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Polar Exploration: Primary Sources in the Manuscript Division

The Library of Congress holds a multitude of primary source material associated with the history of polar exploration. This guide focuses on manuscript collections from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century and selected external resources.


The Manuscript Division preserves, arranges, and makes available for research historically significant personal papers and organizational records that have been donated to the Library.

The Manuscript Division's collections provide a wealth of primary source material associated with polar exploration, including letters, diaries, sketches, pamphlets, newspaper clippings, and other historical documents. The content of this guide is not intended to be comprehensive, but provides an overview of selected manuscript materials to help researchers navigate collections in the Manuscript Reading Room. The bulk of this guide is focused on polar exploration in the late nineteenth century to mid-twentieth century and includes a brief timeline that highlights prominent dates within this time period.

This guide also provides links to selected manuscript collections and digital materials such as documents, books, and images that are available from the Library of Congress. In addition, it provides links to recommended external websites focusing on polar exploration and a bibliography containing selected works for further reading.