The collection comprises of correspondence by Buchanan including material regarding the British Naval Expedition to the Antarctic, 1872-1876 (leader George Strong Nares).
John Buchanan collection
- This material is held at
- ReferenceGB 15 John Buchanan
- Dates of Creation1872-1912
- Name of Creator
- Language of MaterialEnglish.
- Physical DescriptionCorrespondence (217 leaves)
Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
John Young Buchanan was born in Glasgow on 20 February 1844. He was educated at Glasgow High School and the University of Glasgow where he graduated in Arts in 1863. He went on to study chemistry at the Universities of Marburg, Bonn and Leipzig before working in a laboratory in Paris in 1867. Shortly after his return to Scotland, Buchanan was appointed Assistant to the Chair of Chemistry in the University of Edinburgh and in 1870 was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He was selected to join the British Naval Voyage, 1872-1876 (Chief Scientist Sir Charles Wyville Thomson), as chemist and physicist on board HMS Challenger. He conducted much important oceanographic research with the responsibility for deep-sea and surface temperature and salinity measurements. After the expedition, the Royal Geographical Society published his map of the distribution of specific gravity of the surface water of the oceans, the first map of oceanic salinity ever compiled.
On his return to Edinburgh, he set up a private laboratory and continued to spend much of his time at sea in oceanographic exploration. Buchanan was interested in the revival of the study of physical geography and played a part in establishing the Ben Nevis Observatory, the Scottish Geographical Society and the Scottish Marine Station. The Royal Society of Edinburgh awarded him the Keith Prize for his work in chemical oceanography in 1887, and he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in London.
In 1889, Buchanan was offered the new lectureship in geography at Cambridge University, a post he held for four years. After his resignation, his oceanographic work continued and Buchanan travelled abroad, frequently visiting Europe and South America, and as a guest of Prince Albert of Monaco on many cruises in the Mediterranean, the Atlantic and to Spitsbergen. Distressed by the outbreak of the First World War, he left England to live in Cuba and America. On his return to England, his health deteriorated and he did little further scientific work. He died on 16 October 1925.
Published work, Report on the scientific results of the exploring voyage of HMS Challenger, 1873-1876, under the command of Captain George Strong Nares, RN, FRS, and the late Captain Frank Tourle Thomson, RN volume I, parts 1 and 2, volume II, Narrative of the cruise by Thomas H Tizard, Henry Nottidge Moseley, John Young Buchanan and John Murray, Her Majesty's Stationery Office London (1885) SPRI Library Shelf (7) 91(08)
The correspondence is arranged alphabetically by recipient.
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Descriptions compiled by N. Boneham, Assistant Archivist with assistance from R. Stancombe and reference to Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, (1926) session 1924-1925, volume 45 part 4 p364-367 and The Geographical Magazine (September 1974) volume 44 number 12 p858-862 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.
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