James Marr collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of material relating to the Shackleton-Rowett Antarctic Expedition, 1921-1922 (leader Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton), the British Arctic Expedition, 1925 (leader Frank Worsley), the British, Australian, New Zealand Antarctic Expedition, 1929-1930 (leader Sir Douglas Mawson), the Antarctic Whaling Industry, 1939-1940 and correspondence by Marr.

  • MS 100/71/1-2;D MARR JAMES Letters (2) to Hugh Robert Mill, 8 and 16 November 1933 [Seeking information on history of South Orkneys] 2 leaves, holograph
  • MS 356/71/1-2;D MARR JAMES Letters (2) to Robert Neal Rudmose Brown, 20 April 1925 and 8 February 1934 [Regarding scientific work that could be carried out in the North] 2 leaves, holograph
  • MS 1403/1/1-5;D MARR JAMES Scientific reports (5), 1925 [Plants collected, records, July to September, work on northern marine fauna, mosses, algae] 20 leaves, holograph an typescript
  • MS 1403/2/1-2;D MARR JAMES Letters (2) to Mrs Marr (mother), 16 July and 20 October 1925 [Regarding progress of the British Arctic Expedition] 11 leaves holograph and typed transcripts
  • MS 1403/3/1-30;D MARR JAMES Correspondence and papers, 1929 to 1931 [Correspondence with Discovery Committee, report on ships officers, letters between expedition leader Mawson and Marr] 84 leaves, holograph and typescript
  • MS 1403/4;D MARR JAMES Correspondence and papers, 1939 to 1940 [As Whale Fishery Inspector in Terje Viken in the South Atlantic ocean] 50 leaves, holograph and typescript
  • MS 1591/10/1;D MARR JAMES Diary, 19 June 1922 to 14 September 1922 [Shackleton-Rowett Antarctic expedition, 1921-1922], 37 leaves, typescript
  • MS 1591/29/1;D MARR JAMES A short account of the Tristan da Cunha group and Gough Island, 15 June 1922, 15 leaves, holograph
  • MS 1591/29/2;D MARR JAMES Copy of MS 1591/29/1;D, 18 leaves, typescript

Administrative / Biographical History

James William Slesser Marr was born on 9 December 1902 in Aberdeen. He was reading classics at Aberdeen University and was a patrol leader in the 1st Aberdeen Scout troop when he was selected along with Norman Mooney for the Shackleton-Rowett Expedition, 1921-1922 (leader Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton), serving as cabin-boy in Quest. Resuming his studies on his return to Aberdeen, he graduated with an MA in classics in 1924 and a BSc in zoology in 1925.

In 1925, he participated in the British Arctic Expedition to Franz Josef Land (leaders Frank Worsley and Grettir Algarsson), and two years later joined the Discovery Investigations, 1928-1929, as marine biologist in RRS William Scoresby.

In 1929 he was seconded to the British, Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition, 1929-1931 (leader Sir Douglas Mawson), returning to complete two further expeditions in RRS Discovery II between 1931 and 1933, and between 1935 and 1937, during which he made a major study of krill.

On the outbreak of the Second World War Marr conducted research in the Antarctic into the feasibility of whale meat for human consumption, and on his return in 1940 was commissioned in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, serving in Iceland, the Far East and South Africa. In 1943 Marr was selected to take command of all shore staff in the British Naval Expedition, 1943-1944, also known as 'Operation Tabarin', organized to establish permanent bases in the Falkland Island Dependencies. Returning to the Discovery Investigations after the war, he was appointed principal scientific officer in the National Institute of Oceanography at Godalming in 1949, publishing The natural history and geography of the Antarctic krill in 1962.

He died on 29 April 1965.

Published work, In to the frozen south published by Cassell and Company, London (1923) The natural history and geography of the Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba Dana), Discovery Reports Volume 32 (1962)


The material is arranged by accession number

Access Information

Access to archive material is by appointment only.

An on line booking form is available via the SPRI archive web pages http://www.spri.cam.ac.uk/library/archives/bookings/.


Anyone wishing to consult material should ensure they quote the entire MS reference and the name of the author

The term holograph is used when the item is wholly in the handwriting of the author. The term autograph is used when the author signs the item.

Other Finding Aids

Published catalogue by 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 for material received after 1982.

Archivist's Note

Descriptions compiled by N. Boneham, with assistance from R. Stancombe and reference to R.K. Headland Antarctic Chronology, unpublished corrected revision of Chronological list of Antarctic expeditions and related historical events and Encyclopaedia of Antarctica and the Southern Oceans ed. Bernard Stonehouse, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester (2002) ISBN 0471986658 and British polar exploration and research, a historical and medallic record with biographies 1818-1999 by Lieutenant Colonel Neville W. Poulsom and Rear Admiral John A.L. Myres, Savannah Publications London (2000) and Who was who, 1961-1970, A&C Black, London (1972) and Dr. J.W.S. Marr by George Edward Raven Deacon in Nature (July 1965) volume 207 number 4995 p351-352

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Further accessions are possible

Related Material

The Scott Polar Research Institute holds a number of photographs, film and other illustrative material in the Picture Library. The catalogue can be searched on line by going to the Picture Library Database http://www.spri.cam.ac.uk/library/pictures/database/ and selecting the Enter Polar Pictures link. Any requests for photographs should be directed to the SPRI Picture Library Manager.