Lincoln Ellsworth collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of correspondence by Ellsworth to the geographer and meteorologist Hugh Robert Mill

Administrative / Biographical History

Lincoln Ellsworth was born on 12 May 1880 to a prominent and wealthy family in Chicago. He studied engineering and survey at Columbia and Yale Universities, in preparation for inheriting his father's mining interests. For several years, he was employed on survey work on the Canadian railways and also acted as assistant engineer on gold-fields in Alaska. During the First World War, he trained as an aviator, serving with the U.S. Army Air Corps before returning to mining.

In 1924 Ellsworth participated in an expedition to the Peruvian Andes to conduct a geological survey, and later in the same year met the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen in New York City, with whom he discussed plans for a polar expedition. The Amundsen-Ellsworth expedition, financed by Ellsworth's father, set out in 1925 from Spitsbergen in two Dornier-Wal seaplanes in an unsuccessful attempt to cross the north polar basin. The following year Ellsworth funded and participated in a flight with Amundsen and Umberto Nobile in Norge, an Italian airship, from Spitsbergen to Teller, Alaska, successfully passing over the North Pole.

In 1931 Ellsworth took part in flights by Graf Zeppelin, a German airship, over Franz Josef Land and Severnaya Zemlya. In the same year he contributed funding to an attempt by the Australian explorer George Hubert Wilkins to take the submarine Nautilus from Spitsbergen northwards under the Arctic pack ice to the North Pole. There followed a long partnership with Wilkins, in association with whom Ellsworth made three attempts to cross Antarctica by air between 1933 and 1936. He succeeded in the third flight after four forced landings, reporting the discovery of Eternity Range and naming James W. Ellsworth Land [Ellsworth Land] and claiming it for the United States. Between 1938 and 1939, again accompanied by Wilkins, he explored parts of the East Antarctica coast by air and sea and claimed the interior 'American Highland' for the United States. He died on 26 May 1951 in New York City.

Published work Beyond horizons by Lincoln Ellsworth, William Heinemann London (1938) SPRI Library Shelf 92[Ellsworth, L.] Search by Lincoln Ellsworth, Brewer, Warren and Putnam New York (1932) SPRI Library Shelf 92[Ellsworth, L.]


The correspondence to Mill is arranged chronologically

Access Information

By appointment.

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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 Encyclopaedia of Antarctica and the Southern Oceans ed. Bernard Stonehouse, John Wiley & Sons Chichester (2002) ISBN 0471986658 SPRI Library (7) and 'Lincoln Ellsworth' by James Mann Wordie in The Geographical Journal volume 117 part 4 (1951) p486-487 SPRI Library Shelf Pam 92[Ellsworth] and Lincoln Ellsworth, the forgotten hero of polar exploration by Donald Dale Jackson, Smithsonian volume 21 number 7 October 1990 p171-SPRI Library Shelf Pam 92[Ellsworth]

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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