Papers of David Ferguson, c1857-1936, mining engineer, Glasgow, Scotland

Scope and Content

  • Notes on mining expeditions (1888-1925);
  • Education records (1905-1907);
  • Notes on geological expeditions (1912-1915);
  • Letter Books (1919-1936);
  • Miscellaneous (early 20th century).

Administrative / Biographical History

David Ferguson , a Mining Engineer, was born in Glasgow c. 1857  and died 8 March 1936  . He matriculated as a mature student at the Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College (now the University of Strathclyde) in 1904 and took classes in Technical Chemistry (from 1905-1906) and Electrical Engineering (1906-1907). He also studied at the University of Glasgow between 1905  and 1908  and took classes in geology, mineralogy. However, Ferguson did not graduate from either institution and possibly only took the classes to further his work.

Prior to his university career he worked as a surveyor and mining engineer, although he is also known as a geologist and Antarctic explorer. Through his work as a mining surveyor and engineer Ferguson kept detailed notes of both his work, such as calculations, maps and field notes, and his travels and some volumes read as travel journals. They detail his visits to Africa, Iran, Newfoundland and locations in Great Britain.

The Hunterian Museum's largest collection of Antarctic rocks were collected by Ferguson on geological survey expeditions commissioned by Christian Salvesen and company between 1911 and 1915. During this time Ferguson made many notes which include hand-drawn maps of the areas that he visited. In fact, Ferguson produced the first detailed geological mapping of Antarctica in 1911-12 during the First Salvesen Prospecting Expedition, and was among the first to geologically investigate the South Shetland Islands, Graham Land and the Belgica Strait.

His papers, which for many years were thought to be lost, give further details of his expeditions and surveys. Apart from the material held in the archive, relatively little is known of Ferguson. He appeared to work with smaller expeditions and as a result did not achieve notoriety as an Antarctic geologist, although this does not make his discoveries and collections any less important.


Arranged chronologically.

Access Information


Acquisition Information

ACCN 2500 Bank of Scotland, Sighthill, Edinburgh

ACCN 3155 HBOS Group Archives, Edinburgh

Other Finding Aids

Digital file level list available in searchroom.

Alternative Form Available

No known copies.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

The letter books and some notebooks are badly water damaged, but are mostly comprehensible. A number of the notebooks are fragile and in poor condition through mould damage.

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the Archivist.

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 0248 procedures.

Custodial History

The materials were held by the Bank of Scotland Archives, received by the bank through Ferguson's estate, and were transferred to the Glasgow University Archives as Ferguson was a former student of the University.


None expected

Related Material

Various correspondence relating to Ferguson is held at the Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge (collection reference GB15 David Ferguson), and photographs taken by Ferguson are held as part of the Archives of Messrs. Christian Salvesen Limited, held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives (collection reference GB 237 Coll-36). Further information can be found in M.S. notes from John Faithfull, part of the Hunterian Museum's David Ferguson donor file.

Location of Originals

This material is original.


No known publications using this material

Additional Information

Description compiled in line with the following international standards: International Council on Archives,ISAD(G) Second Edition, September 1999 and National Council on Archives,Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names

Scotland is the location of all place names in the administrative/biographical history element, unless otherwise stated.

Fonds level description compiled by Emma Yan, Assistant Archivist (Cataloguing), 24 October 2007. Lower level description catalogued by Emma Yan, Assistant Archivist, 24 October 2007

Amended by Emma Yan, Assistant Archivist (Cataloguing), 27 February 2008