Robert Campbell collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of expedition material relating to the Scottish Spitsbergen Syndicate Expedition, 1920

Administrative / Biographical History

Robert Campbell was born on 1 January 1881 at Auchenblae, Kincardineshire, Scotland. He was educated at Edinburgh University, graduating with an MA in 1903. He was appointed lecturer in petrology and assistant to Professor James Geikie at Edinburgh University in 1904, graduating with a BSc the following year. He conducted a detailed study of the rocks from Gough Island brought back by the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition, 1902-1904 (leader William Speirs Bruce). In 1911, Campbell was awarded a doctorate for his research on the geology of south-eastern Kincardineshire. Between 1914 and 1915, he served as president of the Edinburgh Geological Society, having been elected a fellow in 1904, and later served as honorary editor of the Society.

In 1920, Campbell joined the Scottish Spitsbergen Syndicate Expedition as field geologist, working for a summer season from Brucebyen on the geology of the Billefjorden area in Spitsbergen. The Scottish Spitsbergen Syndicate was founded by William Speirs Bruce in 1909 as a mineral exploration company to locate and assay the potential of the Svalbard archipelago for the exploitation of minerals such as coal, gypsum, iron ore, marble and possibly petroleum. The initial work was to be primarily scientific, but good commercial prospects were held out as incentives to shareholders in the company. Despite seven expeditions between 1909 and 1922, the Syndicate conducted no commercial mining operations.

After the expedition, Campbell was promoted reader in petrology at Edinburgh University in 1922, later serving as director of studies in science from 1933. Retiring in 1951, he died on 19 February 1957 in Kincardineshire.

Published work Rocks from Gough Island, South Atlantic (collected by the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition, 1903-1904), Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1914 No.50 part 2 (13) SPRI Library Shelf (7)91(08)[1902-1904 Bruce]


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 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 and 'Robert Campbell' by Douglas Alexander Allan in Year Book Royal Society of Edinburgh, 1956-1957, SPRI Library Shelf 92[Campbell, Robert] and Polar Record volume 10 number 65 May 1960 p210 and The Polar Record volume 28 number 167 October 1992 p285-292

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.

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Further accessions possible