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Polar Bytes - No. 22, April 2002

Polar Bytes - No. 22, April 2002

A few words from our Chairman, Philippa Foster Back:

I begin with news of the appointment of Professor Julian Dowdeswell to the post of Director of the Institute. Professor Keith Richards, who has recently been on sabbatical, has decided to pass on the baton a few months early. Keith worked hard for the Institute in his term as Director and we are grateful that he has managed to so firmly embed it within the Geography School and in the University itself, such that we have Development Office support for our fundraising. Our thanks go to him and our congratulations go to Julian.

The fundraising has got off to a good start, thanks to the Friends and we are now beginning to tackle the wider field as a more detailed document has been developed alongside the brochure you saw last autumn.

As summer is now just around the corner we are looking forward to the Summer Lunch and details of this are included. Future diary dates are noted below.

I am hopeful that shortly we will be able to announce group discounts for tours to both the North and the South. Kim Crosbie, a new Committee Member this year is investigating this for us. I am also hopeful that a trip to see HMS Endurance will be arranged for late summer after her annual refit. This would be via coach from Cambridge, with a London pickup. Fingers crossed!

Stamps - Thanks to an initiative of Dr David Wilson we have available 9 first day covers of a set of the British Antarctic Territory stamps commemorating the Discovery Expedition, stamped at Rothera (the 10th set will be raffled at the Friend's Lunch). Each has been signed by the Hon. Alexandra Shackleton, Falcon Scott and Dr. David Wilson. They are available for £50 each (p&p incl) on a strictly first come first served basis from Ann Bean. The sale proceeds will go towards the Appeal Fund.

Books - The South Polar Times - a facsimile reproduction, limited to 350 copies, is available from J&SL Bonham (tel. 020 7402 7064 or email, price £600. Publ. by Rochester Orskey Bonham and Niner, 2002 Centenary Edition in 3 Vols. Qurtto size, numerous illustrations (many coloured) original blue decorative cloth, vignette on upper covers. The original issue is now amongst the rarest (and most expensive) books in Polar literature.

A few words from the Director, Professor Julian Dowdeswell:

I am very pleased to have been appointed Director of the Scott Polar Research Institute and Professor of Physical Geography in the University of Cambridge. I am also grateful to Jesus College, the college where I was an undergraduate and where my wife Evelyn and I were married, for electing me to a Professorial Fellowship.

For anyone interested in the polar regions, the Scott Polar Research Institute is a very special place. Its combination of academic studies, in both science and the humanities, an unsurpassed polar library and an archival and art collection of very considerable breadth and depth, is unmatched. My challenge, and that of all our staff, is twofold: first, to further enrich the scholarly achievements of the Institute through research in both polar regions, often undertaken in an interdisciplinary context; secondly, to ensure that our polar library, archives and museum can continue to provide an information resource of the highest quality, and to contribute strongly to the public understanding of the polar regions in the context of both contemporary issues such as environmental change, and in terms of the history of polar exploration - with which the names and deeds of Scott, Shackleton and their colleagues are so closely bound up.

You will be aware that the Institute, supported by both the Friends and the University, has launched a major appeal for funds to underpin and enhance the activities of the library, archives and museum. In order to ensure that the Institute's collections continue to be widely accessible and to promote the understanding and responsible use of the polar regions, we are seeking 3.5 million pounds to fund personnel for and improvements to the library, archives and museum. The appeal is in its early stages, and I am looking forward to telling people about the record of achievement of the Institute and of our exciting plans for the future. I know that the Friends will provide us with the strongest possible support in this undertaking.

A few words from the Keeper and Librarian, William Mills:

Archives cataloguing grants

We are pleased to announce two grants to fund cataloguing collections held at the Institute.

Archives Hub is a national project funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee to provide Internet access to collection-level descriptions of holdings in the major repositories in UK Higher Education Institutions. SPRI's award is for £23,040 and will enable us to employ an Assistant Archivist for one year to compile ca. 1,000 collection-level descriptions for the Antarctic collections. You can find out more about Archives Hub at .

The second award is for £20,989.31 from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation for the Virtual Shackleton project. This marks the start of a major ongoing programme of work. During the last 12 months, the Institute has had the good fortune to receive, by presentation and through purchase, a number of major collections concerning Sir Ernest Shackleton and other members of his expeditions. These were to have been described in this issue of PolarBytes but have been delayed by the Librarian's illness. This grant will enable the Institute to employ an Archivist's assistant to compile finding aids and do other essential preparatory work before these materials can be made accessible to the public. The new Shackleton holdings will be described in the next issue of PolarBytes. The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation funded the establishment of the Picture Library database (, and we are grateful to the Trustees for their support of Virtual Shackleton, whose long-term aim is to make available through the Internet information and materials previously accessible, if at all, only at the Institute.

Map Collection

Last issue's advertisement for volunteers produced a flurry of interest and we now have two new Honorary Map Curators, Jean Cruttwell and Percy Hammond, who have begun work on compiling a database for the collection.

A few words from the Shop Manager, Ruth Fleming:

Over the past few months the Shop has received several new additions to its stock. For example, new book titles include 'Ninety Degrees North - The Quest for the North Pole' by Fergus Fleming, the biography 'Cherry' by Sara Wheeler, and a range of exciting new childrens books telling the stories of Scott and Shackleton. We are also looking forward to taking delivery of a new range of SPRI stationary, expected in the next few weeks. So keep an eye on the Shop website for new items, or contact me for a complete,
up-to-date catalogue.

A few words from our Secretary, Ann Bean:

We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the Summer Lunch. Girton have increased their prices this year and so, unfortunately, we have had to increase the ticket price to £24.

Now that the weather is getting warmer you may feel more like getting out and meeting other Friends (see Polar Bytes No.21 Jan 02) and if you live in the Lytham area Bill Comstive is willing to act as the contact (Tel 01253 731018)

In March Paul Davies organised an extremely well attended lunchtime lecture, given by Dr David Wilson, at the Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery. David's lecture, "Discovery Rediscovered", was very much appreciated and the Lord Mayor of Plymouth voiced the opinion of the audience that a great deal more should be done to promote Scott's connection with Plymouth. During the afternoon Paul took a small group to visit sites of relevance to Scott within the City and to meet a group of local schoolchildren who kept David Wilson and Mike Tarver (The Captain Scott Society) busy answering their questions. Our thanks to Paul for organising such an informative and interesting afternoon.

Finally, since 1998 The Friends subscriptions have been:

Individual £15
Family £20
Overseas £17.50
Student £5.00
Life £250

To those Friends with longstanding Bankers Orders who are still paying the old rates - if you are able to increase your payment it would be very much appreciated.

Diary Dates:

  • Ireland's first ever "Antarctica" exhibition to be held at The Kerry County Museum from April-December 2002.
  • Summer Lunch Saturday 8th June 2002
  • AGM Saturday 16th November 2002