Reverend Arnold Patrick Spencer-Smith collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of material relating to the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition [Ross Sea Party], 1914-1917 (Captains Mackintosh and Stenhouse).

Administrative / Biographical History

Arnold Patrick Spencer-Smith was born on 17 March 1883 in Streatham, London. He was educated at Westminster City School and Woodbridge School and read history at Queens' College, Cambridge. On graduating in 1907, he became a schoolmaster at Merchiston Castle School, near Edinburgh, and was ordained in post in 1910. In November 1913, Spencer-Smith was elected a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and in the following year, was appointed padre and photographer on the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition [Ross Sea Party], 1914-1917 (leader Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton).

He was a member of the party of ten that participated in the gruelling sledging programme to lay a chain of depots across the Ross Ice Shelf towards the Beardmore Glacier, providing supplies for Shackleton's intended crossing party. While on the trail, Spencer-Smith fell ill with scurvy in January 1916 at 83° South. At his own suggestion, he was left alone in a tent while the others continued on to lay the last depot. After their return ten days later, he was pulled on a sledge back towards the base at Cape Evans but died on the journey on 9 March 1916.


The collection 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Assistant Archivist with assistance from R. Stancombe and reference to Robert Keith Headland Antarctic Chronology, unpublished corrected revision of Chronological list of Antarctic expeditions and related historical events, (1 December 2001) Cambridge University Press (1989) ISBN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 and An unlikely hero emerges from the folds of a wallet. Forensic photo-fit confirms identity by Bruce Montgomery and Georgina Safe, in The Australian (24 December 1999) p1,4 SPRI Library Shelf Pam 91(08)(7)[1914-1917 Shackleton] and 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 Queens college, Cambridge

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

Material by Spencer-Smith can also be found amongst the Robert Selbie Clark collection (MS 1619)