Robert Mossman collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of journals written during the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition, 1902-1904 (leader William Speirs Bruce). The second part of the collection comprises of correspondence with members of that expedition and others on polar related topics (some of which was written during the expedition).

Administrative / Biographical History

Robert Cockburn Mossman was born on 7 November 1870 into an Edinburgh family. He became an enthusiastic amateur meteorologist and was named as observer at the Glen Coe Station, at the foot of Ben Nevis, between 1895-1896. He joined the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition, 1902-1904 (leader William Speirs Bruce), as meteorologist and magnetic observer on board the Scotia. Mossman was placed in charge of the meteorological station, Omond House, which was established 1 April 1903 on Laurie Island. Perceiving the value of the meteorological station, William Speirs Bruce offered it first to the British government, which declined to support it, and then to the Argentine government, which accepted it. Three Argentine observers then sailed south on board the Scotia, which had travelled to Buenos Aires for a refit. On arrival at Laurie Island, they took over the station under Mossman's guidance, 22 February 1904. Mossman remained in charge of the station until February 1905.

On his return from the expedition, Mossman wrote numerous books and reports on meteorology and climate in the Antarctic, and in 1906 co-wrote The voyage of the Scotia along with fellow expedition members James Hunter Harvey Pirie and Robert Neal Rudmose Brown. Mossman died in Argentina on 19 July 1940.

Published work, The voyage of the Scotia, being a record of a voyage of exploration in the Antarctic Seas by Robert Cockburn Mossman, James Hunter Harvey Pirie, and Robert Neal Rudmose Brown, C. Hurst London (1906) SPRI Library Shelf (7)91(08)[1902-1904 Bruce] and 'Meteorology' by Robert Cockburn Mossman in, Scottish National Antarctic Expedition. Report on the scientific results of the voyage of S.Y. Scotia during the years 1902, 1903 and 1904, under the leadership of William S. Bruce, volume II, Physics, edited by William Speirs Bruce, Scottish Oceanographical Laboratory Edinburgh (1907) SPRI Library Shelf (7)91(08)[1902-1904 Bruce]


The collection is grouped into two sub-fonds, the expedition and correspondence.

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 SPRI Library Antarctic Biographies Card Index 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

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.

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Further accessions possible.