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William Speirs Bruce

Oceanic and Polar exploration.

This major collection about the oceans and Polar exploration was bequeathed by Dr. William Speirs Bruce, explorer and oceanographer (1867-1921). Bruce studied at the Granton Marine Station and at the University of Edinburgh, and took part in numerous expeditions looking at the meteorology, botany and zoology of the Polar regions. In 1902, Bruce organised and led the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition to the Weddell Sea, returning home in 1904. This expedition took some of the earliest cine film of Antarctica.

The collection contains some 1,000 volumes, 2,000-3,000 pamphlets and offprints, and 30 albums of pictures and news cuttings, all on oceanography or Arctic and Antarctic exploration. The volumes include famous early 19th century travel accounts, annotated research publications and scientific reports.

The books are all listed in the pre-1985 typescript catalogue and there are online records for about 350 of them. The pamphlets and other printed material are not catalogued. The shelfmark is “Bruce Coll.”

The manuscript part of the collection includes notebooks, annotated typescripts, postcards, photographs, maps, diaries, correspondence and lists of specimens. Topics include the 'Balaena', fish and fisheries, Franz Josef Land, the Jackson-Harmsworth Expedition, meteorology, oceanography, Repulse Bay, the Seychelles, soundings, South Georgia, Spitzbergen, and whaling. These items are at Gen. 1646-1669. Detailed information is available in the Centre for Research Collections; see Handlist H72.

Related materials include a volume of newspaper cuttings relating to the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition at Gen.556, and a set of album material from the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition at Gen. 1670-1696. The collection complements the Challenger Expedition records and the Christian Salvesen archive in its depiction of travel and life across the polar oceans.