The collection covers Wright's participation in the British Antarctic Expedition, 1910-1913 (leader Robert Falcon Scott) and general correspondence encompassing both polar and personal material.
Sir Charles Wright collection
- This material is held at
- ReferenceGB 15 Sir Charles Wright
- Dates of Creation1910 - 1925
- Name of Creator
- Language of MaterialEnglish.
- Physical DescriptionExpedition material (8 volumes, 641 leaves, 1 chart) and correspondence (Circa 45 leaves)
- Direct Link
Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
Sir Charles Seymour Wright, KCB, OBE, MC, MA, was born in Canada in 1887. He was educated at Upper Canada College and the University Toronto. He won a scholarship to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, England, undertaking research in cosmic rays at the Cavendish Laboratory. It was while studying in Cambridge that he met Douglas Mawson who had been part of the British Antarctic Expedition, 1907-1908 (leader Ernest Henry Shackleton). Wright applied to join the forthcoming British Antarctic Expedition, 1910-1913 (leader Robert Falcon Scott). He was accepted as physicist, and along with five other scientists spent the first winter at Cape Evans studying glacier ice, snow and sea ice. Magnetism, gravity and aurora were added to these studies the subsequent winter. Scott appointed Wright to be a member of the first supporting party on the polar journey with Edward Leicester Atkinson, Apsley Cherry-Garrard and Patrick Keohane. Wright was later part of the search party, which searched for Scott and the missing pole party. On 11 November 1912 he discovered the party's tent on the Ross Ice Shelf.
On returning to England, he lectured in cartography and surveying while also writing up his scientific work. In 1914, he joined the Royal Engineers as a second lieutenant and served in France. He rose to the position of General Staff Officer in wireless intelligence and was awarded the MC and OBE. Wright joined the Admiralty Research Department in 1919, becoming superintendent at Teddington ten years later. Between 1934 and 1936 he was director of scientific research at the Admiralty. He played an important part in the early development of radar and detection of magnetic mines and torpedoes. He received the KCB in 1946 and took the post of chief of the Royal Naval Scientific Service. He took up several positions in subsequent years, firstly as scientific advisor to the Admiral at the British Joint Services Mission, Washington DC, then in 1951, director of the Marine Physical Laboratory of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography at La Jolla, California. He joined the staff at the Pacific Naval Laboratory at Esquimaault, Canada in 1955.
Wright revisited Antarctica in 1960 and 1965. In 1967, he joined the Institute of Earth Sciences, University of British Columbia and Royal Roads Military College, Victoria, British Columbia. In 1969, he retired to Saltspring Island near Victoria in British Columbia. He died on 1 November 1975.
The material is split into two sub-fonds, that relating to the British Antarctic Expedition, 1910-1913 (leader Robert Falcon Scott) and correspondence respectively.
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Descriptions compiled by N. Boneham, Assistant Archivist with reference to The Polar Record, (1976) volume 18 number 114, p313-315 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
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