Andrew Nelson collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of material relating to the Discovery Investigations, (1924-1951) 1930-1933 and correspondence by Nelson.

Administrative / Biographical History

Andrew Laidlaw Nelson was born in 1904 at Clydebank, Scotland. He joined the Merchant Navy and was a lieutenant in the Royal Naval Reserve when he joined the Discovery Committee, serving as navigator, first officer and finally captain of Discovery II between 1929 and 1935. In addition to these duties, he was responsible for organizing surveys of the South Sandwich Islands, the South Orkney Islands and part of the South Shetland Islands. He was co-author, with Stanley Wells Kemp, of a report on the South Sandwich Islands in the Discovery Reports. A skilled navigator and scientific observer, his sounding charts contributed much of what is known of the bottom topography of the Southern Ocean.

During the Second World War, he served in the Royal Navy, retiring with the rank of captain. After the war, he was employed as an oceanographer at Lamont Geological Observatory, a division of Columbia University. He died on 26 August 1958 in New Jersey.

Published work 'The South Sandwich Islands' by Stanley Wells Kemp and A.L. Nelson Discovery Reports 1931


The collection is split into two sub-fonds covering expedition material and correspondence 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Assistant Archivist with assistance from R. Stancombe and reference to Robert Keith Headland Antarctic Chronology, unpublished corrected revision of Chronological list of Antarctic expeditions and related historical events, (1 December 2001) Cambridge University Press (1989) ISBN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 The Polar Record volume 9 number 61 January 1959 p377 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 and Encyclopaedia of Antarctica and the Southern Oceans ed. Bernard Stonehouse, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester (2002) ISBN 0471986658 SPRI Library (7)

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.