Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition [Weddell Sea Party]

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of press cuttings, crew agreement and reports regarding the expedition.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, [Weddell Sea Party] 1914-1916 (leader Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton) set out to cross the Antarctic continent. When Endurance was beset this goal was abandoned. The ship drifted for ten months before being crushed in the pack ice of the Weddell Sea and sinking in 1915. The entire company (28 men) spent five months on the ice before escaping in the three lifeboats to Elephant Island, South Shetland Islands. Two of the lifeboats were made into a shelter for the company while Shackleton, Thomas Crean, Frank Worsley, Timothy McCarthy, Harold McNish and John Vincent sailed 1450Km to South Georgia in the James Caird. Arriving at South Georgia Shackleton, Crean and Worsley made the first major trek across the island to the whaling station at Stromness. The steam tug Yelcho rescued the men on Elephant island in August 1916.

Expedition members, Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton (Leader), William Bakewell (Able Seaman), Perce Blackborow (Steward, Stowaway), Alfred Cheetham (3rd Officer), Robert Selbie Clark (Biologist), Thomas Crean (2nd Officer), Charles J Green (Cook), Lionel Greenstreet (1st Officer), Ernest Holness (Fireman), Walter Ernest How (Able Seaman), Hubert Hudson (Navigator), James Francis [Frank] Hurley (Photographer), Dr Leonard Duncan Albert Hussey (Meteorologist), Reginald William James (Physicist), A J Kerr (2nd Engineer), Timothy McCarthy (Able Seaman), Thomas McLeod (Able Seaman), Dr James A Mcilroy (Surgeon), Dr Alexander Hepburne Macklin (Surgeon), Henry [Harry] McNish (Carpenter), George E Marston (Artist), Thomas Hans Orde-Lees (Motor Expert), Louis Rickinson (1st Engineer), William Stevenson (Fireman), John Vincent (Able Seaman), John Robert Francis [Frank] Wild (2nd In Command), James Mann Wordie (Geologist), Frank Worsley (Captain)


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 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 South by Ernest Henry Shackleton, 1919 SPRI Library (7)91(08)[1907-1909]

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. These photographs include those taken by James Francis Hurley.


South by Ernest Henry Shackleton recounts the expedition, copies are available at the Institutes Library (7)91(08)[1914-1916]