Gerlache de Gomery collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of letters written by de Gomery to fellow polar explorers including material on the Belgian Antarctic Expedition, 1897-1899.

Administrative / Biographical History

Baron Adrien Victor Joseph de Gerlache de Gomery was born in 1866 into a wealthy family in Hasselt, Belgium. He joined the Royal Belgian Navy, taking particular interest in scientific research. In 1895, he began planning, organizing and raising funds for a southern polar expedition, eventually leading the Belgian Antarctic Expedition, 1897-1899. The expedition ship Belgica visited Tierra del Fuego before continuing to the South Shetland Islands. The ship was beset by pack ice and drifted south of Peter I y for 12 months, the first exploring vessel to winter in the Southern Ocean with its crew becoming the first men wintering south of the Antarctic Circle. A comprehensive scientific programme was undertaken and detailed collections were made.

After this expedition, de Gerlache led a zoological expedition to the Persian Gulf. He made a number of significant expeditions to the Arctic, among them Greenland in 1905 and 1909 and the Barents and Kara Seas in 1907. He did not return to Antarctica, but maintained polar interests and assisted others, including Jean Baptiste Charcot and Ernest Henry Shackleton, with preparations for polar work. He died in 1934.

Published works, Voyage de la Belgica, Quinze mois dans l'Antarctique by Adrien Victor Joseph de Gerlache de Gomery, translated by Maurice Raraty, Bluntisham Books Bluntisham, England(1998) SPRI Library Shelf (7)91(08)[1897-1899 de Gerlache]

Biographies, Adrien de Gerlache, pionnier maritime, 1866-1934 (French) by Charles Pergameni Editorial-Office (1935) SPRI Library Shelf 92[Gerlache,] and Les Gerlache. Trois generations d'explorateurs polaires (French) by Charles E. Schelfhout, Editions de la Dyle Sint-Martens-Latem, Belgium (1996) SPRI Library Shelf Folio 92[Gerlache]


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 SPRI Library Antarctic Biographies Card Index and Encyclopaedia of Antarctica and the Southern Oceans ed. Bernard Stonehouse, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester (2002) ISBN 0471986658 SPRI Library (7) 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 Garland Publishing, London (1994) ISBN number 0824076486

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

See SPRI collection GB 015 Roald Amundsen (MS 1119;D Letter, 13 March 1897)