Edwin De Haven collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of material relating to the United States Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842 (Senior Commander Charles Wilkes) and correspondence regarding the United States Franklin Search Expedition, 1950-1851 (led by De Haven)

Administrative / Biographical History

Edwin Jesse De Haven was born in 7 May 1816 in Philadelphia. He joined the United States Navy as a midshipman at the age of thirteen. After serving in various vessels in the West Indies and Brazil, he was posted to the Pacific in the sloop Falmouth in June 1837. Falmouth was in Callao at the same time that Charles Wilkes, Senior commander of the United States Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842, was there replenishing his crew. De Haven joined the expedition as Acting Master on board the sloop of war Vincennes, which sailed west along the coast of what is today called Wilkes Land, discovering and charting a series of landfalls and appearances of land between longitudes 160°East and 98°East. De Haven transferred to the sloop-of-war, Peacock in August 1840 where he served for the next eleven months as lieutenant. However, in rough weather in July 1841, Peacock ran aground and sank. On 2 September 1841, while serving on the brig Oregon (a replacement ship of the expedition), he received a lieutenant's commission. The expedition reached New York in June 1842.

After the expedition, De Haven saw action in the Mexican War in 1848, commanding the flagship Mississippi in the Gulf Squadron. In 1846, he was appointed to the United States Naval Observatory and Hydrographical Office, serving under Matthew Fontaine Maury, and whilst there he was chosen to lead the first Grinnell expedition, 1850-1851, to the Canadian Arctic in search of the lost British explorer, Sir John Franklin. This United States Franklin Search Expedition covered the Canadian Arctic archipelago combining with the British Naval Franklin Search Expedition, 1850-1851 (leader Horatio Thomas Austin) and the British Franklin Search Expedition, 1850-1851 (leader William Penny). De Haven's polar career ended after this expedition and he retired from the Navy at the age of forty-six due to failing health. He died three years later on 1 May 1865 in Philadelphia.


The collection is split into two sub-fonds covering the exploring expedition and the 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 The Polar Record, (July 1992) volume 28 number 166 p205-212 and Voyage to the Southern Ocean, letters of Lieutenant William Reynolds ed. A Hoffman Cleaner and E Jeffrey Stam, Tri-Service Press, Shrewsbury (1998) ISBN 0870213008 SPRI library (7) 91(08) [1838-1842] and Magnificent Voyagers H J Violan and C Margolis, Smithsonian Institute, Press, Washington (1985) SPRI library&42;7 91 (08) and Encyclopaedia of Antarctica and the Southern Oceans ed. Bernard Stonehouse, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester (2002) ISBN 0471986658 SPRI Library Shelf (7) and Arctic Exploration and development, 500 BC to 1915 Clive Holland, Garland Publishing, London. ISBN 0824076486 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.