Exhibition: Franklin’s People

The latest exhibition on display at the record office throws light on some of the most important people in life of Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin, each with their own fascinating story.

There are his two wives, the poetic Eleanor, who died tragically young, and the formidable Jane, Lady Franklin, one of the celebrities of the Victorian age. There is also his daughter Eleanor, together with her clergyman husband John Philip Gell and their talented children.

There are also his friends and colleagues, noted explorers in their own right, such as Sir Edward Parry, Sir John Ross and Sir Leopold McClintock and John Rae, as well as people who briefly but spectacularly crossed his path such as the native North American known as Miss Green Stockings.

Items on display include (possibly) one of the last letters written by John Franklin, dated 6 July 1845.  Franklin and his expedition were last seen by Europeans only a few weeks later, on 26 July, after which they were never heard of again.

Visit us to see this and many more items associated with this fascinating individual and his incredible story.

This free exhibition runs from 23rd May –  13th September.

Derbyshire Record Office

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The – almost – last letter written by Sir John Franklin

Our project archivist discovered a letter in our Franklin Collection which he realised must have been one of the last ones Sir John Franklin ever wrote. It is dated 6 July 1845 and was written on Whale Fish Island:

close up date

Franklin and his expedition were last seen by Europeans only a few weeks later, on 26 July, after which they were never heard of again.  The touching letter is to his daughter, Eleanor, and he urges her and her Mama [Lady Franklin] not to be anxious if he does not return within 3 years, as they have stores and provisions enough to last that long.

close up text

We asked our Twitter friends on @FranklinArchive whether they knew of a later letter, and yes, around the same time Franklin wrote a lengthy letter to his wife, Lady Jane, the final part of which is dated 12 July.  That letter is not part of our collection, but perhaps one day the two can be reunited, as they presumably traveled to England together.

Franklin’s last letter to Eleanor is currently on display in our latest exhibition ‘Franklin’s People’, why not pop in and see it for yourself!



The Amazing, Award Winning, Pop Up Archives Project!

The 2019 Derbyshire Heritage Awards took place last Friday (3 May) at the impressive (but rather chilly!) Barrow Hill Roundhouse.  The Record Office was delighted to win the Reaching New Audiences award for the Amazing Pop Up Archives Project.

Derbyshire Heritage Awards 2019

Karen Millhouse and Sarah Chubb with the award for Reaching New Audiences

This Heritage Lottery Funded project was devised and led by archivist Karen Millhouse, working with a group of young people, artists and an experienced family history researcher.  Together they ‘popped up’ at events around the county, bringing archives to places where people would normally never expect to see them.  Hundreds of people came to look at the documents, listen to songs and stories, and tell their own stories of their lives and the place where they lived.

It’s been a great project and we’re so pleased that it has been recognised by this award.  If you’d like to find out more about what the team did, do take a look at some of the blog posts created along the way.  And congratulations to all the award winners on Friday – there is a lot of amazing work going on in Derbyshire!