Shackleton, Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition

Scope and Content


  • MS 1537/2/30/5-6;D Letter to Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton, 14 January 1914 from Misses Pegrine, Davey and Webster [Application for three sporty girls to join the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1914-1916 with reply from Shackleton]
  • MS 1537/3/7;BJ and MS 1537/3/7;MJ Diary, 1 January 1915 to 30 December 1915 [Missing pages 11 January to 15 October 1915] holograph and microfilm
  • MS 1537/2/32/5/1;D Page from diary, 27 to 28 October 1915, holograph
  • MS 1537/2/32/4;D Diary fragment, 21 November 1915 [Loss of Endurance] photostat
  • MS 1537/3/8;BJ and MS 1537/3/8;MJ Diary, 1 January 1916 to 18 March 1916 [31 December 1915 entry is on back page] holograph and microfilm
  • MS 1605/7/1;D Chapters from South [Titled Ocean Camp] photostat of holograph
  • MS 1605/7/2;D Chapters from South [Titled Ocean Camp continued, The March Between and Patience Camp] photostat of holograph
  • MS 1537/2/33/4/3;D Two pages of instructions for the men at Ocean Camp, written and signed by Ernest Shackleton, very fragile condition, holograph
  • MS 1537/2/32/5;D Letter to the committee of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, in the event of his not surviving the journey to South Georgia, 23 April 1916
  • MS 457;MJ Letter of instructions, 16 may 1916 [Written before crossing South Georgia] microfilm
  • MS 1537/2/32/18-32;D Telegrams (15) to organise a rescue of the men at Elephant Island, July to August 1916
  • MS 1605/6/1;BJ Ships Log, 12 July 1916 to 2 September 1916 [Third and Fourth relief expeditions to Elephant Island, Emma and Yelcho] holograph
  • MS 1537/2/32/17;D Endurance relief Committee, May 1916 [Proposals of committee with regard to the relief of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1914-1916 Weddell Sea Party]
  • MS 1603/93;D A typescript of a suggested film treatment of expedition, 1964 [Written by James and Margery Fisher includes correspondence with Edward Shackleton and suggested alterations to the script] typescript and holograph
  • MS 1603/96;D A story line for a film called Endurance by Duncan Carse sent to Edward Shackleton, typescript, 14 January 1986


  • MS 1537/4/6/1-3;D South Polar Chart, March 1910 [List of Bearings etc, Ross Sea route chart]
  • MS 1537/4/5/1;D Agreement (copy), 10 December 1914 [To be made accessible to the crew of the Aurora, New South Wales] holograph
  • MS 1537/4/3;D Diary, 20 December 1916 to 10 January 1917 [Pages 1-6] 6 leaves, holograph
  • MS 1537/4/3;D Report, 16 January 1917 [Search for Mackintosh, Spencer Smith and Haywood, written to Captain John King Davis, pages 84-86] 3 leaves, holograph
  • MS 1537/4/3;D Diary entries, 10 January 1917 [Summarises results of search, page 61-62] 2 leaves, holograph
  • MS 1537/4/4/1;D Report, 13 January 1917 [The loss of Captain Mackintosh and Mr Haywood with signed statements from E Wild, Reverend Richards, John Lachlan Cope, I O Gaze, Ernest Joyce, Andrew Keith Jack, and A Stevens, sent to John King Davis] autograph
  • MS 1537/4/3;D Plans for the memorial message on the cross for Æneas Lionel Acton Mackintosh, Reverend Spencer Smith and Victor Haywood [Pages 81-83 poem, reading in tribute, page 82]
  • MS 592;D Memorial to Lieutenant Æneas Lionel A Mackintosh, Victor Hayward and the Reverend Spencer-Smith, members of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1914-1917 Ross Sea Party, photocopy

Administrative / Biographical History

The Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, [Weddell Sea Party] 1914-1916 (led by Shackleton) set out to cross Antarctica. When Endurance was beset this goal was abandoned. The ship drifted for ten months before being crushed in the pack ice of the Weddell Sea and sinking in October 1915. The entire company camped on the ice before escaping in the lifeboats to Elephant Island, South Shetland Islands. From there Shackleton, Thomas Crean, Frank Worsley, Timothy McCarthy, Harold McNish and J Vincent then sailed 1450Km to South Georgia in the James Caird. Arriving at South Georgia Shackleton, Crean and Worsley made the first major trek across the island to the whaling station at Stromness. The fourth attempt at reliving the company at Elephant Island was successful.

The Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, [Ross Sea Party] 1914-1917 (Captains Mackintosh and Stenhouse) was organised by Shackleton to lay depots for the Endurance party on their sledge across the continent. The Aurora visited Macquarie Island and provisioned the Commonwealth Meteorological Expedition there before continuing on to the Ross Sea. Prevented from creating a base at Cape Royds Aurora sailed to Cape Evans where it was intended the ship would winter. Ten men were left ashore when Aurora was driven from her mooring in a blizzard. The shore party laid deposits for Shackleton's expected party towards the Beardmore Glacier. The ship was beset for ten months in the Ross Sea before reaching New Zealand. Of the ten men left ashore, three including ships captain Æneas Lionel Acton Mackintosh died.

After returning from the Weddell Sea Shackleton joined the relief expedition to rescue the men left behind.

The collection comprises of diaries, instructions and ephemera relating to both the Weddell and Ross Sea parties.



Related Material

The Institute holds several archival collections containing material relating to these expeditions, see SPRI collection GB 15 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1914-1916 [Weddell Sea Party] and GB 15 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1914-1917 [Ross Sea Party] for more information.