Winston Churchill, Antarctic correspondence collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of correspondence by Churchill to Lady Kathleen Scott widow of the Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott.

Administrative / Biographical History

Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, on 30 November 1874. He was educated at Harrow and the Royal Military College at Sandhurst before joining the Army in 1895 and serving in India and Sudan. After leaving the Army in 1899, he worked as a war correspondent for the Morning Post and the following year was elected Conservative Member of Parliament for Oldham. In 1904, Churchill decided to join the Liberal Party, and in 1906, was elected Liberal MP for North-West Manchester and was immediately appointed under-secretary of State for the Colonies. In 1908, he was promoted president of the Board of Trade and introduced important social legislation, including the establishment of employment exchanges.

In 1910, Churchill was appointed home secretary, introducing several reforms to the prison system, and the following year, became First Lord of the Admiralty. In 1912, he set up the Royal Naval Air Service and also established an Air Department at the Admiralty. On the outbreak of the First World War, Churchill joined the War Council, but after the failure of the Dardanelles Campaign in 1915, he was moved to the post of chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. He rejoined the Army, commanding a battalion on the Western Front and in 1917, resumed office as Minister of Munitions. Between 1919 and 1920, Churchill served as Minister of War and Air and from 1921 to 1922 as Colonial Secretary. In the general election of 1922, Churchill was defeated at Dundee, and after rejoining the Conservative Party, was successfully elected as MP for Epping in 1924. He was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer but lost office in 1929 with the defeat of the Conservative government.

On the outbreak of the Second World War, Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty and in April 1940, became chairman of the Military Co-ordinating Committee. After the resignation of Neville Chamberlain, Churchill was appointed Prime Minister in May 1940 and he formed a coalition government. Throughout the war he provided strong leadership and was a brilliant orator, and on 8 May 1945, Churchill declared the war in Europe finally at an end.

After a landslide victory by the Labour Party in the general election of 1945, Churchill became leader of the opposition, returning to office in the general election of 1951. In 1953, Churchill was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature and was knighted. His health continued to deteriorate and in 1955, he retired from politics. In 1960, Churchill College in Cambridge was founded as a memorial and in 1964; he became its first honorary fellow. He died on 24 January 1965.


The correspondence is arranged chronologically.

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 Dictionary of National Biography, 1961-1970, Oxford University Press, Oxford (1981) and Churchill College, Cambridge and Spartacus

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.