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Discovering Franklin

With the help of an Archives Revealed grant, we have catalogued the papers of the ill-fated polar explorer Sir John Franklin, and his family.
Sir John Franklin

Sir John Franklin (1786 to 1847) was a Lincolnshire born officer in the British Royal Navy who led the famous Franklin Expedition to discover the Northwest Passage. Two ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, set off from London in 1845 with a crew of 129 men. When they reached Canada, the ships disappeared in the ice and their crew all perished under mysterious circumstances.

After his only daughter, Eleanor, married into the Gell family of Hopton Hall, Sir John Franklin's papers came into the Gell family archive which is now at Derbyshire Record Office. It contains many of Franklin's letters, including two sent from Greenland before the expedition disappeared, as well as letters, diaries and writings of Sir John's first wife, the poet Eleanor Anne Porden, his second wife, Jane Griffin, and his daughter Eleanor.

The catalogue of this collection is now online. The letters in this collection are attached to this page.

Take a look at our online exhibition, the last voyage of Sir John Franklin.

With a grant from Archives Revealed, and help from volunteers, the papers have now been catalogued in detail so that their secrets can at last be uncovered.

A grant from The Pilgrim Trust, distributed through the National Manuscript Conservation Trust has helped us to fund the repackaging of the collection to ensure its preservation.

You can follow progress on the project's Discovering Franklin Twitter account and find out more about the collection on the Derbyshire Record Office blog.