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Polar Bytes - No. 15, April 2000

Polar Bytes - No. 15, April 2000

A word from our Chairman, by Philippa Foster Back

Friends Antarctic Cruise

I can report back that the members of the Friends Expedition all safely returned to Hobart after a magical experience to Antarctica. The weather was very kind to us, so we got to see and do everything we wished to do. The only disappointment was being unable to land either on the Ross Ice Shelf or Franklin Island but this was compensated by a visit to the Drygalski Ice Tongue where we found five Emperor penguins huddled together and a champagne party atop an iceberg! We have plenty of photographic evidence some of which I hope will be on display at the Friends lunch. The Friends held a cocktail party, kindly sponsored by Adventure Associates, to encourage fellow passengers to join. This was very successful and to date we have nine new members.
Perhaps the Friends would be interested in a trip to the Arctic next, perhaps summer 2001, any takers? More in the next Polar Bytes.

More cruise news

Among those aboard Kapitan Khlebnikov was the Institute's archivist, Bob Headland. As well as delivering lectures on Antarctic history and geography he was able to show passengers round the historic huts of Borchgrevink (winter 1899), Scott (winter 1902-3 and 1911, 1912) and Shackleton (1908, 1915-16). For all involved this was an ideal opportunity to reconcile our theoretical knowledge of these historic sites with the practice of experiencing them.

Polar Paraphernalia, by Anne Millar

Summer Lunch, Girton College Saturday 3 June, 2000

The Lunch will again be held at Girton College. Please send in your applications for tickets as soon as possible as the College has set a maximum limit of 80 places. The final date for applications will be Friday 26 May. The cost is as last year, 17.50 per person. This includes a sherry reception in the Stanley Library at 12.30pm. Lunch is at 1.15pm in the Old Hall which will include wines or fruit juice. Following lunch there will be a presentation by Philippa Smith (Picture Library Manager) on the work of the department . There will be a display of photographs in the Stanley Library from the Picture Library and an opportunity to order prints of your choice.

New Resources on the SPRI Website, by Mr William Mills

An Expeditions webpage may now be found at ( set up by volunteer Claude Cowan, the aim is to provide short summaries illustrated by photographs from the Picture Library for lesser known expeditions, currently the British Graham Land Expedition (1934-37), Gough Island Scientific Survey (1955-56) and Norwegian-British-Swedish Antarctic Expedition (1949-52). Another major development has been the establishment of three major bibliographic databases by the Library. These cover the Antarctic, Glaciological and Russian Collections and may be accessed by clicking on 'Information Resources' on the SPRI home page

Picture Library, by Philippa Smith

The Picture Library has, again, good reason to be grateful to the Friends this year. With the help of a donation, we have been able to purchase archival storage boxes for all our film footage. We are now in the process of re-housing the films in these, and are beginning to accumulate a large number of empty, rusting, film canisters. On the topic of conservation, we are most grateful for the help of a number of Friends with the wrapping of glass negatives in acid free 'Silversafe' envelopes. Lucy Martin, who is presently co-ordinating this work, has been overseeing a regular working party who come into the Institute and offer their services. Thanks to Angela Haines, Anne Todd, Winifred Ware, Sally Stonehouse, Anne Millar and David Limbert for their help with this project.

Friends may be interested to know that the Picture Library has just issued 3 sets of notelets, illustrated with Edward Wilson's water-colours. Details can be obtained from Irene Burns, Philippa Smith or from our website.

Mr Robert Headland, Archivist, writes

Christie's Sale

There is another exploration and travel sale at Christie's on 18 April. Many polar items will be auctioned. The Institute, and several other polar bodies hope to bid for selected items. The Friends have agreed to allow up to 3,000 being available to support this. The Antarctic Heritage Trust (UK) has promised another 2,000 and I am seeking funds from other sources.

Dorothy Laurie

Mrs Laurie was the widow of Alec Hibbard Laurie, the biologist, chemist and photographer who accompanied the Discovery investigations from 1925 onwards. Much of his work was at the marine station on South Georgia. He was a well-known supporter of the Institute until his death in 1987. Dorothy developed a strong interest in matters Antarctic and the Institute in particular. She helped with the Friends and was a regular volunteer and assisted with invigilation of the museum on a regular weekly basis for several years. As well as being observant and selling postcards with other items from the shop during the day (when it was aboard a trolley), she became adept at answering the many questions posed by children. These duties were, as several Friends remember, very variable as nobody could anticipate whether an afternoon would be relaxing or entirely the opposite with a hectic visitors' session. Although, in later years, she was able to help less actively she continued her remembrance and consideration of the Institute by leaving a generous benefaction.

Membership Matters, by Jennifer Dale

To date we have 525 members and 19 Life Members. Subscriptions are being received promptly. If you have any queries do contact me on or telephone me on 01223 336562 9 am - 12 noon. Thanks to Anne Millar, Angela Haines and Anne Todd for help with the mailings. I am sad to report the deaths of Marjorie Maxwell and Mrs Hilda Richardson. Her successor has kindly prepared a tribute to her work.

Hilda Richardson, by Simon Ommanney, Secretary General, International Glaciological Society (IGS)

Hilda died on 5 February 2000. She was a graduate of Newnham College and was best-known to us as the Secretary General of the IGS. She served for 40 years helping to transform it from a group of British snow and ice enthusiasts into an international learned society that now publishes the two principal international glaciological serials: the Journal of Glaciology and the Annals of Glaciology. Operating from SPRI she helped draw many glaciologists to Cambridge. She retired from the IGS in 1993.

She was also elected President of the Cambridge branch of Soroptimist International and later International President and was well-known to professional women in this country. She played a decisive role in the attainment of Category 1 consultative status for SI with the Economic and Social Council of the UN.