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USS POLARIS (Charles Francis Hall)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0402 USP
Held at: Royal Geographical Society
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Full title: USS POLARIS (Charles Francis Hall)
Date(s): 1869-1876
Level of description: collection
Extent: 1 file and 1 framed item
Name of creator(s): Coppinger | R W | Surgeon | polar explorer


Administrative/Biographical history:

The USS POLARIS was originally launched as the AMERICA, it was renamed the USS POLARIS in 1871 when it was loaned to Charles Hall's North Polar Expedition. The expedition was the failed first U.S. expedition to the North Pole. Eighteen of its members, including officer George Tyson, were marooned on an ice floe, where they drifted for six months until rescued by another ship. Capt Charles Francis Hall died, Nov 1871 and foul play has been suspected. The expedition ended when the ship ran aground, was crushed by the ice and abandoned by the remainder of the crew.

Charles Frederick Hall was born 1821; business man in Ohio; mounted a rescue expedition to find the survivors of John Franklin's expedition, 1859 (failed); second expedition with the same purpose (failed), 1865-1869 [on this second expedition it has been suggested that Hall killed one of his crew]; expedition to reach the North Pole on the USS POLARIS, 1871; died on the expedition, 1871.


Scope and content/abstract:

Note or manuscript 'Record' left in an Arctic cairn by Surgeon R W Coppinger, 12 May 1876, while with the sledge party from HMS ALERT during that vessel's Arctic expedition. On the reverse of the note is a copy of an earlier 'Record' made by crew member of USS POLARIS, Capt S G Budington, 7 May 1872, reporting the progress of the POLARIS, including the death of Capt Charles Francis Hall, 8 Nov 1871. Presumably Coppinger retrieved the original record from the cairn, returned it to the US government and made a copy on the reverse of his own note to leave in the cairn.

Photocopies of refusal by Canadian Court to take action relating to Charles Francis Hall's alleged shooting of Patrick Coleman during a 1860s expedition to search for the explorer John Franklin, Oct-Dec, 1869, with covering letter from A G E Jones.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Arranged in order of the description in Scope and Content.

Conditions governing access:

Accessible via The Foyle Reading Room. Free of charge for Fellows, Members and those with valid academic identification. All other users pay a charge and must bring identification in order to register on arrival.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Photocopying at the discretion of the Archivist, and subject to completion of an 'application for copies' form. No reproduction or publication without the permission of the RGS-IBG Archivist.

Finding aids:

Collection level description available in the Foyle reading room.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

The collection arrived in two accessions. The Record was found in June 1922 by Dr Layge Koch who presented it to the RGS in 1925. The copies of correspondence were donated by A G E Jones, 1990.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Prepared by Archives volunteer using existing finding aids. Revised by Sarah Drewery.

Rules or conventions:
ISAD(G) ed.2, name authority NRA.

Date(s) of descriptions:
July, 2001; May 2008.

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