Henry Hartstene collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of material relating to the United States Exploring expedition, 1838-1842 (Senior commander Charles Wilkes) and correspondence in regard to the United States Relief Expedition, 1855 (led by Hartstene) sent to find the United States Franklin Search Expedition, 1853-1855 (Leader Elisha Kent Kane).

Administrative / Biographical History

Henry J Hartstene served on the United States Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842 (Senior commander Charles Wilkes), as lieutenant on board Porpoise from February 1839 to March 1839. With a fleet of six vessels, the expedition was commissioned on a world voyage of hydrography and exploration that included forays into the Southern Ocean. Arriving at Tierra del Fuego in February 1839, the squadron divided and Wilkes in Porpoise, accompanied by Sea Gull, went south and east to the South Shetland Islands and Antarctic Peninsula. During April 1839, the six vessels left southern waters for Valparaiso, Chile, sailing to Callao shortly afterwards. Transferring to the store ship Relief on arrival at Callao, Hartstene left the expedition and sailed home to the United States, arriving in New York on 28 March 1840.

In 1855, Hartstene commanded Release on the United States Naval Relief Expedition, financed by the U.S. Congress to search for the missing United States Franklin Search Expedition, 1853-855 (leader Elisha Kent Kane). Having found the missing party at Godhavn in September 1855, Release and Arctic returned to New York with the rescued party.

In 1856, Hartstene commanded HMS Resolute on her return voyage from the United States to England. Resolute, under the command of Henry Kellett, had been sent to the Arctic by the Admiralty in 1852 to search for the missing Franklin expedition. After being abandoned in Melville Sound in 1854, she drifted south to Davis Strait, where the U.S. whaler George Henry discovered her. The ship was then taken to the United States, where she was repaired and refitted before being returned to England under Hartstene's command. The intention was that she be used to continue the search for Franklin. Hartstene died in 1868.


For the purpose of this guide the collection is split into two sub-fonds covering the exploring expedition and 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 item is signed by the author.

Descriptions compiled by N. Boneham, Assistant Archivist with assistance from R. Stancombe and reference to 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 (7) 91 (08) and Encyclopaedia of Antarctica and the Southern Oceans ed. Bernard Stonehouse, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester (2002) ISBN 0471986658 SPRI Library (7)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 and Arctic exploration and development c.500 BC to 1915, an encyclopaedia by Clive Holland, Garland Publishing Inc. New York (1994) and The search for the North West Passage by Ann Margaret Savours, Chatham Publishing London (1999) SPRI Library Shelf (48)[1999]

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.