John Scott Keltie collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of correspondence by Keltie primarily as secretary of the Royal Geographical Society. The correspondence relates to the Antarctic expeditions of William Speirs Bruce, Robert Falcon Scott, Ernest Henry Shackleton, Road Amundsen and John Lachlan Cope, there is some mention of other polar explorers and matters relating to the Royal Geographical Society.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Scott Keltie was born in Dundee in 1840. He was educated at St. Andrews University but left before completing his degree to study in Edinburgh for the United Presbyterian Church. In 1861, he joined the publishing firm of Messrs. W&R Chambers, working on publications including Chamber's Encyclopaedia and A History of the Scottish Highlands, Highland Clans and Highland Regiments (1874).

In 1871, he joined the editorial staff of Messrs Macmillan in London, becoming sub-editor of Nature in 1873 and editor of The Statesman's Yearbook in 1884.

Keltie's long association with the Royal Geographical Society began in 1884 when he was appointed inspector of geographical education, publishing an extensive report on the subject in 1886. In 1885, he was appointed librarian of the society, and assistant secretary in 1892. The new monthly Geographical Journal appeared in 1893 and was under Keltie's editorship until 1915, and joint editorship until 1917.

He resigned as secretary of the Royal Geographical Society in 1915, was elected to the council in 1917 and became vice-president of the society in 1921. He was knighted in 1918 and died in London in 1927.


The correspondence is arranged alphabetically by recipient.

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Assistant Archivist with assistance from R. Stancombe and reference to Robert Keith Headland Antarctic Chronology, unpublished corrected revision of Chronological list of Antarctic expeditions and related historical events, (1 December 2001) Cambridge University Press (1989) ISBN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 Dictionary of National Biography, 1922-1930, with an index covering the years 1901-1930 in one alphabetical series, Oxford University Press, London (1937)

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.