Joseph Wiggins collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of correspondence by Wiggins to the explorer Benjamin Leigh Smith regarding the Kara Sea

Administrative / Biographical History

Joseph Wiggins was born in Norwich in 1832. He joined his uncle Joseph Potts in Sunderland in 1847 where Potts was a ship owner. At the age of 27 Wiggins was master of Victoria the second largest steamer in the world.

Wiggins became interested in the possibilities of opening up a northern sea route to Russia. From 1874 onwards he sailed north in a variety of vessels with this in mind. He commanded the British Kara Sea Expedition, 1874, 1875, 1876-1877, the British Kara Sea Trading Expeditions, 1878, 1887, 1888, 1889, and 1894-1895, 1895-1896 and the British Russian Kara Sea Trading Expedition, 1893. He died in September 1905


The correspondence to Leigh Smith is arranged chronologically

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 'Joseph Wiggins' by Ian Stone in Arctic 1994 volume 47 p 405-410

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