Alec Laurie collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of material covering the Antarctic whaling industry and correspondence regarding the Discovery Investigations (1924-1951), 1929-1930.

Administrative / Biographical History

Alec Hibburd Laurie was born in Edinburgh in 1907. He was educated at Sedbergh and read science at King's College, Cambridge. He taught biology briefly at Westminster School before joining the Discovery Investigations as biologist and chemist. He first served as zoologist in RRS William Scoresby during 1929-1930, and then in RRS Discovery II from October to November 1930. Between 1930 and 1931, he served at the Marine Biological Station, South Georgia, and on the whale factory ship Southern Princess for the season 1932 to 1933. He also led a whale-marking cruise. His biological research included an early investigation of reproduction in blue whales, and the physiology and structure of whale respiratory mechanisms. He was awarded the Polar Medal in 1942.

During the Second World War, he was involved in weapons research, first as a civilian and later as a commissioned officer in the Royal Navy. After the war, he applied scientific research to problems in several aquatic fields, including harbour protection, fish farming and sewage treatment. He died on 18 April 1987.


The collection is split into two sub-fonds comprising of correspondence on the Discovery Investigations and material on the whaling industry respectively.

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 Alec Hibburd Laurie by Bernard Stonehouse in The Polar Record (April 1988) volume 24 number 149 p149 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) SPRI Library Shelf 737.2Robert 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.

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 the expedition' Laurie was involved with. The catalogue can be searched on line by going to the Picture Library Database and selecting the Enter Polar Pictures link.