Jules and Adele d'Urville collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of correspondence by both Jules and Adele d'Urville

Administrative / Biographical History

Jules Sebastien Cesar Dumont d'Urville was born on 23 May 1790 in Conde-sur-Noireau, France. He entered the Imperial Lycee in Caen in 1804, where he developed an interest in classics, botany and archaeology and was particularly fascinated by exploration and the voyages of discovery. In 1807, he entered the French Imperial Navy, but initially saw relatively little active duty. He married Adele Pepin in 1815. He was singled out for expeditions involving survey and exploration, and his subsequent journeys to the Mediterranean and Black Sea gave him the opportunity to make use of his classical education. While on a visit to the Greek Island of Milos, he discovered an exhumed statue that transpired to be the Venus de Milo and for his efforts in alerting the French museum authorities, he was awarded the Legion d'honneur and promoted to substantive lieutenant in 1821.

d'Urville was then given command of the French naval expedition (from Toulon), 1826-1829, in the corvette Astrolabe, to explore and chart the coasts of Australia, New Zealand and the western Pacific Ocean. Extensive zoological and botanical collections were made and specimens included Antarctic marine species, although the expedition did not visit the Antarctic. He led a further scientific expedition, the French naval expedition (from Toulon), 1837-1840, to explore the South Pacific islands and the Southern Ocean, with mapping magnetic variation an important objective. He sailed south with two corvettes, Astrolabe and Zelee, visiting the South Orkney Islands and the South Shetland Islands. In February 1838, he mistakenly reported Terre Louis-Phillippe as forming an island north of the Antarctic Peninsula (Trinity Peninsula is actually part of the Antarctic continent), and Terre Joinville, considered by him as a single landmass but now known to consist of several islands. In January 1840, he discovered and claimed for France a sector of the Antarctic mainland that he named Terre Adelie for his wife. d'Urville returned to France in November 1840 and was promoted to rear admiral, returning to naval duties. On 8 May 1842, he was killed in a railway accident, together with his wife and son.

Published work, Voyage au Pole Sud et dans l'Oceanie sur les Corvettes l'Astrolabe et La Zelee execute par ordre du roi pendant les annees 1837-1838-1839-1840 sous le commandement de M.J. Dumont d'Urville ... publiee par ordonnance de Sa Majeste (French) by Jules Sebastien Cesar Dumont d'Urville, Gide Paris (1841-54) SPRI Library Shelf Special Collection (7)91(08)[1837-1840 Dumont d'Urville]

Biographical work, Dumont d'Urville, le dernier grand marin de decouvertes (French) by Yves Jacob, Glenat Grenoble, France (1995) SPRI Library Shelf 92[Dumont d'Urville] and Dumont d'Urville by Jacques Guillon, Editions France-Empire Paris (1986) SPRI Library Shelf 92[Dumont d'Urville]


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 signs the item.

Descriptions compiled by N. Boneham, Assistant Archivist with assistance from R. Stancombe and reference to Dumont d'Urville, le dernier grand marin de decouvertes (French) by Yves Jacob, Glenat Grenoble, France (1995) SPRI Library Shelf 92[Dumont d'Urville] and Aurora ANARE Club Journal(March 1993) volume 12 number 3 p13-16 and Encyclopaedia of Antarctica and the Southern Oceans ed. Bernard Stonehouse, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester (2002) ISBN 0471986658 SPRI Library (7) 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.

Related Material

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