Robert Dawes Aldrich collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of correspondence by Aldrich to Sophia Cracroft regarding the British Franklin Search Expedition, 1857-1859 (leader Francis McClintock).

Administrative / Biographical History

Robert Dawes Aldrich was born in 1808. Joining the Royal Navy in 1824, he was promoted to mate in 1830 and lieutenant in 1842. He served as first lieutenant in HMS Resolute on the British Naval Franklin Search Expedition, 1850-1851 (leader Horatio Austin), sent by the Admiralty to search for Sir John Franklin's missing Northwest Passage expedition. In early October 1850, Aldrich participated in a sledging programme to lay depots on Somerville Island in preparation for a major search by sledge the following year. The following spring, he travelled by sledge to Bathurst Island, examining part of the island's west coast before proceeding north to explore the western coasts of the small islands as far as Cape Aldrich. Retiring as a captain in 1860, he died in 1891.


The correspondence is arranged chronologically.

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 British polar exploration and research a historical and medallic record with biographies 1818-1999 by Lieutenant Colonel Neville W Poulsom and Rear Admiral John A L Myres, Savannah Publications, London (2000) SPRI Library Shelf 737.2 and Arctic, exploration and development c500 BC to 1915, an encyclopaedia by Clive Holland Garland Publishing, London (1994) 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

The Institute holds several archival collections containing material on the British Naval Franklin Search Expedition, 1850-1851 (leader Horatio Austin) of which Aldrich was a member. See SPRI collections GB 15 Sir Horatio Austin, GB 15 Sir George Back, GB 15 Sir Francis Leopold McClintock and GB 15 Sir Erasmus Ommanney.