Charles Osmer collection

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of correspondence by Osmer to his wife written in HMS Erebus during the early stages of the British Naval Northwest Passage Expedition, 1845-1848 (leader Sir John Franklin)

Administrative / Biographical History

In 1819, Charles Hamilton Osmer entered the Navy as a clerk, serving in HMS Blossom on the British Naval Exploring Expedition, 1825-1828 (leader Frederick William Beechey), instructed by the Admiralty to await the arrival of the expeditions of William Edward Parry and John Franklin, and to conduct exploratory and scientific work in the Pacific Ocean and Bering Strait. Setting sail from Spithead in May 1825, the expedition reached Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy in June 1826 where they learned that Parry's expedition had already returned home. The following month, the expedition proceeded to Chamisso Island in Alaska from where an advance party reached as far east as Point Barrow on 23 August, missing Franklin by only five days. After wintering in the Pacific, they sailed north to the Bering Strait in the summer of 1827, but finding no trace of Franklin, returned to England by way of Cape Horn.

Osmer was appointed paymaster and purser in HMS Erebus on the British Naval Northwest Passage Expedition, 1845-1848 (leader Sir John Franklin), sent to search for a Northwest Passage beyond Lancaster Sound and Barrow Strait in the unexplored region south-west of Barrow Strait. Sailing from London in company with HMS Terror in May 1845, the expedition was last seen heading for Lancaster Sound by two whalers in northern Baffin Bay in late July 1845. After that, the expedition disappeared and Europeans never again saw its members alive. The two vessels had become beset north of King William Island, where they had spent two winters between September 1846 and April 1848. Franklin died on 11 June 1847 and the command had devolved on Francis Crozier. Abandoning the two vessels on 22 April 1848, the 105 survivors led by Crozier set out toward Back River. All perished during the journey.

Arrangement

The correspondence is arranged chronologically

Conditions Governing Access

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.

Note

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 Arctic, exploration and development c500 BC to 1915, an encyclopaedia by Clive Holland Garland Publishing, London (1994) and Exploring Polar Frontiers, a historical encyclopaedia by William Mills San Diego and Oxford, 2003 and British polar exploration and research a historical and medallic record with biographies 1818-1999 by Lieutenant Colonel Neville W Poulsom and Rear Admiral John A L Myres, Savannah Publications, London (2000) SPRI Library Shelf 737.2

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.

Accruals

Further accessions possible

Related Material

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