Sunday, 31 January 2010

Forthcoming paper on HMS Erebus and HMS Terror

Blogging has been a little quiet lately but interesting research into the Franklin Expedition continues in the UK, Canada and elsewhere.

I'm looking forward to reading the forthcoming paper which Peter Carney and I have co-authored on the technology incorporated into HMS Erebus and HMS Terror in 1845 to the Newcomen Society on Wednesday, 10th February, 2010. The reading will take place at the Fellows' Room at the Science Museum in London. Full details are on the Newcomen Society website:

As the Newcomen Society is the world's oldest learned society devoted to the study of the history of engineering and technology, founded in 1920, Peter and I feel very privileged to be able to do that.

What's in the paper? Well, that would be telling, but Peter and I have synthesised very carefully what is known about the ships currently and hope that will be useful for other researchers. We have also come up with one or two surprises, too. As always the two lessons are the critcal importance of primary sources, and the value of open collaboration. Whatever merits the paper may have derive very largely from the process of our two minds looking at the same material with different perspectives, and then debating its meaning until we arrive at a better understanding. We have also found (as if we didn't know already...) that secondary sources cannot be relied upon even for quite basic 'facts' about the Franklin Expedition - always go to the source!

If you are in London and would like to come to the reading, check out the Newcomen Society website and Peter and I will be most glad to meet you then. And if you live in the far North (of England that is, not Nunavut), then the paper will also be read at the wonderful Manchester Museum of Science & Industry in Liverpool Road on 30th March, courtesy of the Newcomen Society.