Ships, Endurance collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises for plans for Endurance.

Administrative / Biographical History

Endurance was a wooden barquentine of 300 tons built between 1912 and 1913 by Framnaes Mek Verstad at Sandefjord, Norway. Originally named Polaris, she was commissioned by the ship owner Lars Christensen and the polar explorer Adrien Victor Joseph de Gerlache de Gomery for tourist cruises to the Arctic. In 1914, she was purchased by Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton for the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1914-1917, in which he planned to cross Antarctica between the Ross and Weddell Seas. Shackleton intended that the ship, which he re-named Endurance, would land a sledging party in the Weddell Sea, while a sealer, Aurora, would land a depot-laying party at McMurdo Sound in the Ross Sea.

Setting out from Plymouth on 8 August 1914 under the command of Frank Arthur Worsley, Endurance sailed via Madeira and Buenos Aires before arriving at South Georgia. On 5 December 1914, she proceeded towards the Weddell Sea, where she became beset in heavy pack ice in early January 1915 and drifted helplessly for nine months. In October 1915, after her wooden hull had been crushed beyond repair, Shackleton ordered the crew to abandon ship, and on 21 November 1915, Endurance finally sank. The spar, which is the only surviving relic of Endurance and was used as a distress signal flagpole by the Elephant Island party, hangs in the Shackleton Memorial Library at the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge.


The collection is arranged in the order it was deposited at the institute.

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Assistant Archivist with assistance from R. Stancombe and reference to Robert Keith Headland Antarctic Chronology, unpublished corrected revision of Chronological list of Antarctic expeditions and related historical events, (1 December 2001) Cambridge University Press (1989) ISBN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 and The Oxford companion to ships and the sea, edited by Peter Kemp, Oxford University Press, London (1976) SPRI Library Shelf 629.12 and Ships of discovery and exploration by Lincoln P. Paine, Mariner Books, Boston (2000) SPRI Library Shelf 629.12[2000] and Encyclopaedia of Antarctica and the Southern Oceans ed. Bernard Stonehouse, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester (2002) ISBN 0471986658 SPRI Library (7) and Shackleton by Roland Huntford, Hodder and Stoughton, London (1985) SPRI Library Shelf 92[Shackleton, E.H.]

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.