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By Endurance We Conquer

By Endurance We Conquer

Endurance trapped in the ice 'By Endurance We Conquer: The Shackleton Project' unites the Scott Polar Research Institute's Archive, Museum, Library and Picture Library in a targeted purchasing strategy designed to develop its collection of material relating to Sir Ernest Shackleton. It will strengthen all four departments through knowledge-sharing and collaborative planning, and dramatically enhance our public engagement offerings through new acquisitions and interpretation.

The project focuses on heritage relating to the Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, encompassing archival material such as logs, journals and correspondence, photographic records, paintings and sketches, and objects such as polar clothing and scientific equipment. The project will examine in detail the heritage aspects of the three expeditions which Shackleton led to the Antarctic: the British Antarctic (Nimrod) Expedition (1907-09), The Imperial Trans-Antarctic (Endurance) Expedition (1914-17) and the Shackleton-Rowett (Quest) Expedition (1921-22), during which Shackleton died; in addition, the SPRI's heritage collectoons (Archive, Museum, Library and Picture Library) will seek to expand the stock of material concerning Shackleton's life outside of his major expeditions, including his family life and his involvement in Captain Robert Falcon Scott's British National Antarctic (Discovery) Expedition (1901-04).

Sir Ernest ShackletonSPRI's Archive already holds diaries for all four of Shackleton's Antarctic expeditions, correspondence, lecture notes, poetry and papers written by himself and his wife Emily. The collection also includes the diaries and papers of members of Nimrod, Endurance and Quest expeditions, as well as a large collection of papers relating to Shackleton's son, Sir Edward Shackleton.

The Polar Museum holds material from all four of the Antarctic expeditions in which Shackleton was involved, including foodstuff (pemmican, cocoa, pea soup), goggles, medals and a thermometer from Nimrod, as well as crampon shoes, a sledging flag and a clock from Quest. There is relatively little material surviving from Endurance because most of it went down with the expedition ship. However, the Museum holds boots, Shackleton's goggles, Frank Worsley's chronometers and the sextant used by Worsley during his extraordinary feat of navigation on the crossing from Elephant Island to South Georgia on board the lifeboat, the James Caird.

The Picture Library holds a comprehensive photographic record of all of Shackleton's expeditions, including all the images which Frank Hurley, Endurance's expedition photographer, managed to save when the ship was abandoned.

The centenary of Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic (Endurance) Expedition (1914-17) is a once in a generation opportunity to develop the Institute's collection of Shackleton-related material. As a result of the enormous increase in public interest generated by the centenary celebrations, a large number of items relating to Shackleton's life and expeditions will either return to the market from private collections or become available for the first time. 'By Endurance We Conquer' will enable the Institute to seize this opportunity.

We wish to develop all elements of the collection, but will use the centenary of Endurance as an opportunity to focus on this expedition in particular. We will pursue a strategy which, whilst laying emphasis on archival material, will seek to build our holdings in a way which balances images, objects and written material, enhancing the connections between our own collections. We are especially keen to develop the record we hold of members of the lower deck on Endurance and the photographic record of the rescue by the Chilean vessel, Yelcho. Secondary sources such as reminiscences penned after the event may come to light, as well as material from the second ship of the Endurance expedition, Aurora, and the papers of the expedition cook, Charles Green.

Sir Ernest Shackleton is one of Britain's greatest explorers. His name is associated with exemplary leadership, courage in the face of adversity and the refusal to give up. He is not only of national significance – Shackleton is internationally revered as an inspiring figure. On a local level, Shackleton's heritage is especially valuable in workshops encouraging aspiration and ambition for children from primary school level to sixth form. Particularly given the fate of the ship Endurance and the loss of so much of its contents, material that remains is of unique importance - it bears rare witness to the astonishing achievements of this expedition. The project will enable us to conduct extensive research into the Shackleton archive at SPRI, and in other relevant collections, both public and private. This programme of research will lay the groundwork for the development of an acquisitions strategy, will feed into a comprehensive programme of public engagement focused on the collecting area in order to promote its use and to celebrate Shackleton's life and achievements.

Heather Lane, Librarian and Keeper of Collections at the Scott Polar Research Institute says, 'We are delighted to have been awarded this £500,000 grant in the 2014 round of the Heritage Lottery Fund's Collecting Cultures strand, and particularly honoured to be the only organisation nationally to achieve this award at the maximum level. The HLF have been most generous in their support of the redevelopment of the Polar Museum and Archives and we look forward to working with them to bring the amazing story of Sir Ernest Shackleton to wider public attention. This grant will help us to develop our collections, but most importantly will give us the means to make them truly accessible.'

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