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SPRI Review 2004: Archives


The archival collections of the Institute, housed in a purpose-built temperature and humidity controlled environment, continue to be an internationally renowned resource for scholars of the polar regions. The Institute continues to receive more requests for access than can be accommodated given current staffing levels, and a streamlined system including online booking is being discussed for introduction in the coming year. Electronic access to parts of the Institute's archival collections has been made possible through the 'Archives Hub' project, on which Naomi Boheham was supported by a grant from the Joint Information Systems Committee. We intend to seek further funds to pursue this work.

As usual, our readers had a wide variety of polar interests, but biographies were a strong theme. Publication of those on Captain Robert Falcon Scott, by Sir Ranulph Fiennes, and on Sir James Wordie, by Michael Smith, occurred during the year. The Transit of Venus on 8 June 2004 caused much interest in the historical observations made on several of the peri-Antarctic islands. Information was provided from the many publications, including some fascinating extracts from The Illustrated London News.

Through the good offices of Mrs Angie Butler, Mrs June Rowbothan, of Johannesburg, gave a detailed set of papers from her relative Frank Wild, a key man on Shackleton's expeditions, who finished his days in South Africa. Miss Quar kindly gave a series of photographs, documents, and items from Leslie Quar who was one of those tragically killed during the Norwegian-British-Swedish Expedition to Antarctica (1949-52).

The Archivist gave lectures at a number of venues, including the National Maritime Museum, Natural History Museum, the Brecon Festival of Exploration, Southampton Oceanography Centre, Shell Petroleum and the University of Helsinki.

R.K. Headland