skip to primary navigation skip to content

SPRI Review 2007: Thomas H. Manning Polar Archives

Thomas H. Manning Polar Archives

Requests for access to the archives continue to grow, with a series of national and international visitors. So, too, do the collections. News of the Scott family's generous gift of the final correspondence between Captain Scott and Kathleen Scott was released in January. Contained within the bound volume was the last letter written by Captain Scott to Kathleen, which was found with his body. There was international press interest in these letters with BBC News 24 running several stories throughout the day and ITV Channel 4 and Canadian TV sending reporters to the Institute alongside those of many newspapers. Several other gifts relating to the Terra Nova expedition were received during the year, including letters written by William Lashly to his family, correspondence regarding the press contracts for the expedition and copies of newspapers from the time. We are very grateful for these generous enhancements to our collections.

In the polar sale at Christies in September, we purchased the logbooks kept by Captain Scott as a midshipman, which also reveal in a series of beautiful watercolours something of his artistic sensibility. In the same sale, we were also successful in acquiring a brief anonymous journal from a crewman on Nares' British Arctic Expedition of 1875-1876. Support for these purchases from the Friends of SPRI and the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust is gratefully acknowledged.

Material from the Archive collections has been on public display in the Institute's Museum and at Bonhams Auction House in London. Items of scientific equipment and records relating to SPRI's part in the development of radio-echo sounding of ice thickness were also lent for the Summer Science exhibition held at the Royal Society.

Ongoing work to conserve the collections has progressed well throughout the year and, through the generous support of the Friends, bespoke boxes have been purchased for several important expedition diaries. Archive volunteers Deirdre Hanna, Michael Laughton, John Reid and Sally Stonehouse have been of great assistance in carrying out a variety of tasks relating to collection care.

Naomi Boneham