Transcript of filmed talk about Shackleton at the National Library of Scotland.
Hi, I'm Paula Williams and I'm Curator of maps, mountaineering and polar collections at the National Library of Scotland. A hundred years ago a small ship left Gritviken in South Georgia and sailed south into the Weddell Sea. It became stuck fast in the ice and cruised around for about the next 16 months until eventually the ship broke up. The rescue of men from the ice and Elephant Island became one of the greatest stories ever known.
We're now commemorating the centenary of Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic expedition. Here at the National Library of Scotland we have an excellent polar collection. And we have many items that cover the centenary both from the time and subsequent historical works.
The young geologist on that expedition was James Mann Wordie. He had studied geology at Glasgow University and was about 22 when he was selected from hundreds of applicants to go south with Shackleton.
Shackleton was looking for scientists to give his expedition some kudos and one of those [scientists] was Wordie. Wordie went on to become president of the Royal Geographical Society, Chairman of the Scott Polar Research Institute and master of St John's College, Cambridge. We're grateful that he gifted his personal large collection of polar books to the National Library of Scotland in the 1950s so we have more than 4,000 books about both poles that came directly from him as well as his personal archive.
The story of the expedition is probably one of the best adventure stories of all time and largely why Shackleton's name is still so well known. He rescued all the men from Elephant Island and got them home. However there were men on the other side of Antarctica, three of whom died so the story that he got everybody home isn't quite true.
Wordie's legacy on the other hand, in gifting his personal collection to us here at the National Library of Scotland means that the public can always go back and refer to books from the time and find out more about what actually happened.
Lucy Roscoe, Teaching Fellow in illustration at Edinburgh College of Art:
Archives are something that I use a lot in my own practice. I love working from museums, libraries and archives. I keep discovering more and they are fantastic sources of stories and narratives, people and objects. The other thing is as lecturers we're always trying to introduce students to using more research methods to inform their work, to inform their practice. Both practically in terms of materials and sources material so anything we can do to broaden their range is really useful.
Maryia Ditchkowska, Edinburgh College of Art student:
I went to the archive to have a look at maps and different types of material and I also went to the National Library to have a look at the exhibition in there. It was the inspiration for the project basically.
Miranda Smith, Edinburgh College of Art student:
It was interesting to see another part of Edinburgh, like the archive library, I’ve never seen that side of it before and the maps were amazing. Some of them were really really old which was really interesting and we got a bit of information about the history as well which I didn’t know about so it was good.
Felicity Hamilton, Edinburgh College of Art student:
History like more on the whole and these expeditions are definitely a good thing to be inspired by. Normally I just think 'Oh, I'm just going to draw a portrait of someone' or something like that. I think it's the first project I guess for me where I really thought about the stories behind something, more. I've definitely been reading a lot more articles about things like that.