Boy Scouts Association collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of correspondence regarding the steam yacht Discovery, expedition ship to Robert Falcon Scott's British National Antarctic Expedition, 1901-1904.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Boy Scout Association was founded in 1907 by Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell. After serving in military campaigns in India and Africa, in 1899 Baden-Powell had written Aids to Scouting, a manual designed to train soldiers as army scouts. On his return from South Africa in 1903, he had been surprised to discover that the manual was popular with boys and teachers. After consultation with Sir William Smith, the founder of the Boy's Brigade, and other leaders of youth groups, he organized a trial camp on Brownsea Island in 1907, selecting boys from varied social classes and dividing them into smaller units or patrols. Based on this experiment, Baden-Powell wrote Scouting for Boys, published in 1908 in six fortnightly parts.

In 1910, he resigned from the army to devote his time to scouting, travelling throughout the British Empire to ensure that the main principles of his scheme were observed. In 1920, the first international rally for scouts [Jamboree] was held in London.

In 1936, the expedition ship of the British National Antarctic Expedition, 1901-1904 (leader Robert Falcon Scott), Discovery, was given to the Boy Scout Association as a training ship for Sea Scouts and as a memorial to Scott. Due to the high cost of maintenance, the ship was offered unconditionally to the Admiralty in 1953.

Boy Scouts have participated in several polar expeditions, notably with Ernest Henry Shackleton in Quest on the Shackleton-Rowett Antarctic Expedition, 1921-1922, and with Richard Evelyn Byrd in the United States Antarctic Expedition, 1928-1930.


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 Boy Scouts and Discovery Point and Dictionary of National Biography, 1941-1950, with an index covering the years 1901-1950 in one alphabetical series, Oxford University Press, London (1959) 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.

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.

Corporate Names