British National Antarctic Expedition collection

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 15 British National Antarctic Expedition, 1901-1904
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      Press cuttings, financial statements, scientific notes, cash books, crew lists, correspondence and miscellaneous material (Circa 25 leaves, 14 volumes and a set of plans).

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of financial statements, lists of crew, scientific observations and press cuttings created prior to, during and after the expedition.

Administrative / Biographical History

The British National Antarctic Expedition, 1901-1904 (leader Robert Falcon Scott) undertook the first extensive exploration on land in Antarctica. Funding came from the Government, the Royal Society, the Royal Geographical Society and private donations. The expedition set up base at McMurdo Sound from where sledging parties carried out recognisance and scientific programmes including a journey to the Cape Crozier emperor penguin rookery and exploration along the west of Victoria Land leading to the discovery of the Ferrar glacier. Scott made the fist balloon ascent on the continent in 1902. A three-man sledge party consisting of Scott, Ernest Shackleton and Edward Wilson achieved a furthest south of 82.28° on 30 December 1902. The expedition ship, Discovery, commissioned and built especially for the expedition was beset in McMurdo Sound from 1902-1904.

Two relief expeditions sent to Discovery, the first 1902-1903 was organised by the Royal Geographical Society, the second, 1903-1904, by the Royal Navy. The steam yacht Morning captained by William Colbeck took part in both expeditions, on the second voyage she was joined by the steam yacht Terra Nova captained by Henry Duncan MacKay. After Discovery was freed from the ice the three ships sailed north in February 1904.

Expedition members, Robert Falcon Scott, Albert Armitage, Michael Barne, Louis Charles Bernacchi, Hartley Travers Ferrar, Thomas Hodgson, Reginald Koettlitz, George Mulock, Charles William Rawson Royds, Ernest Henry Shackleton, Reginald William Skelton, Edward Adrian Wilson, David Allan, A H Blissett, Charles Clarke, Thomas Crean, Jacob Cross, George Croucher, Fred Dailey, James Dell, James Dellbridge, James Duncan, Edgar Evans, Thomas Feather, Charles Ford, Jesse Handsley, William Heald, Ernest Joyce, Thomas Kennar, William Lashly, Arthur Pilbeam, Arthur Quartley, Frank Plumley, Gilbert Scott, William Smythe, William Weller, Thomas Whitefield, John Robert Francis Wild, Thomas Williamson,


The collection is arranged chronologically.

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 signs the item.

Descriptions compiled by N. Boneham, Assistant Archivist with reference to 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 Robert Falcon Scott The Voyage of the Discovery 2 volumes, (1913) John Murray, London SPRI Library shelf (7)91(08)[1901-1904] and Encyclopaedia of Antarctica and the Southern Oceans ed. Bernard Stonehouse, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester (2002) ISBN 0471986658 SPRI Library (7)

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.

Related Material

The Scott Polar Research Institute holds a number of photographs, film and other illustrative material in the Picture Library, some of which covers this expedition. The catalogue can be searched on line by going to the Picture Library Database and selecting the Enter Polar Pictures link. These collections include photographs taken by Hartley Ferrar, Thomas Hodgson, Reginald Skelton and Edward Wilson


The voyage of the Discovery by Robert Falcon Scott recounts the expedition, copies are available at the Institutes Library (7)91(08)[1901-1904]