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Historic polar images

The Scott Polar Institute's photographic negatives are a unique resource but also an extremely fragile one. The Freeze Frame project will digitise over 20,000 photographic negatives from 1845-1960, representing some of the most important visual resources for research into British and international polar exploration.

Digitisation of related documents - information from personal journals and official reports from expeditions on which these photographs were taken - will provide historical and cultural context for the images. It is also intended to add context to the images by displaying them alongside selected items from our pre-eminent collection of polar fine art, prints, drawings, and manuscript materials.

The International Polar Year 2007-08 is the first of its kind for fifty years. The timing of the IPY, coupled with growing interest in climate change, provides a unique opportunity for online resources at the Scott Polar Research Institute to reach a wider learning community than ever before. The forthcoming centenaries of the 'Heroic Age' expeditions to discover the Poles also demand of us that this visual archive is accessible to a global audience.

The Freeze Frame project aims to develop an online database of freely available visual and textual resources to support learning, teaching and research into topics relating to the history of Arctic and Antarctic exploration and science. Through a series of interpretative web pages and e-learning resources the project will provide access to hidden collections for all educational levels. It will encourage users to discover polar environments through the eyes of those explorers and scientists who dared to go into the last great wildernesses on earth.

For more information or for information on access to high-resolution versions of these images, please refer to the SPRI picture library.

News

The collections held by the Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge, are among the richest in the world for the study of polar environments. Work begins in April 2007 on the Freeze Frame project to capture and preserve our archive of historical images in digital form.

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