John Heard collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of material relating to the United States Mercantile voyage, 1853-1854, (Captain John J Heard) compiled by Heard and his wife.

Administrative / Biographical History

John J Heard was born in Boston in 1809. He went to sea as a cabin boy at the age of twelve, rising to the position of master in the merchant marine. He commanded many commercial voyages around the world for Robinson, Wiggin & Co. of Boston, who owned the bark Oriental, including the United States mercantile voyage, 1853-1854, from Boston to Melbourne. Although this voyage was essentially a commercial venture, its penetration into uncharted Antarctic waters resulted in the discovery on 25 November 1853 of Heard Island, which in a few years became a major centre of the United States sealing industry. After the voyage, Heard pressed the United States government for official recognition of his claim to the island but to no avail. He died in 1862.


The collection is arranged chronologically.

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.


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 Americans in Antarctica 1775-1948 by Kenneth J. Bertrand, American Geographical Society New York (1971) SPRI Library Shelf (7)91(091) and Robert Keith Headland Antarctic Chronology, unpublished corrected revision of Chronological list of Antarctic expeditions and related historical events, (1 December 2001) Cambridge University Press (1989) ISBN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

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.