While a group from the Conservators of the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust were restoring an expedition base in Antarctica, they discovered a small box contained within a block of ice. When they extracted and opened it, they found that they had made quite a discovery. Inside were the clumped-together negatives of 22 never-before-seen photos that documented life of Antarctic explorers 100 years ago.
The box of photographs was most likely left in Captain Scott’s hut by Ernest Shackleton’s 1914-1917 Ross Sea Party, an expedition that met with tragedy. During a massive blizzard their ship floated away, leaving them stranded. They were eventually rescued, but not before 3 men died.
These photos capture the men before the blizzard.
Alexander Stevens on Aurora deck, chief scientist and geologist.
Iceberg and land, Ross Island.
Alexander Stevens on the Aurora.
Big Razorback Island, McMurdo Sound. This photo was most likely taken from the deck of the Aurora in January 1915.
Also taken from the Aurora but looking South to Hut Point Peninsula.
While nitrate film has the ability to last for thousands of years at a low temperature, the incredible condition these photos are in has plenty to do with the work of the Trust. After being frozen for almost 100 years, they had to take great care to gently restore the negatives by separating them from one from another, cleaning them, removing the mold, and finally consolidating the cellulose nitrate image layers. Once that was complete they were turned into digital positives.