Category Archives: News

The Nimrod Expedition (1907-1909)


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This piece is the announcement in the March issue of The Scottish Geographic Magazine 1907 of a New Antarctic Expedition (later known as the Nimrod Expedition) headed by the Anglo-Irish Polar Explorer Ernest Shackleton.  Shackleton was determined to make amends after he was sent home early from the Discovery Expedition (1901-1904) on health grounds.


The Nimrod Expedition (1907-1909)

New Antarctic Expedition.

Ernest Shackleton – Ice FieldMr. E . H. Shackleton, lately Secretary of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, is organising a new expedition to antarctic regions, which is to leave this country in October next.  The plans of the new expedition, as meantime outlined, are as follows:

On its departure the expedition will proceed to New Zealand, and thence will go down to the winter quarters of the Discovery in latitude 77 degrees 50′ S.  After landing a shore party of explorers, the ship will proceed back to Lyttelton, New Zealand, thus avoiding the risk of being frozen in like the Discovery, and in the following year she will return to pick up the explorers.  If funds permit, the expedition will land a party of men at Mount Melbourne, on the coast of Victoria Land, and will try to reach from that point, which is the most favourable, the south magnetic pole; but the main object of the explorers is to follow out the discoveries made on the southern sledge journey from the Discovery.

It is held that the southern sledge party of the Discovery would have reached a much higher altitude if they had been more adequately equipped for sledge work; and in the new expedition, in addition to dogs, Siberian ponies will be taken, as the surface of the land or ice over which the party will have to travel will be eminently suited for this mode of sledge travelling.  Further, a novel feature will be the taking of a special type of motor car suitable for use on the surface of the ice.  The members of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society will cordially wish that all success may attend Mr. Shackleton’s enterprise.

Excerpt from The The Scottish Geographical Magazine – Volume 23  – published in 1907


Further Reading and External Links

Nimrod Expedition

Ernest Shackleton

Discovery Expedition

Robert Falcon Scott

Napoleon and the Institute of Egypt – 1798


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The Institute of Egypt formed by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1798, capitalised on the work of scholars and technical experts to support the French expeditionary force. It was burnt down on 17th December 2011 – thousands of historical documents were lost in the fire.  Below is an excerpt from 1898 – published in the Westminster review detailing Napoleons involvement.  Here is a recent news article about the fire

 Napoleon and the Institute of Egypt – 1798

NapoleonThe Institute of Egypt must not be passed over.  Composed of the savants of the expedition, Napoleon himself figuring in it as a mathematician, it had four sections, like its Paris prototype; mathematics, physics, political economy, literature and art.  Monge was president, Napoleon vice-president.

It met twice a week, and busied itself with the manufacture of saltpetre, the erection of windmills, hydraulic machines for supplying cisterns, bread-making, substitutes for wine, dyes, ophthalmia, the fauna, flora, and antiquities of the country.  The ornamental was mingled with the useful.  Perseval de Grandmaison recited translations of Tasso and Camoens, and Marcel turned passages of the Koran into French verse.  Napoleon was a regular attendant, and read a paper on the Cairo rate of mortality.  At one sitting Monge explained the mirage. Two commissions were sent out to Upper Egypt to report on its monuments, and these were attended with considerable risk, for even an escort, though indispensable, did not always ensure safety.

The library was open to all comers.  So also were Berthollet’s chemical experiments, which the natives, however, took for alchemy.

A printing office was under the same roof, and the garden behind was converted into a botanic garden, an observatory being also erected in it.  Napoleon, by the way, who occupied Ibrahim’s palace, had the spacious garden, an Oriental thicket, cut up into avenues and adorned with fountains.  Two newspapers in French were published by Desgenettes, one scientific, the other political, but the file of the latter is disappointing. European news naturally fills a large part of it, and the Egyptian information is meagre.  It was carried on from August [1798] to June [1801].

Napoleon, of course, visited the Pyramids and Suez.  On reaching the foot of the first pyramid, he set his savants to run a race in scrambling to the top, while he remained behind, laughing boisterously and spurring them on.  Monge, though by no means the youngest, for he was fifty-two, won the race. It is not easy to imagine the “great unamusable,” as Talleyrand styled him, indulging in merriment, but Napoleon was then under thirty, and had not yet felt the cares of empire.

Excerpt from The Westminster Review – Volume 150 – 1898


Further Reading and External Links

Saving Egypts Precious Fire-Bombed Books 

National Geographic – Temple of Knowledge Article

The Times Office, London – 1853


Times Office London

THE above is a view of the Times Office, taken in October, [1853].  It is situated at the end of rather an obscure court or lane, in the heart of London, in the vicinity of St. Paul’s Church; a small portion of the dome or spire appears above the roof of the building.  Viewed in its several aspects, this unpretending structure may be considered as the most important place in the world.  The power which emanates from this spot is “greater than the throne,” and controls, in a great degree, the destinies of a mighty empire, and even, to some extent, the world itself.  The principal entrance is at the door over which is a Tablet, on which is inscribed the following:-

“This Tablet was erected to commemorate the extraordinary exertions of the Times Newspaper, in the exposure of a remarkable fraud upon the mercantile public, which exposure subjected the proprietors to a most expensive lawsuit.  At a meeting of Merchants, Bankers, &c, at the Mansion House, on the 1st day of October, A.D. [1841], the most Honorable Lord Mayor in the chair, the following resolutions were agreed to.  Here follows the Resolves, &c

At the close of the meeting above mentioned, 2,700 pounds were subscribed.  The proprietors of the Times, refusing to be reimbursed their heavy costs incurred by them in the above-mentioned suit.  It was resolved, that 150 guineas be applied to the erection of this Tablet, and a similar one in the Royal Exchange, and that the surplus of the fund raised should be invested in the purchase of three per cent, consols, the dividends to be applied to the support of two scholarships, to be called the “Times Scholarships.”

The door over which “The Times Office” sign appears, is the advertising office.  The door at which the papers are delivered is on the other side of the building.  The Times was the first newspaper ever printed by steam.  This was in 1814.  The general speed at which the paper is now printed is ten thousand copies an hour. The daily circulation is about fifty-two thousand, and from eight to nine tons of paper are daily used.  Each sheet costs the publisher a penny and a-half, or three cents, before it is printed; upwards of three hundred thousand dollars are paid to the government for stamps, a penny, or two cents, being paid on each number issued.  Its advertising business is very great, all quack notices are excluded, and it is said, that the most extravagant sum would not procure the insertion of a line of an immoral tendency.  It has correspondents all over the civilized world, and during the sessions of Parliament, a large number of skillful reporters are employed who are relieved every half hour.

Excerpt from European Historical Collections by John Warner Barber 1855



The Beginning of a New Chapter

Today marks the end of one chapter and the beginning of a new one for us at Ultrapedia HQ – with the completion of our summer project to dramatically update and improve the library.

This involved major spelling corrections throughout the entire library and we’ve had a good stab at language modernisation (ie: replacing an old language word with the modern version of the word; a simple example is to replace ‘kinge’  with ‘king’).  We’re also experimenting with placing ‘hooks’ in dates by enclosing them in square brackets  [ ].  You will see them as you browse the text.

We’ve also expanded the library by an additional 44 years, by overcoming some system issues with speed and response times as well as ironing out a few bugs.

The Ultrapedia Library now contains over 100 years from 1820 to 1923;  with over 137,000 documents;  over 7 million pages, over 16 million different words and over 2.6 million distinct entities.

Today’s updates can be viewed here, or you might like to read some of our favourites:

  Diet of Worms   The Battle of Ticonderoga   The Witches of Warboys   Social Change and the Telegraph

Remember to use the search feature to get the best from the library, as the extracts here represent but a small fraction of what there is.

Expanding the library by 34 years (1866-1923)


This update covers the years 1866 to 1923 – expanding the library by 34 years.  Previously the years covered were from 1900 to 1923, so by including a further 34 years we’re now covering from 1866 to 1923; more than doubling the library in terms of the number of years included.

LIBRARY Statistics                                                                   

82564     Documents in the Library

1,742,784,949     Total Words

10,104,790     Different words

2,585,679     Different Entities (Person, Place or Footnote)


Discover more about common topics of today from the past:

Members of Parliament     Afghanistan      Olympic Games     Astronomy     Banking Laws