Johan Hjort collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of correspondence by Hjort to polar explorer William Speirs Bruce (leader of the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition, 1902-1904).

Administrative / Biographical History

Johan Hjort was born in Christiania [Oslo] in 1869. He was educated at the University of Munich, graduating with a doctorate in 1892. In 1893, Hjort was appointed curator of the University Zootomical Museum and the following year became a research fellow in fisheries, studying physiological chemistry at Jena from 1895 to 1896 in order to widen his knowledge. Returning to Norway in 1897, he was appointed director of the Biological Station at Drobak, organizing research into the development of the Norwegian fisheries.

In 1899, Hjort suggested that the Norwegian government should build a marine research vessel, and in 1900, he led the Norwegian Oceanographic Expedition in the steamship Michael Sars to conduct a wide range of physical oceanographic, marine biological and fisheries research investigations in the Norwegian Sea. Sailing to the north coast of Iceland and northwest toward the pack ice of the Greenland Sea, the scientists on board conducted a thorough study of the waters around Jan Mayen and landed on the island at Tommerbukta.

Hjort helped to develop the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, established in 1902, and in 1906, became chief director of fisheries in Norway. In 1910, he was invited by Sir John Murray to lead a deep-sea expedition to the North Atlantic, publishing the expedition results with Murray in the marine biology classic The depths of the ocean in 1912.

Between 1914 and 1915, he was asked by the Canadian government to organize and conduct fishery investigations. Resigning from his post as director of fisheries in Norway during the First World War, he undertook studies in Copenhagen and Cambridge before returning to Norway in 1921 as professor of marine biology at the University of Oslo. He initiated scientific studies of whales and the whaling industry, becoming chairman of the first Norwegian Whaling Committee in 1924, and serving as chairman of the International Whaling Committee from 1926 to 1939. He held the post of president of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea from 1939 until his death in 1948.


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 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 Johan Hjort in memoriam by Johan T. Ruud in Norsk Hvalfangst-Tidende (1948) volume 37 number 11 p441-451

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.

Personal Names