Royal Humane Society collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of documents created by the Royal Humane Society on the news of the deaths of Scott, Wilson, Bowers, Oates and Evans, British Antarctic Expedition, 1910-1913.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Royal Humane Society was founded in London in 1774 by Dr. William Hawes (1736-1808) and Dr. Thomas Cogan (1736-1818) as the Humane Society for the recovery of persons apparently drowned. Later, in the same year the first award was given to a waterman for the rescue of a drowning child. In 1783 King George III became the first patron of the society, and four years later, the society became known as the Royal Humane Society. In 1835, the Receiving House, where first aid could be given, was built for the society in Hyde Park, remaining there until its demolition in 1954. Royal Charter incorporated the society in 1959. From its foundation in 1774 to 2003, the Society has made a total of over 84,500 awards for bravery.


The collection is arranged in the order in which it was deposited at the Institute.

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Assistant Archivist with assistance from R. Stancombe and reference to Robert Keith Headland Antarctic Chronology, unpublished corrected revision of Chronological list of Antarctic expeditions and related historical events, (1 December 2001) Cambridge University Press (1989) ISBN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 Royal Humane Society

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.

Corporate Names