John Wright collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of material relating to three Arctic expeditions, Cambridge University Expedition to Iceland, 1934, The Oxford University Arctic Expedition, 1935-1936 and the British Arctic Expedition, 1937-1938 (leader Haig-Thomas)

Administrative / Biographical History

John Wilfred Wright was born on 21 May 1914. He was educated at Lancing College and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he read mathematics and geography. In 1934, he led the Cambridge University Expedition to Iceland, organized to map a small glacier-dammed lake at the edge of the ice cap in southwest Iceland and to make soundings. The following year, he returned north on the Oxford University Arctic Expedition, 1935-1936 (leader Alexander Glen), during which he conducted a survey of parts of Nordaustlandet. He next participated in the British Arctic Expedition, 1937-1938 (leader David Haig-Thomas), conducting a topographic survey of the southeast coast of Ellesmere Island with Richard Hamilton. On his return from the Arctic, he joined the Sudan Survey, later serving with the Sudan Defence Force and the British Army during the Second World War. After the war, he resumed work with the Sudan Survey until 1956, later serving as chief surveyor with Hunting Aerosurveys in the Middle East. Returning to England to work for the Directorate of Overseas Surveys at Telworth, he later became its deputy director before retiring in 1977. He died on 18 July 2001.

Published work Ground and air survey for field scientists by John W. Wright, Clarendon Press Oxford (1982) SPRI Library Shelf 528


The collection is split into three sub-fonds comprising of material elating to each expedition

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 Arctic, exploration and development c500 BC to 1915, an encyclopaedia by Clive Holland, Garland Publishing, London (1994) and Exploring Polar Frontiers, a historical encyclopaedia by William Mills, San Diego and Oxford, 2003 and 'John Wilfred Wright' by Geoffrey Hattersley-Smith in Polar Record volume 38 number 205 April 2002 p183-192

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 these expeditions. The catalogue can be searched on line by going to the Picture Library Database and selecting the Enter Polar Pictures link.

Personal Names