Richard Walter Richards collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of material relating to the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition [Ross Sea Party], 1914-1917 (Captains Mackintosh and Stenhouse), correspondence by Richards and biographical material.

Administrative / Biographical History

Richard Walter (Dick) Richards was born on 14 November 1893 in Bendigo, Australia. He attended Bendigo High School and studied mathematics and science at Melbourne University. He was lecturing at the Junior Technical School in Ballarat when he was selected as physicist on the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition [Ross Sea Party], 1914-1917 (leader Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton).

Richards was a member of the party which had the task of laying a chain of depots across the Ross Ice Shelf towards the Beardmore Glacier, providing supplies for Shackleton's trans-polar party. As one of the few capable of hauling during the gruelling southern journey, he was instrumental in saving the lives of several companions, an achievement for which he was awarded the Albert Medal (later exchanged for the George Cross). On his return to the base at Cape Evans in July 1916, Richards became seriously ill and was looked after by John Lachlan Cope.

After the expedition, he resumed teaching in Australia, and in 1946, was appointed principal of the School of Mines and Industry at Ballarat, a position he held until his retirement in 1958. He died on 8 May 1985 at Point Lonsdale, Australia.

Published work, Verbatim copy of diary kept by R.W. Richards from 23 February 1916 to 19 March 1916, during the Shackleton Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1914-1917, published in 1959, SPRI Library Shelf Special Collection (7)91(08)[1914-1917] and The Ross Sea shore party 1914-1917 by Richard W. Richards, Scott Polar Research Institute Special Publication Number 2, Bluntisham Books & The Erskine Press (2003) SPRI Library Shelf (7)91(08)[1914-1917 Shackleton]


The collection is split into three sub-fonds comprising of expedition material, correspondence and biographical material respectively.

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 Richard Walter Richards by David L. Harrowfield and R.G. McElrea in The Polar Record, (September 1985), volume 22 number 141 p722-724 and Encyclopaedia of Antarctica and the Southern Oceans ed. Bernard Stonehouse, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester (2002) ISBN 0471986658 SPRI Library (7) 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.


Further accessions possible.

Related Material

Material by or regarding Richards can also be found amongst the Joseph Russell Stenhouse collection (MS 1590)