged in Hitchin, Hertfordshire where he died a week short of his 91st birthday in 2011.

George de Boer published numerous articles, papers, books and chapters, both alone and collaboratively with a variety of authors, including one of his ex-students Ada Phillips, later Ada Pringle. The collection contains examples of his publications and the research material used to inform his work for both an academic and wider audience (see U DDB/2 and U DDB/3). It provides extensive material that he collected both as research for his many publications based on Spurn and its geology and also in his role as Chairman of the Spurn Management Committee. His research had begun in 1959 following a grant from Nature Conservancy for coastal investigations along the Holderness coast and at Spurn Head, later extended north to Filey Brigg (see U DDB/1/7/5). A further grant was awarded to the research group in 1962. George de Boer focussed on the historical evolution of Spurn Head, analysing historical data to provide a model of the evolution sequence of Spurn spits. His paper 'Spurn Head: its history and evolution' was published in 1964 and others related to Spurn lighthouses and early maps followed. His academic interests lead to his involvement with the Yorkshire Naturalists' Trust.

Yorkshire Naturalists' Trust (YNT) and Spurn

YNT was set up in 1946 following the purchase of Askham Bog, York. By the end of the 1950s the number of Trusts across the country had expanded and the national association, The Wildlife Trust, undertook the role to represent them. YNT is now known as the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.

The Spurn Point National Nature Reserve was purchased in 1959 for £1500 by the Trust. It's situated on the east coast of Yorkshire, the southern point of the Holderness coast, and the 3.5 mile long sand and shingle spit forms a barrier where the North Sea and the River Humber meet. Spurn consists of 280 acres of land above and 477 acres below the high water mark and has been recognised as a site of Special Scientific Interest since 1957. It provides a mixture of coastal, marine and grassland habitats that are rich in bird, aquatic and coastal wildlife providing a resting place for migrating birds and for ornithological, botanical, entomological and physiographical study.

The Reserve also includes the Spurn Bird Observatory, two lighthouses, a manned Royal National Lifeboat Institution station, the remains of a railway track and First World War gun emplacements. All of which are represented in this collection.

The collection includes 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. A wide array of historical material has been used and items include projections and conjecture resulting from George de Boer's research.