Robert Brown collection

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of material relating to the British Whaling and Scientific Expedition, 1861 (Leader George Deuchars) to the Greenland Sea and the Davis Strait and the British Exploring Expedition, 1867 (leader Edward Whymper) to west Greenland including correspondence by Brown regarding his participation in the expedition.

Administrative / Biographical History

Robert Brown was born on 23 March 1842 at Campster, Caithness in Scotland. In 1861, he interrupted his medical studies at the University of Edinburgh to join the British Whaling and Scientific Expedition (leader George Deuchars) as surgeon and naturalist, sailing in Narwhal to Iceland, Svalbard, Greenland and Baffin Bay and entering Lancaster Sound. Further opportunity for travel arose when Brown was appointed seed collector for the British Columbia Botanical Association of Edinburgh in 1863. The following year, he accepted the position of commander and government agent on the Vancouver Island Exploring Expedition, organized by a committee of prominent Victoria businessmen. The expedition succeeded in crossing Vancouver Island at several points, in some instances by new routes, and discovered gold on a river named after Peter John Leech, the second in command, and coal on a river named after Brown. Brown later travelled in Washington Territory, Oregon, the Queen Charlotte Islands, and northern Vancouver Island.

In 1867, Brown was appointed naturalist on the British Exploring Expedition (leader Edward Whymper), travelling to Greenland in an unsuccessful attempt to cross the interior with dog sledges. He and Whymper succeeded in collecting botanical specimens on the shores of Vaigat. After the expedition, he returned to Scotland where he was successively a lecturer on natural science in the High School and in the School of Arts of Edinburgh, and in the Mechanics Institute of Glasgow. In 1870, he was awarded a doctorate from the University of Rostock for his report on Vancouver Island. In 1876, Brown moved to London where he joined the editorial staff of the Echo, later transferring to the Standard in 1879. He was a prolific writer, publishing numerous reports on the botany, zoology, and geology of the areas he explored, in addition to popular scientific compilations. He died on 26 October 1895 at Streatham.

Arrangement

The collection is split into two sub-fonds comprising of expedition material

Conditions Governing Access

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.

Note

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 Dictionary of Canadian Biography and Geographical Journal December 1895 p577-578 SPRI Library Shelf Pam 92[Brown, Robert] and Scottish Geographical Magazine volume 12 number 1 1896 p28-29 SPRI Library Shelf Pam 92[Brown, Robert] and Scottish Geographical Magazine volume 13 number 1 1897 p27-28 SPRI Library Shelf Pam 92[Brown, Robert]

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

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.

Accruals

Further accessions possible