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Image: View looking towards one of the ships moored at the edge of the ice pack, with the cliffs of Cape Prescott in the background. Photograph taken in August 1875.  Y301A8A/2

The RCS collections contain photographs and archival papers relating to the Arctic and Antarctic, in particular to the Falkland Islands and South Georgia. This web-page includes brief descriptions of some of these collections, together with links to digital images and catalogues.  The original photographs and papers may be viewed in the Manuscripts Reading Room.


Collection includes:

Antarctic and Sub-Antarctic

Collections include:

  • RCS Y3011U/554-564 Institute of Education collection series of Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey (FIDS) photographs, relating to the rescue of a party of FIDS scientists who were trapped at their base at Hope Bay after the station was gutted by fire in November 1948.
  • RCS Y3011XX/85-148 Sir Raynor Arthur collection. 64 photographs showing official events in the Falkland Islands, Aug. 1953–22 Jan. 1957. Raynor Arthur was appointed Governor and Commander in Chief of the Falkland Islands in August 1953 and arrived at Port Stanley on 1 April 1954. He was appointed KCMG in January 1957 and left on 22 January 1957.
  • RCS Y3011XX/149-167 Sir Raynor Arthur collection. A series of photographs relating to the Governor's responsibilities for the Falkland Islands Dependencies. Arthur paid four visits, November - December 1954, February - March, 1955, March -April 1956, and December 1956 - January 1957 (with the Duke of Edinburgh). Prints 151-165 are of Graham Land, Antarctica.
  • RCMS 277 Falkland Islands papers of William Dean. William Markham Dean (1881-1953) was Chairman of the Falkland Islands Company, 1938-1952, and wrote a history of the firm. The collection comprises papers and photographs relating to the history of the Falkland Islands and the Falkland Islands Company; correspondence and genealogical papers concerning the Dean family. The photographs have been digitised and may be viewed on Cambridge Digital Library.
  • The Falkland Islands surveyed by Captains R Fitz Roy and B J Sulivan, RN and Commander W. Robinson, RN, 1838-1845, with additions to 1883  - a survey dating from c1913. Zoom in to explore the geology, geography and human occupation of the islands, and their surrounding waters.
  • RCMS 273 Falkland Islands Album. The album may have been the property of the Hamond family. The initials G.M.H. or R.C.H. may stand for Georgena Maria and Richenda Catherine Hamond, daughters of Captain Philip Hamond, who lived in the Falkland Islands. The first thirty pages contain a miscellaneous collection of inserted photographs, original drawings and watercolours, mostly of maritime interest, ranging in date from 1845 to 1900. There are eight original pictures of the Falkland Islands area, some of which are initialled G.M.H. or R.C.H. The last item is a photograph of troops embarking for the South African War in 1900. Five pictures from the album have been digitised.
  • RCMS Marnham B-C John Ewart Marnham collection. 88 images in 2 files relating to a visit to the Falkland Islands, 1962. 34 images (file C) are of birds of the Falkland Islands.
  • RCMS 351 Sir John Spry collection. Papers and photographs relating to Sir John Spry's legal service in Saint Helena and the British Antarctic Territory. Spry was appointed Chief Justice of the British Ocean Territory (1981-1987) and of Saint Helena and its Dependencies (1983-1992). From 1991 Spry served as President, British Antarctic Territory Court of Appeal, and Justice of Court of Appeal, Falkland Islands. He died on 17 May 1999.
  • Y30795B  South Georgia and whaling activities, 1914–1929. A collection of 80 photographs and postcards which had belonged to Hester McGivering who had worked for Christian Salvesen Limited.


The Royal Commonwealth Society Library is not actively collecting new archival collections, photographs or manuscripts. However, donations of small collections which complement its existing collections will be considered. Potential donors should contact the Smuts Librarian with details of their collection including, in the case of photograph collections, approximate number of images, whether or not they are captioned, the geographical regions covered, dates, and, where known, the names of photographers or collectors. Consideration will be given to the size and condition of the collection, as well as its subject content and provenance.  If the Library feels unable to accept a collection, advice about alternative repositories will be given.

Contact us

Please address enquiries about RCS holdings to:

RCS Curator
Cambridge University Library
West Road