Augustine Courtauld collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of material relating to three Arctic expeditions, the Cambridge East Greenland Expedition, 1926, the British Arctic Air Route Expedition, 1930-1931 (leader Henry Watkins) and the British East Greenland Expedition, 1935-1936 and correspondence by Courtauld with the geographer and meteorologist Hugh Robert Mill

Administrative / Biographical History

Augustine Courtauld was born on 26 August 1904 at Bocking, Essex. He was educated at Charterhouse and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he studied engineering and geography. Following his graduation in 1926, he joined the Cambridge East Greenland Expedition (leader James Wordie) as photographer. The party spent the summer surveying the coastline of the Franz Josefs Fjord area of east Greenland. In 1929, Courtauld returned north with the Cambridge East Greenland Expedition (leader James Wordie), assisting R C Wakefield in the survey of Nordenskilds Gletscher and Petermann Bjoerg.

Courtauld joined the British Arctic Air Route Expedition, 1930-1931 (leader Henry Watkins), organized to investigate the possibilities of an air route between Britain and Canada across Greenland. Sailing in Quest from London in July 1930, the expedition reached Angmagssalik in East Greenland, where a base camp was established. The following month a meteorological station was established on the ice cap from which continuous meteorological observations were conducted. Between December 1930 and May 1931, Courtauld spent five months alone at the station conducting meteorological observations. He was awarded the Polar Medal for his achievements in 1932. His final visit to Greenland was with the British East Greenland Expedition, 1935-1936 (leader Lawrence Wager), organized to explore the Watkins Bjerge in the Kangerdlugssuak district. During the Second World War, Courtauld served with the Royal Navy Voluntary Reserve and, in later years, became successively deputy lieutenant and High Sheriff of Essex. Between 1948 and 1951, he served as honorary secretary of the Royal Geographical Society. He died on 3 March 1959 in London.

Published work Man the ropes by Augustine Courtauld, Hodder and Stoughton London (1957) SPRI Library Shelf 92[Courtauld, A.] From the ends of the Earth, an anthology of polar writings by Augustine Courtauld, Oxford University Press London (1958) SPRI Library Shelf (2)91(091)[pub.1958]


The collection is split into four sub-fonds comprising of 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 Arctic, exploration and development c500 BC to 1915, an encyclopaedia by Clive Holland, Garland Publishing, London (1994) and Exploring Polar Frontiers, a historical encyclopaedia by William Mills, San Diego and Oxford, 2003 and Dictionary of National Biography, 1951-1960, Oxford University Press London (1971) and Polar Record volume 9 number 63 September 1959 p609-610

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 this expedition. The catalogue can be searched on line by going to the Picture Library Database and selecting the Enter Polar Pictures link.