This collection of works on Arctic and Antarctic exploration was formed by Sir James Mann Wordie (1889-1962), explorer and scholar, Master of St John?s College, Cambridge (1952-59). Presented to the Library in 1959, it contains over 4,600 printed items, comprising books, journals (including runs of foreign journals such as Meddelelser om Grønland), c. 2,000 pamphlets, 16 maps, and 68 volumes of correspondence and papers, many concerned with the Colonial Office?s Discovery Committee. The collection includes not only technical reports of scientific expeditions, and the results of polar research, but also popular accounts of travel and exploration, whale-fishing and folklore. Mostly published during the period 1850-1940, by far the greater part of the collection is in English, but there are works in German, French, Scandinavian, Dutch, Spanish (chiefly Argentine publications), and a few other languages. The earliest work is the second edition of Purchas his Pilgrimage (1614), and there are c. 60 works published in the 18th century. Material on the polar regions, particularly works relating to discovery and exploration, continues to be acquired under the terms of the Graham Brown bequest (see Graham Brown Collection).
Shelf Catalogue of the Wordie Collection of Polar Exploration, Boston, 1964. The manuscripts are described and indexed in Vol. VIII of the Library?s Catalogue of Manuscripts.