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Expeditions (E), 1933-1985

Reference Code: GBR/590/CSEC/02

Scope and Contents

The main bulk of the files are survey records. These document stations occupied, data, bearings, field sketches, and often include catalogues of specimens, localities, and photographs. These were written on 8x10” paper.

The series also includes field notebooks (approx. 500) kept by each member of the party. They document occupied stations, observed points (triangular), specimens collected, and those locations/specimens which were photographed. Brian Harland explained in a number of expedition bulletins, that these field notes would form the basis of the survey records.

Log books record the times and dates of stopping and starting, compass bearings, include sketch maps, gradients of snow surfaces, the number of photographs or specimens taken, and include weather records.

Photograph albums (often) include indexes/contents lists. They depict personnel, accommodation, food, specimens, panoramas, and wildlife.

The series also includes loose letters, maps, and ephemera.


  • Creation: 1933-1985

Conditions Governing Access

From the Fonds:

The papers are open for consultation by researchers using Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences. The Collections Research Centre [West Cambridge] is open from Monday to Friday, 10:00-13:00 and 14:00-17:00. A prior appointment made at least two weeks in advance, and two forms of identification are required.

Biographical / Historical

The files in this series form the main part of the Svalbard archive. They document the scientific work undertaken by members of each expedition group, from 1938 until 1992.

The principles for field-work notetaking were devised in 1949. These included a distinct system for station numbers (ringed) in notebook and in (round parenthesis) in typescript. Specimen numbers were always underlined and photograph numbers identified in a rectangle in a notebook and [square brackets] in typescript.

According to Brian "Different members were made responsible for the writing of diaries and reports, and for the curating of records and specimens in different departments of work, so that (current) results were readily available during the expedition". (Ref: E16, 1949 Expedition notes)

Each member each year was allocated a letter of the alphabet. This was used both as identification of personal baggage and as a prefix for station, specimen, and photo numbers. Each year the starting number of these was given to the member. This system was maintained throughout the expeditions.


500 banker's box(es) (The series includes archive boxes and twinlock crown binders. )

Language of Materials





This series was in good order and arranged chronologically by Brian Harland. Therefore this system has been maintained.

Other Finding Aids

Detailed spreadsheets of the expedition files are available at the Collections Research Centre.

NB: Lists of those who took part in each expedition during each season are available as are lists of the letters used to identify individuals notebooks/specimens/localities.

Repository Details

Part of the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences Repository

A.G Brighton & Colin Forbes Building
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