The Malcolm Brodie collection consists of around 6000 shipping images, including famous wool ships and many migrant ships.
The collection gives an insight into life at sea between the 1880s and 1940s. The images are kept in eight leather-bound volumes. There is also a collection of 19 glass negatives.
Malcolm McCaul Brodie was born in 1865 in Glasgow. In 1889, as a young man of 24, he migrated to Australia on the P&O vessel Parramatta and joined the staff of John Sanderson & Company, Melbourne wool merchants and shipping agents.
When Brodie visited ships in the course of his work he would ask for photographs of the vessels. As his interest became known, ships' masters would collect photographs from other ships on his behalf, forwarding them to his office. In Wool and ships, Joan Gillison described Brodie as giving 'every spare moment…to cataloguing and adding to his magnificent collection of illustrations and photographs of sailing ships'.
Famous wool ships such as the Cutty Sark, Thermopylae, Mermerus and Salamis are represented in the collection along with many migrant ships to Australian shores. There are views of ships in foreign ports, shipping disasters, ships on the high seas, ships rounding Cape Horn, Australian and overseas wharves, and life at sea.
Brodie bequeathed his collection to the then Melbourne Public Library and it was acquired by the Library on his death in 1946.