By Christian Franzen
Joyce Allan was born on April 8th,1896 in Sydney, Australia. Being one of eight children, Allan spent a majority of her childhood reading. She particularly liked to read scientific books and journals that described the marine life in Australia.
Allan attended private school until she entered high school at the Fort Street Girls High School. When she had free time from school she would visit the Australian Museum in Sydney and help sort shells as well as animal remains. This volunteer work earned her a job as an assistant to museum curator, Charles Hedley. Allan was responsible for keeping records on the museums collections. It was here that she began to seriously use her drawing talents and sketch the contents of her museum. These drawings gained her recognition and she began to display them side by side her academic writings on the subjects.
While at the museum she became increasingly interested in mollusks and shelled sea life. Her drawings of these mollusks intensified with her continued studies of the subject. In 1949, she became the curator of shells at the museum. The following year she wrote and helped illustrate her book, Australian Shells. The book describes Australian mollusks in detail and remains a staple for collectors as well as the scientific community. Allan continued to work at the museum until she suffered from health complications in the mid 1950's, but still remained on of the top opinions on mollusks in Australia until her death in 1966. Her illustrations are still used by the scientific community today.