Polar Project - the digitization of old images from the polar regions

Over 7,000 images from Swedish polar expeditions and research trips have been digitized and can be searched in Alvin, Uppsala University Library's platform for digital collections and digitized cultural heritage. To find polar images in Alvin, search: polar expeditions. It is also possible to search for a specific expedition or research trip. See an index of them below.

In addition to saving an invaluable cultural heritage, the digital version of this unique trove of images serves as reference material for research. It will contribute new knowledge of the polar regions and climate change while also providing researchers with visual examples of the conditions of research trips.

The images have been digitized in a collaborative project between Stockholm University (Department of Physical Geography), the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (the Center for History of Science), the Swedish Museum of Natural History, the University of Gothenburg and Uppsala University (University Library) and the project was funded by the Swedish Research Council from 2012–2014.

Materials from 1868 to 1957–1958, and materials from the archives of participating institutions have been digitized. More materials from the 1960s and significant archives from polar expeditions in other institutions are not yet digital.

In a brief interview on Radio Sweden’s Vetenskapsradion Forum (Science Radio Forum), Professor Per Holmlund of Stockholm University, project leader, answers questions about digitizing the images (16 November 2015). Listen to the interview.

Tyrone Martinsson of the University of Gothenburg, one of the project participants, contributes to a more detailed segment. The programme addresses how older images can be used to study the effects of climate change on the environment. Listen to the segment.

The project produced an exhibition at the Stockholm Observatory Museum in 2013. Read more in the exhibition catalogue: Arctic in focus: historical photographs from Swedish polar expeditions

In conjunction with the initiative to digitize and register the images, information has been excerpted from Gösta H. Liljequist’s large volume from 1993 on Swedish polar research. Read the digital version: High latitudes: a history of Swedish polar travels and research. Alvin contains references from each expedition to information in High Latitudes. The work has been digitized with assistance from the Swedish Polar Research Portal.

Polar expeditions and research trips available in Alvin:

  • The Spitsbergen expedition of 1868
  • The Spitsbergen expedition of 1872-1873
  • The Vega expedition through the North-East Passage 1878-1880
  • The Polar Year 1882-1883
  • The Greenland expedition of 1883
  • A voyage of reconnaissance to Spitsbergen 1892 (Axel Hamberg)
  • Axel Hamberg and the Sarek investigations 1895-1931
  • De Geer’s Spitsbergen expedition of 1896
  • The balloon flight of  S. A. Andrée in 1897
  • The Svalbard expedition of 1898
  • The Swedish-Russian Arc-of-Meridian-expeditions in Svalbard, 1898-1902, incl. the Swedish reconnaissance expedition with the Ran 1898
  • Nathorst’s expedition to Greenland in 1899
  • J. G. Andersson’s expedition to Beeren Island (Bjørnøya) in 1899
  • The Swedish Antarctic expedition of 1901-1903 under Otto Nordenskjöld
  • The Spitsbergen expedition of 1908 and the geological excursion to Spitsbergen 1910
  • Voyage to Helags and Sylarna 1908
  • Voyage to Kebnekaise 1910
  • Voyage to Kebnekaise 1914
  • Voyage to Kebnekaise 1916-1917
  • Voyage to Torneträsk 1917
  • Voyage to the glacier of Mårma 1918
  • Voyage to Kebnekaise 1922
  • The Maud in the Polar Sea 1922-1925
  • The Swedish-Norwegian expedition to Spitsbergen 1931
  • Norwegian Polar Institute 1936
  • Norwegian Polar Institute 1938
  • The British-Norwegian-Swedish palaeontological expedition to Spitsbergen in 1939
  • The Swedish-Norwegian expedition in 1939-1940 to northeast Greenland
  • The Norwegian-British-Swedish Antarctic expedition 1949-1952
  • The glaciological Svalbard expedition of 1957 and 1958


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