Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of journals from the British Naval Expedition, 1839-1843 (leader James Clark Ross) to the Antarctic and correspondence by Hooker.

Administrative / Biographical History

Joseph Dalton Hooker was born in Halesworth, Suffolk on 30 June 1817, the son of William Jackson Hooker, a distinguished botanist. After training and practising medicine in Glasgow, he was appointed assistant surgeon and botanist to the British Naval Expedition, 1839-1843, sailing with James Clark Ross on board the flagship HMS Erebus. The voyage was organised primarily to conduct a series of magnetic observations in the Southern Hemisphere and a geophysical observatory was established in Hobart. Along with Robert McCormick, Hooker made a world-wide collection of botanical specimens, including many from southern oceanic islands, providing material for his classic report Flora Antarctica (1844-1847).

From 1845 to 1847, Hooker acted as botanist to the Geological Survey. He undertook further expeditions to Nepal, India, Morocco, the United States of America and the Middle East, giving him the opportunity to collect more botanical specimens. Between 1865 and 1885 he was Director of Kew Gardens, a position that his father held before him. Hooker received the Founder's Medal of the Royal Geographical Society for his services to scientific geography. He died on 10 December 1911.

Published works The botany of the Antarctic voyage of HM Discovery ships Erebus and Terror in the years 1839-1843, under the command of Captain Sir James Clark Ross, Kt, RN, FRS &apm;c. Flora Antarcticaby Joseph Dalton Hooker, Reeve Brothers London (1844)(1847) SPRI Library Shelf Special Collection Folio (7)91(08)[1839-1843]

Biographical works Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker, traveller and plant collector by Ray Desmond, Antique Collectors Club, Royal Botanic Gardens, Woodbridge (1999) SPRI Library Shelf 92[Hooker, J.D.] The Hookers of Kew, 1785-1911 by Mea Allan, Michael Joseph, London (1967) SPRI Library Shelf 92[Hooker, J.D.]


The collection is grouped into two sub-fonds covering the expedition and general correspondence.

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 Geographical Journal (1912) volume 39 number 2 p165-168 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

From the Institute's GB 15 James Clark Ross collection :

  • MS 604/1-25;D Letters (25), 1844 to 1847 and 1856
  • MS 621/1/1-4;D Letters (4), 1827, 1839 and 1840 [Mainly relating to botany]