John Davis collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of material relating to the United States Sealing Voyage, 1820-1821.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Davis commanded Huron on the United States sealing voyage, 1820-1822, sailing from New Haven in March 1820. Davis met the schooner Huntress, commanded by Christopher Burdick, at the Falkland Islands before sailing together to the South Shetland Islands, where they anchored at Yankee Harbour, Greenwich Island, and met up with five vessels from the United States sealing voyage (from Stonington), 1820-1821 (leader Benjamin Pendleton). In February 1821, Davis and Burdick, in separate voyages, took the shallop Cecilia to the Hughes Bay area. Davis landed on the Antarctic Peninsula on 7 February 1821, the first documented landing on the continent, writing in his logbook 'I think this Southern Land to be a Continent' and reporting a large stretch of coast with no sealing grounds. Huron and Cecilia wintered at the Falkland Islands in 1821, returning to the South Shetland Islands for the 1821-1822 summer. Little is known of his subsequent life.


The collection 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 The voyage of the Huron and Huntress, the American sealers and the discovery of the continent of Antarctica by Edouard A. Stackpole, The Marine Historical Association, Inc. Mystic Connecticut (1955) SPRI Library Shelf (7)91(08)[1820-1821] and Robert Keith Headland Antarctic Chronology, unpublished corrected revision of Chronological list of Antarctic expeditions and related historical events,(1 December 2001) Cambridge University Press (1989) ISBN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

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