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SPRI Review 2002: Archives


The Archives, held in temperature and humidity controlled conditions in the Institute, continue to be a World-renowned resource for scholarly studies of the polar regions and their explorers. Among the readers were several completing biographies of polar explorers: among the subjects were Apsley Cherry-Garrard, Robert Falcon Scott, Scott's northern party, Ernest Shackleton and Lawrence Oates. Several books also appeared during the year, in which the Institute is acknowledged for access to its archives of polar diaries, logs and other records.

For the first time, funding has been obtained to support employment of staff to assist the Archivist: an assistant archivist, funded by Archives Hub; and an Archives assistant, funded by the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation. Archives Hub is a national initiative enabling repositories within higher education institutions to post listings of their holdings on the Internet. The entry contributed by the Institute for the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition (W.S. Bruce, 1902-04) was highlighted as 'Collection of the Month' in January 2003. The flood of acquisitions concerning Sir Ernest Shackleton has led to a significant backlog of unprocessed material. These items are now being catalogued with the aid of the archives assistant, a preparatory phase of Virtual Shackleton, a planned website that will illustrate the explorer's life and expeditions with images of primary materials held by the Institute.

The Antarctic Heritage Trust, the Friends of the Institute, and several other sources were most helpful in purchasing items of polar interest for our collections at Christie's recent sales. The continuing generosity of individuals to the Institute was also demonstrated in several gifts. One among these was the conversion of a long-term loan of many documents from the Wordie family into a gift outright. This includes some first class 'Shackletoniana,' further augmenting the holdings of this important and broad collection.

In February, a representative of the Public Records Office, acting for the Master of the Rolls, inspected the Institute's holdings of records from the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. This is conducted about every six years and, as previously, the preservation and availability of the records was highly commended.

R.K. Headland