Henrik Johan Bull collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of correspondence by Bull to William Speirs Bruce regarding the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition, 1902-1904 (led by Bruce).

Administrative / Biographical History

Henrik Johan Bull was born on 13 October 1844 in Stokke, Norway, the son of the ice-captain Cornelius Bull. He was educated at Tonsberg Borgerskole, leaving to enter business in 1859. He worked first in Tonsberg before moving with his wife to Australia, where he became aware of the possibilities of Antarctic whaling. He was working for a shipping company in Melbourne, Australia, when he managed to persuade the Norwegian whaling entrepreneur, Captain Svend Foyn, to finance an expedition to investigate the possibilities for whaling in the Southern Ocean.

Setting out in the whaling ship Antarctic from Tonsberg on 20 September 1893, the Norwegian Sealing and Whaling Exploration, 1893-1895 (Captain Leonard Kristensen), hunted for elephant seals on Iles Kerguelen and for whales off Campbell Island. Heading south from New Zealand, Antarctic was caught up in the pack ice from December 1894 to early January 1895. The ship broke free on 14 January and succeeded in entering the Ross Sea. On 24 January 1895, Bull and a small party landed at Cape Adare, thought at the time to be the first landing on the Antarctic continent, though actually preceded by several others. Antarctic returned to Australia on 12 March 1895 and to Tonsberg five months later.

After the expedition, Bull continued to work in Australia. In 1906, he went to Iles Crozet on board the sealer Catharine and was marooned on the islands for some time after the ship was wrecked. He returned to Norway sometime after 1910, where he published an account of his family history in 1917 and further articles in 1919. He died in June 1930.

Published work The cruise of the Antarctic to the south polar regions by Henrik J. Bull edited by David W.H. Walton, Bluntisham Books and the Paradigm Press Bungay (1984) SPRI Library Shelf (7)91(08)[1894-1895 Kristensen]


The correspondence 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 The cruise of the Antarctic to the south polar regions by Henrik J. Bull edited by David W.H. Walton, Bluntisham Books and the Paradigm Press Bungay (1984) SPRI Library Shelf (7)91(08)[1894-1895 Kristensen]

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

The Scott Polar Research Institute holds a number of photographs, film and other illustrative material in the Picture Library. This material includes a photograph of Bull. The catalogue can be searched on line by going to the Picture Library Database and selecting the Enter Polar Pictures link.