Edward Shackleton collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of material relating to the Oxford University expeditions to Borneo and the Arctic, correspondence by Shackleton and general papers

Administrative / Biographical History

Edward Arthur Alexander Shackleton was born on 15 July 1911 in London, the son of Ernest and Emily Shackleton. While an undergraduate at Magdalen College, Oxford, he joined the Oxford University Expedition to Sarawak as surveyor in 1932, making the first ascent of Mount Mulu. After graduating, he organized the Oxford University Expedition to Ellesmere Island, 1934-1935 (leader Noel Humphreys), conducting surveys and geological work in the Bache Peninsula area with his colleague Robert Bentham. After the expedition, Shackleton wrote Arctic Journeys, published in 1937, dealing with Canadian Arctic exploration between the wars. On the outbreak of the Second World War, he worked as Ministry of Information talks producer for the BBC, leaving in 1940 to join the RAF as an anti-U-boat planner and intelligence officer, where he rose to the rank of wing commander. He was awarded the OBE in 1945.

In 1946, he was elected Labour Member of Parliament for Preston, a position he held until 1955. In 1958, he was created Life Peer of Burley under the Life Peerages Act of 1958. He served as Minister of Defence for the RAF from 1964 to 1967, returning to the Arctic during an official visit to Canada in 1965. In 1967, he was appointed deputy leader of the House of Lords serving until 1968, when he became leader of the House of Lords and Lord Privy Seal, holding both posts until 1970. From 1971 to 1974, he served as president of the Royal Geographical Society and in 1990, was awarded its Special Gold Medal.

In 1973, he joined the RTZ Corporation as director, acting as deputy chairman from 1975 until his retirement in 1982, after which he was retained as adviser. In 1975, Shackleton was invited by the British government to lead an enquiry into the economy of the Falkland Islands and his Economic Survey of the Falkland Islands was published the following year. The report recommended various measures to improve the economy of the islands, including the upgrading of the airfield at Stanley, land reform and licensed fishing limits. On the outbreak of the Falklands Conflict in 1982, the government requested Shackleton to update this report. His wide-ranging knowledge enabled him to serve on many committees during his career and he was knighted in 1974. In 1988, he made his last visit to the Arctic as patron of the Joint Services Expedition to Borup Fiord, Ellesmere Island. He died on 22 September 1994.

Published work Nansen the explorer by (Baron) Edward Arthur Alexander Shackleton, H.F. & G. Witherby Ltd. London (1959) SPRI Library Shelf 92[Nansen, F.]


The collection is split into four sub-fonds comprising of expedition material, correspondence and papers 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 Arctic, exploration and development c500 BC to 1915, an encyclopaedia by Clive Holland, Garland Publishing, London (1994) and Exploring Polar Frontiers, a historical encyclopaedia by William Mills, San Diego and Oxford, 2003 and 'The Rt. Hon. Lord Shackleton' by Geoffrey Hattersley-Smith in The Polar Record volume 31 number 176 January 1995 p83 - 85 and Who's who 1992, A & C Black London (1992)

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