Robert Neal Rudmose Brown collection

Scope and Content

The collection relates to the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition, 1902-1904 (leader William Speirs Bruce), Spitsbergen, Svalbard and general correspondence on polar related topics.

Administrative / Biographical History

Robert Neal Rudmose Brown was born in London in 1879. His father, Dr Robert Brown of Campster, was responsible for the geography section in the collection of 'Arctic Papers' prepared by the Royal Geographical Society for the expedition of 1875-1876 (leader George Strong Nares). Rudmose Brown was educated at Dulwich College and read natural sciences at Aberdeen University. From 1900 to 1902, he was assistant professor of botany at University College, Dundee.

After making the acquaintance of William Speirs Bruce he joined the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition, 1902-1904 (led by Bruce) as botanist. Wintering in Scotia at Laurie Island, South Orkney Islands, he made extensive biological collections.

On returning home, he became assistant to Bruce in the Scottish Oceanographical Laboratory in Edinburgh between 1904 and 1905, and was appointed vice-president of the International Polar Congress in 1906. As a lecturer in geography at Sheffield University, he spent several seasons as a field botanist in Svalbard. He worked there over a long period of years, and on most of these occasions was consultant to the Scottish Spitsbergen Syndicate.

During the First World War he worked in the Intelligence Department of the Naval Staff in London and was largely responsible for Arctic information. This was followed up when he became a member of the Naval Intelligence Division during the Second World War. He collaborated in the compilation of Spitsbergen information and this, and his previous work, was recognised by his being made Commander of the Order of St Olav by the Norwegian Government.

From 1920 to 1922, Rudmose Brown was reader in geography at Manchester and in 1931, he was appointed professor of geography at Sheffield University. He was made president of the Institute of British Geographers between 1937 and 1938. On his retirement in 1945, he was made emeritus professor at Sheffield University. He died in Sheffield on 27 January 1957, bequeathing his polar library to the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, England.

Published work, The voyage of the Scotia, being the record of a voyage of exploration in Antarctic Seas C. Hurst, London (1978) SPRI Library Shelf (7)91(08)[1902-1904 Bruce] and The polar regions, a physical and economic geography of the Arctic and Antarctic Methuen, London (1927) SPRI Library Shelf (2)[pub 1927] and A naturalist at the Poles. The life, work and voyages of Dr. W.S. Bruce, the polar explorer Seeley, Service & Co. London (1923) SPRI Library Shelf 92[Bruce, W.S.]


The collection has been split into three sub-fonds. Material created during or related to the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition, 1902-1904 (leader William Speirs Bruce), journals, notebooks and unpublished work regarding the Scottish Spitsbergen Syndicate, and general correspondence.

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 The Polar Record, (May 1957) volume 8 number 56 p466-467, and Robert Keith Headland Antarctic Chronology, unpublished corrected revision of Chronological list of Antarctic expeditions and related historical events, (1 December 2001) Cambridge University Press (1989) ISBN 0521309034

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

MS 356/38;D Testimonials and other documents and correspondence concerning his applications for academic posts, circa 1901 to 1923

The Institute holds several archival collections containing material relating to Rudmose Brown including Bjarne Aagaard, Albert Armitage, Louis Charles Bernacchi, Castern Egeberg Borchgrevink, Jean Baptist Charcot, John Lachlan Cope, John King Davis, Frank Debenham, John Scott Keltie, Reginald Koettlitz, Sir Clements Markham, Hugh Robert Mill, Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton and Edward Adrian Wilson