Jackson, papers on Amundsen

Archive Unit

Scope and Content

  • MS 1454;MJ Captain Roald Amundsen in Alaska 1905-1926 [Compilation of photocopied extracts from books and articles, archival photograph collections, and some manuscript material, relating to Amundsen's career in the Arctic, with special reference to his visits to Alaska. Includes voyages of Gjøa, 1903-1906, Maud, 1918-22; Amundsen and Ellsworth polar flight, 1925; Norge flight, 1926] microfilm

Administrative / Biographical History

Roald Engelbrecht Gravning Amundsen was born on 16 July 1872 near Oslo in Norway into a prosperous ship-building family. In his early years, he was inspired to become a polar explorer by travel books on the Arctic and by the exploits of his countryman Fridtjof Nansen. In 1903, despite inadequate financial support, he sailed the small fishing boat Gjøa with six companions from Baffin Bay westward through the Arctic archipelago of northern Canada, living in close contact with local Inuit. During the first winter, he sledged with dog teams to the North Magnetic Pole. In the second summer, Gjøa emerged into the Beaufort Sea, becoming in August 1905 the first ship to achieve the Northwest Passage.

For two years following his return, Amundsen was engaged in writing and lecturing in order to pay the debts of the expedition.

Returning to the Arctic in 1918 (after his successful journey to the South Pole), with his own ship Maud, in which he sailed and drifted along the Siberian coast.

On his return to Norway, Amundsen became interested in flight as a means of exploration, and after some preliminary ventures, he flew from Spitsbergen in 1925, reaching 88° North before being forced to descend. The following year, with Lincoln Ellsworth and General Nobile, he took the Norge airship from Spitsbergen to Alaska over the North Pole in 72 hours. In June 1928, he was lost with two companions while flying over the Arctic Ocean in search of a missing Italian expedition led by General Nobile.



Related Material

The Institute holds an archival collection for GB 015 Roald Amundsen which includes material on the Gjøa voyage.

The Scott Polar Research Institute holds a number of photographs, film and other illustrative material in the Picture Library, some of which covers the Norwegian South Polar Expedition. The catalogue can be searched on line by going to the Picture Library Database and selecting the Enter Polar Pictures link.