Robert Hood collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of material relating to Hood's early career in the Royal Navy and to the British Naval Exploring Expedition, 1819-1822 (leader John Franklin).

Administrative / Biographical History

Robert Hood was born in 1797 at Portarlington, Ireland, the son of the Reverend Richard Hood. In 1809, he joined the Royal Navy as a first-class volunteer, serving in the Baltic, the Mediterranean and on the Cape of Good Hope station, and was promoted midshipman in 1811. In 1819, he was appointed midshipman on the British Naval Exploring Expedition [first Arctic Land Expedition], 1819-1822 (leader John Franklin), sent by the Admiralty to explore the north coast of America east from the mouth of Coppermine River to Hudson Bay.

After wintering at Cumberland House (Saskatchewan) in 1819, where Hood conducted meteorological observations and made sketches and watercolours of native people and natural history, the expedition travelled via Fort Providence to Winter Lake where they built their base, Fort Enterprise, and wintered in 1820. Leaving the fort in June 1821, the expedition travelled down the Coppermine River to its mouth, then proceeded east along the coast in two canoes, exploring and charting over 600 miles of newly discovered coastline before turning back at Point Turnagain on Dease Strait. Weakened by starvation and cold on the arduous return journey to Fort Enterprise, Hood was murdered on 20 October 1821 by the voyageur Michel Terohaute. News of Hood's promotion to lieutenant in January 1821 reached the expedition some weeks after his death.

During the expedition, Hood recorded important meteorological, magnetic and auroral data, and his journal, describing his scientific observations, the natural history and local customs, formed the basis for part of Franklin's narrative, which was illustrated with eight engravings from Hood's drawings.

Published work To the Arctic by canoe, 1819-1821. The journals and paintings of Robert Hood, midshipman with Franklin, edited by C. Stuart Houston, Arctic Institute of North America and McGill-Queen's University Press, Montreal (1974) SPRI Library Shelf (41)91(08)[1819-1822 Franklin]


The collection is split into two sub-fonds comprising of his early logbooks and material relating to the Arctic overland expedition respectively.

Access Information

By appointment.

Some materials deposited at the Institute are NOT owned by the Institute. In such cases the archivist will advise about any requirements imposed by the owner. These may include seeking permission to read, extended closure, or other specific conditions.


Anyone wishing to consult material should ensure they note the entire MS reference and the name of the originator.

The term holograph is used when the item is wholly in the handwriting of the author. The term autograph is used when the author has signed the item.

Descriptions compiled by N. Boneham, Assistant Archivist with assistance from R. Stancombe and reference to 'Hood, Robert' by Jim Burant in Dictionary of Canadian Biography volume 6 edited by Francess G Halpenny University of Toronto Press, Toronto (1987) SPRI Library Shelf 92(08)[pub.1966-] and 'Robert Hood (1797-1821)' by C Stuart Houston in Arctic volume 36 number 2 1983 p210-211 and 'Lieutenant Robert Hood 1797-1821', by A G E Jones in Musk-ox volume 16 1975 p67-68 and Arctic, exploration and development c500 BC to 1915, an encyclopaedia by Clive Holland Garland Publishing, London (1994) ISBN number 0824076486 and Exploring Polar Frontiers, a historical encyclopaedia by William Mills San Diego and Oxford, 2003

Other Finding Aids

Clive Holland Manuscripts in the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, England - a catalogue, Garland Publishing New York and London (1982) ISBN 0824093941.

Additional finding aids are available at the Institute.

Conditions Governing Use

Copying material by photography, electrostat, or scanning device by readers is prohibited. The Institute may be able to provide copies of some documents on request for lodgement in publicly available repositories. This is subject to conservation requirements, copyright law, and payment of fees.

Copyright restrictions apply to most material. The copyright may lie outside the Institute and, if so, it is necessary for the reader to seek appropriate permission to consult, copy, or publish any such material. (The Institute does not seek this permission on behalf of readers). Written permission to publish material subject to the Institute's copyright must be obtained from the Director. Details of conditions and fees may be had from the Archivist.


Further accessions possible.

Related Material

Correspondence by Robert Hood's father can be found amongst the Richardson-Voss collection held by the Institute (MS 1503/4/4;RV HOOD Letter to John Richardson [Thanks for kindness to son] 22 October 1822)

Personal Names