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Photographs of South Georgia and whaling activities

Reference Code: GBR/0115/RCS/Y30795B

Scope and Contents

Collection of loose prints and one duplicate by various unidentified photographers, most probably dating from the 1920s. The original owner, Hester McGivering, worked for Christian Salvesen Limited. It formed the third shore-based whaling station on South Georgia at Leith Harbour in November 1909 and continued operating there until 1960/61. It is therefore probable that most of the photographs of whaling stations on South Georgia are of Leith Harbour.
The photographs vary considerably in quality, from the very detailed scenes on a whaling ship (numbers 2-5) to a batch of larger but generally very faint photographs (numbers 56-80). The majority have captions on the back or front. Henry and Frances Heyburn, ‘Postcards of the Falkland Islands: a Catalogue 1900-1950’ (1985), sheds light on the origin of some of the photographs, though none of the items it lists are identical. On pp. 101-103 there is a list of a series of 18 cards on South Georgia and the whaling industry published by Ray V. Hardy, South Georgia, in 1914. The numbers and descriptions correspond to items Y30795B/48-55 listed above, but the set recorded by the Heyburns was coloured.
On pp. 145-147 is a description of a set of ten cards bound in a paper cover lettered ‘Prince Olav Harbour South Georgia’ with the cards perforated on the left hand side. They were published by Foto. Magn. Himberg, Southern Studio, Norway. The same firm published Y30795B/47, but this postcard is not listed by the Heyburns. All ten cards in the set are illustrated, and three correspond to items in this collection - though the latter are not captioned, and are separate cards, without perforations. These are:
AF1 "Albatros I Bay of Isles" = Y30795B/55, but the former photograph has been reproduced in oval shape. AF7 "Spermacet hval (sperm whale) Prince Olav Harbour" = Y30795B/37. AF8 "Blahval (Blue whale) Prince Olav Harbour" = Y30795B/38. It seems likely that the remaining cards Y30795B/37-47 are from the same source.


  • Creation: 1914 - 1929

Conditions Governing Access

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (


80 item(s) (80 images)

Language of Materials


Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

good condition unless otherwise stated.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Presented to the Royal Commonwealth Society in April 1986 by John H. McGivering. The photographs had been the property of his aunt, Hester McGivering, who worked for Christian Salvesen Ltd.


Among books giving a useful background to South Georgia and its whaling activities are:

Headland, Robert (1984), 'The Island of South Georgia,' Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Rankin, Niall (1951), 'Antarctic Isle,' London: Collins.

Matthews, Leonard Harrison (1951), 'Wandering Albatross,' London: MacGibbon & Kee.

Ommanney, Francis Downes (1938), 'South Latitude', London: Longman, Green

Heyburn, Henry and Heyburn, Frances (1985), 'Postcards of the Falkland Islands: a catalogue 1900-1950', Chippenham: Picton


This item level description was entered by NE and MJC using information from the original typescript catalogue.



Includes index.
2006-10-17 16:45:53+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

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