Charles Bulkley collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of material relating to the Western Union Telegraph Expedition, 1865-1867 (led by Bulkley)

Administrative / Biographical History

Charles S Bulkley was a military engineer who served as chief of the United States Signal Service during the American Civil War. In 1864, he was sent to San Francisco as a company representative for the Western Union Telegraph Company to organize the US Western Union Telegraph Expedition, 1865-1867. The aim of the expedition was to survey a route for, and to construct, a telegraph line between the United States and Europe by way of British and Russian America, Bering Strait, and Siberia. The expedition was organized on a quasi-military basis under the general command of Bulkley (who served as engineer-in-chief), and divided into four divisions. Bulkley was responsible for hiring a fleet of ships, directing the purchase of equipment and supplies, and recruiting technicians and engineers. In 1867, news that North Atlantic Telegraph Company had successfully laid a cable from Newfoundland to Ireland the previous year caused the Western Union Telegraph Company to abandon its enterprise. Nevertheless, the scientific and geographical results of the expedition, especially in Alaska, were of great value.


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 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 University of Alaska

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

Personal Names