The Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1914-1917) had many connections with Scotland and Scottish industry.
Sir Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922) was based in Edinburgh while he worked at the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS). Shackleton's requests for funding and support for the expedition were met from all across Scotland.
Shackleton estimated that he would need at least £60,000 to secure two ships, and two parties of men.
The most significant donation was given by Sir James Key Caird, a jute manufacturer and philanthropist from Dundee. Caird donated a total of £24,000, which amounts to many millions in today's money.
Shackleton approached potential donors directly, and another eventual donor was Lord Rosebery, who Shackleton wrote to from South Georgia before landing in Antarctica. See Shackleton's letter to Lord Rosebery
Ships used for both the expedition and the recovery operation also had connections with Scotland.
The Aurora and the Discovery were both built in Dundee. The rescuing tug, Yelcho, was originally built by Brown's of Greenock.
Expedition staff and crew
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Scientists, artists, labourers and seamen volunteered to take part in the expedition, hoping to explore the Antarctic continent.
Several members of the Endurance Expedition had connections with Scotland, including:
- Arnold Spencer-Smith, chaplain to the Ross Sea Party, worked in Edinburgh as curate at Christ Church and teacher at Merchiston Castle School
- Robert Clark, the biologist, was from Aberdeen, where the crew's doctor Alexander Macklin later worked in the hospitals
- The carpenter Harry 'Chippy' McNish was born in Port Glasgow
- Aeneas Mackintosh and Joseph Stenhouse, commanders of the 'Aurora', were both Scottish
- The party's geologist Alexander Stevens went on to become the first professor of Geography at the University of Glasgow.
James Mann Wordie (1889-1962)
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James Mann Wordie was the expedition's geologist. He was born and educated in Glasgow, and became President of the Royal Geographical Society and Chairman of the Scott Polar Research Institute. He influenced almost every polar and mountaineering expedition leaving Britain over a period of 40 years.
Wordie's personal archive and collection of more than 4,000 polar books are held at the Library, forming the heart of our polar collections. Some of these are on display in 'Enduring Eye'.
Read more about James Mann Wordie in a past treasures display
Materials relating to the Endurance Expedition were on show in the 'Enduring Eye' exhibition, which ran at the Library from 16 June to 12 November 2017.