Robert Goodsir collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of correspondence by Goodsir to William Penny

Administrative / Biographical History

Robert Anstruther Goodsir was the brother of Harry D S Goodsir who served as assistant surgeon and naturalist on the ill-fated British Naval Northwest Passage expedition, 1845-1848 (leader Sir John Franklin). In 1849, he joined the whaler Advice under William Penny on the British Whaling and Franklin Search Expedition. Sailing in company with the whaler Truelove (Captain Parker), the two vessels lay whaling off Pond Inlet, Baffin Bay, until an Eskimo report that Franklin and his men had been seen alive was brought to Parker. The expedition then entered Lancaster Sound but ice prevented them from passing beyond Brodeur Peninsula. His account of the expedition was published in 1850.

The following year, Goodsir was appointed surgeon in HMS Lady Franklin on the British Franklin Search Expedition, 1850-1851 (leader William Penny), instructed to search for Franklin's missing expedition in Jones Sound and Wellington Channel and in the unexplored region beyond Cape Walker, Barrow Strait. In the spring of 1851, Goodsir travelled up the east coast of Cornwallis Island by sledge before exploring the north coast as far as Little Cornwallis Island where open water obliged him to turn back. After the expedition, he served as president of the Royal Medical Society of Edinburgh.

Published work An Arctic voyage to Baffin's Bay and Lancaster Sound, in search of friends with Sir John Franklin by Robert Anstruther Goodsir, John Van Voorst London (1850) SPRI Library Shelf (41)91(08)[1849 Penny]


The correspondence with Penny 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 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 British polar exploration and research a historical and medallic record with biographies 1818-1999 by Lieutenant Colonel Neville W Poulsom and Rear Admiral John A L Myres, Savannah Publications London (2000) SPRI Library Shelf 737.2

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