Adams, British Naval Franklin Search Expedition, 1850-1855

Scope and Content

  • MS 1115;BJ Journal, 12 October 1850 to 3 July 1851 [Kept ashore in and near St Michael's, Alaska] 1 volume, holograph
  • MS 1461/2;D Vocabulary book, Norton Sound Eskimo, 1851 [Compiled after winter ashore at Norton Sound, Alaska] 8 leaves, holograph

Administrative / Biographical History

The British Naval Franklin Search Expedition, 1850-1855 (leader Richard Collinson) was despatched to search for the missing British Naval Northwest Passage Expedition, 1845-1848 via Bering Strait. HMS Enterprise (Collinson) was accompanied by HMS Investigator (Robert McClure). The vessels became separated on the outward voyage; Collinson proceeded to Point Barrow, Alaska, where Clavering Enterprise was prevented by ice from passing into the Beaufort Sea. After wintering in Hong Kong, Collinson returned north and entered Prince of Wales Strait in August 1851, turning back after ice prevented progress. Returning to the southern end of Prince of Wales Strait a safe winter harbour was selected at Victoria Island. The following spring, Collinson led a sledge journey to the northern end of Prince of Wales Strait, exploring the north coast of Victoria Island as far as Wynniatt Bay before returning to the ship.

Enterprise was released from the ice in August 1852 and sailed south and east discovering that Prince Albert Sound to be an enclosed inlet and not a strait as previously assumed. A safe harbour was found in Cambridge Bay on the south coast of Victoria Island where the expedition wintered. In the spring of 1853, Collinson led a party of three sledges to search and explore along the east coast of Victoria Island where he found a note left by John Rae indicating that he had searched the same stretch of coast two years earlier. Forced to spend a third winter in the Arctic after bad weather impeded their progress on the return journey, the expedition eventually arrived in England in May 1855.



Related Material

The Institute holds several archival collections containing material relating to this expedition, See SPRI collections GB 015 Sir George Back, GB 015 John Rae, GB 015 Richard Collinson and GB 015 Francis Skead

The Scott Polar Research Institute holds a number of photographs, film, paintings and other illustrative material in the Picture Library, some of which covers this expedition. The catalogue can be searched on line by going to the Picture Library Database and selecting the Enter Polar Pictures link.

Additional Information

MS 1115;BJ Contains much ethnographic material

Corporate Names