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HMS Challenger Papers

Identifier: Coll-46
H.M.S. Challenger Moored at St. Paul's Rocks, Aug 28/73
H.M.S. Challenger Moored at St. Paul's Rocks, Aug 28/73

Browse 1 digital objects in collection

Scope and Contents

At Gen.28-31 the Challenger Papers contain sheets of plates illustrating various marine life forms, and original drawings of marine life forms; engravings, lithographs, photographs, etc. of marine life forms; drawing and engravings of Challenger equipment; and, statistical material, graphs, charts and maps. There are drawings, engravings and photographs of Challenger personnel at various tasks, and of Challenger and its interiors; and, pictures of people and places (not Challenger personnel), and large and small original drawings, engravings, and photographs. There is also miscellaneous textual material, and engraved proof illustrations.

At E2010.07 there are some additional Plates for the Reports of the Challenger Expedition - showing Gasteropoda.


  • Creation: 1872-1876

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Open. Please contact the repository for details.

Biographical / Historical

The Challenger Expedition of 1872-76 was the first great voyage of oceanographical exploration. In forty-one months from December 1872 to May 1876 the wooden steam corvette HMS Challenger visited all the oceans of the world, with the exception of the Arctic. The vessel and crew were provided by the Admiralty, and the naval command was given to Captain (later Sir) George Strong Nares. The scientific staff were supervised by Charles Wyville Thomson (knighted in 1876), a Scottish naturalist and student of marine invertebrates. The expedition was charged to determine deep sea physical conditions including depth, temperature and ocean currents. Charting, surveying, and biological investigations were also carried out. In this programme of oceanographical research, the expedition covered 127,600 kilometres (68,890 nautical miles), gathering observations from 362 stations and making 492 deep soundings and 133 dredgings. Thomson had been appointed Professor of Natural History at Edinburgh University in 1870, and much of the preparation for this voyage of oceanographic exploration took place in Edinburgh. At the end of the expedition the Challenger Office was set up there. The Report on the Scientific Results of the Voyage of H.M.S. Challenger was issued in fifty volumes between 1850 and 1895. When Thomson died in 1882, John Murray succeeded him as Director of the Challenger Office and editor of the Report. Much of the information gathered by the Challenger Expedition is still used today.


5 boxes (1 linear metre)

Physical Location

Gen. 28-31; and CLX-A-911

Outize items (Gen. 29 box 3, and Gen.28.1) on 505.24.6.6

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Legacy acquisition, Gen.28-31, and more recent acquisition February 2010, Accession no: E2010.07

HMS Challenger Papers, 1872-1876
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379