Our Discovering Franklin project to catalogue and preserve the archives relating to Sir John Franklin is nearly finished. Within the next couple of months we will be publishing the brand new and very detailed catalogue of the collection. We will also be launching online exhibitions and images for people to explore through an exciting new venture which we are tantalisingly keeping under wraps until we have a definite launch date.
Whilst you’ll have to wait a little longer for our Franklin material, do take a look at an amazing video which Parks Canada have just released giving an underwater tour of H.M.S. Terror, one of Franklin’s ships which disappeared in the Canadian Arctic nearly 175 years ago and was rediscovered in 2016.
Excitingly, their latest exploration shows that records of the expedition are likely to be sitting in the ships, waiting to be recovered. Just imagine being the archivist who gets to catalogue that material!
Here is a nice repair job I carried out on one of our Franklin letters, written by John Richardson to John Franklin in July 1823. It was a particularly satisfying one, as this letter originally had a missing corner piece, which amazingly our project archivist Neil had managed to find! After it had been matched up to its rightful home, I re-attached the piece using a wheat starch paste and spider tissue, and filled a hole with handmade repair paper. See the results below – it just goes to show how easy it is to lose information when paper becomes damaged, but luckily this time we could help!
Letter to Franklin from John Richardson
Missing piece of the letter
Letter before repair
Letter after repair
Missing piece re-attached
Letter after repair – infill
In our Franklin collection we’ve come across this scrapbook:
It was most likely put together by Lady Jane Franklin herself, although we don’t know whether she gave it the rather fabulous title of ‘Arctic scraps’. It is full of newspaper cuttings, prints, and other material related to the efforts to find the missing expedition.
It also includes posters offering rewards for helping in the search: Lady Jane herself offered £3000 to whaling ships willing to take part and the UK government even offered £20,000. The National Archives has a handy currency converter, which tells us that this equates to approximately £240,500 and £1,6 million in today’s money!
We don’t have a £20,000 reward on offer, but we do have a selection of rewards for you to choose from if you donate to our crowdfunding campaign. And if you choose the Behind the Scenes Tour, we’ll even add in a cup of tea and some nice biscuits…
Within the collection of objects that we’ve called ‘Lady Jane’s Museum’ there are three beautiful fans which may have belonged to Lady Jane Franklin or to the Gell family from Hopton Hall. According to an expert at The Fan Museum in Greenwich, the oldest one dates from the seventeenth century:
In the earlier part of the seventeenth century the most commonly used fans were ‘fixed’ and consisted of feathers set into a handle. Later on in the century folded, hand-painted fans, such as the one above, gained in popularity; by the end of the century the folded fans had completely superseded the fixed ones.
Next is an early eighteenth century fan; by this time folding fans were very popular and were being made all over Europe and imported from the Far East:
The third fan dates from around 1805-1810 and is a brisé ivory fan. This type of fan consists only of decorative sticks, with no pleated fabric attached:
The sticks of brisé fans are usually intricately carved and held together with a ribbon which is either glued to each stick, or – as in this case- threaded through pierced openings. The carvings were meant to give the illusion of filigree or lace.
Our fabulous fans are in great condition considering their age and we’ll heed the Fan Museum’s advice by storing them closed in museum boxes. If you’d like to help us look after them, as well as the other objects in Lady Jane’s Museum, you can donate on our crowdfunding page or call our reception on 01629 538347.
A week and a half into our crowdfunding campaign we’ve already raised £565! Every little nudge that will get us closer to our £1000 goal is much appreciated.
I’ve just cleaned and repaired this amazing map of the Arctic; it’s from an 1848 printed copy of the instructions Sir John Franklin was given for his expedition.
This is the repaired map:
The Derbyshire Times has a big article about our crowdfunding campaign and did you catch us – very briefly – on East Midlands Today on Wednesday evening? Great to see so much interest!
And we’ve had another wonderful comment from a supporter:
‘Cultural history is very important and we should do everything necessary to preserve our knowledge of it’
Will you be next to help us preserve our cultural history? Then support us on our crowdfunding page or by calling our reception on 01629 538 347.
Only a few days into our crowdfunding project and we’ve already reached nearly £200! A huge thank you to everyone who has supported us so far, and especially for the lovely comments you’ve left behind, such as:
‘Because the past is as important as the future.’
‘Real history is vital in the midst of meaningless memories. Support this venture for future generations.’
If you agree, then do have a look at our video and support us on our crowdfunding page.
Or you can call our reception on 01629 538 347 and donate over the phone.
This log book from 1821-1822 records the last months of Sir John Franklin’s first independent land expedition to the Arctic (1819-1822), where he intended to travel from Hudson’s Bay to the mouth of the Coppermine River in Coronation Gulf.
It took two years before the expedition came within sight of the sea and only a brief survey of the coast could be undertaken before the expedition had to return because of lack of supplies. Unfortunately, the group then found themselves stranded in the ‘Barren Lands’ west of Hudson’s Bay and were near death when they were rescued by an Indian Chief, Akaitcho. During the months covered by this log book, many members of the 34-strong expedition died of starvation.
Did you get it from our teaser? It showed us having a go at shooting a video to go on our crowdfunding page. Yes, we’re diving into the 21st century and are starting a crowdfunding campaign for the objects in Lady Jane’s Museum. As I’ve mentioned before, Lady Jane Franklin kept some of her most precious mementos in a small museum at her home, where she would show them to visitors. All these lovely objects came to us jumbled up in a box, together with objects kept by the Gell family from Hopton Hall (the family Eleanor Franklin, Lady Jane’s stepdaughter, married into).
Lying loose in a box isn’t very good for any of them, as they are moving about and damaging each other, so we want to package them in such a way that they are safe, but still together as one collection. We’d also like to hire a professional photographer to take high quality photographs of them all, which we can then add to our online catalogue so everyone can see them. Through crowdfunding we want to give people from all over the world the chance to be a part of our Discovering Franklin project and help us look after this amazing collection.
There’s more information on our crowdfunding page, where you can watch that video and find out why we’re not asking for boats…
Lady Jane Franklin has inspired us to try something new – can you guess from our teaser what it is?