Elbo, Scottish Spitsbergen Syndicate Expedition, 1948

Scope and Content

  • MS 270/1;BJ Diary, 10 August to 2 September 1948, 1 volume, holograph
  • MS 270/2;D List, undated [Subject headings used in compiling diary] 3 leaves, typescript

Administrative / Biographical History

In 1909, William Speirs Bruce founded the Scottish Spitsbergen Syndicate, a mineral exploration company to locate and assay the potential of the Svalbard archipelago for the exploitation of minerals such as coal, gypsum, iron ore, marble and possibly petroleum. The initial work was to be primarily scientific, but good commercial prospects were held out as incentives to shareholders in the company. The Syndicate attracted notable Edinburgh and Glasgow businessmen, who speculated in the venture, and young Scottish academics, who found that Svalbard provided an exciting field venue for their work in geology and surveying. Despite seven expeditions between 1909 and 1922, no commercial mining operations were conducted by the Syndicate. By 1920, the Syndicate has filed claims to mining rights for 7,709 square kilometres, much more than any other company. To protect these claims, Bruce petitioned the British government to re-assert British rights to the sovereign control over the archipelago, but there was little real interest in Whitehall for such an annexation. Svalbard's position in international law was not resolved finally until the Spitsbergen Treaty was signed in Paris in 1920, and Norway became the sovereign power in 1925.



Related Material

The Institute hold several archival collections containing material on expeditions by the Scottish Spitsbergen Syndicate