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Journal kept on board HMS RESOLUTE during the search for the Franklin expedition.


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Collection Archive
Gallery locationNot on display

Record details:

Biographical details The journal was kept during one of the expeditions launched to attempt to locate the lost Franklin Expedition. The expedition described involved HMS RESOLUTE and HMS ASSISTANCE and two tender ships HMS PIONEER and HMS INTREPID. RESOLUTE, captained by Horatio Austin, and ASSISTANCE, captained by Erasmus Ommanney, discovered traces of the Franklin expedition on Beechy Island and Cape Riley, but became trapped in ice in the winter of 1850. Whilst trapped in the ice they continued their search on sledges in the immediate vicinity of the ships, and also produced a newspaper, the Illustrated Arctic News. Many of the activities reported in the newspaper are also recorded in this journal. The title page indicates that the book was presented to William Harvey by Walter William May (1830-1896), mate of HMS RESOLUTE, but it is unclear if Harvey or May is the author of the journal. May was made a Lieutenant for his services on the expedition, and returned to the Arctic on ASSISTANCE in 1852, for which services he was promoted to Commander in 1854. He retired with the rank of Captain in 1865.
Description The account begins “A Memorandum of the searching Expedition going to the artic regents in search of sir John Franklin Commanded by Capt H T Austin C B 1851.” It records the routine on board the ship and the ship’s course, as well as the progress of the search for Franklin, both by the RESOLUTE and ASSISTANCE and in parallel expeditions with which the RESOLUTE came into contact. These include expeditions mounted by Captain William Penny (in the LADY FRANKLIN and SOPHIA), Sir John Ross, Charles Codrington Forsyth in the PRINCE ALBERT (Lady Franklin’s yacht) as well as the American 1st Grinnell Expedition. Key entries include reports of the Franklin expedition from Inuit communities received on the 18th August, and the ASSISTANCE reporting that it had found traces of the expedition at Beechy Island on the 27th August. The book has been used by Harvey’s children for various writing exercises. The end of the log reads and written in blue ink 'this is the resolute log book by William Harvey.' This is believed to have been written at a later date.
Date made 1850-04-25 – 1851-01-09

Finding Reference JOD/256
Catalogue section Manuscript volumes acquired singly by the Museum
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Extent 1 volume
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