Robert Johnson collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of material relating to the United States Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842 (Senior Commander Charles Wilkes).

Administrative / Biographical History

Robert E Johnson served as a lieutenant during the United States Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842 (Senior commander Charles Wilkes). Sailing first on board the sloop of war Vincennes he also commanded the schooner Sea Gull for the first Antarctic voyage in 1839. During the expedition, Johnson was sent on several surveying ventures including the overland survey of the Cascade Range in North America. This two-month expedition resulted in the production of a new map of the Oregon Territory. Johnson was arrested and charged with disobedience and wasting government property and became one of several members of the expedition to face a court martial its return in 1842. He was acquitted after a two-day trial. During the expedition Johnson had served on four of the six expedition ships.


The collection 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 Voyage to the Southern Ocean, letters of Lieutenant William Reynolds ed. A Hoffman Cleaner and E Jeffrey Stam, Tri-Service Press, Shrewsbury (1998) ISBN 0870213008 SPRI library (7) 91(08) [1838-1842] and Magnificent Voyagers H J Violan and C Margolis, Smithsonian Institute, Press, Washington (1985) SPRI library (7) 91 (08) and Encyclopaedia of Antarctica and the Southern Oceans ed. Bernard Stonehouse, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester (2002) ISBN 0471986658 SPRI Library (7) and Robert Keith Headland Antarctic Chronology, unpublished corrected revision of Chronological list of Antarctic expeditions and related historical events,(1 December 2001) Cambridge University Press (1989) ISBN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.

Personal Names