Wilhelm Filchner collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of correspondence by Filchner relating to the preparation of the German South Polar Expedition, 1911-1912 (led by Filchner)

Administrative / Biographical History

Wilhelm Filchner was born in Germany in 1877. He trained in a military academy and was commissioned in the German army. Interested in survey and geophysics, he led two expeditions to the Polar Regions. His first expedition to Spitsbergen in 1910 was undertaken to provide polar experience and to test equipment for his forthcoming Antarctic expedition. Filchner then planned and led the German South Polar Expedition, 1911-1912, intending to cross Antarctica from the Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea. He was the first to reach the head of the Weddell Sea, discovering Vahsel Bay, but the tabular iceberg on which he established his base camp broke free in a storm and drifted out to sea. Everyone was rescued but his ship Deutschland was then beset and drifted for nine months in the Weddell Sea before reaching open water. The observations made during this period were valuable since the area was completely unknown. His further Antarctic plans were abandoned because of the First World War. In later life Filchner continued to explore, travelling in central Asia and Tibet. He died on 7 May 1957 in Switzerland.

Published work, Ein Forscherleben Eberhard Brockhaus Wiesbaden (1951) SPRI Library Shelf 92[Filchner]


The correspondence is arranged alphabetically by recipient.

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reference to The Polar Record, (January 1958) volume 9, number 58, p56 and Robert Keith Headland Antarctic Chronology, unpublished corrected revision of Chronological list of Antarctic expeditions and related historical events, (1 December 2001) Cambridge University Press (1989) ISBN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

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.