Recruiting - then and now

Discovery expedition 1901-04, Shackleton and broken sledge
Discovery expedition 1901-04, Shackleton and broken sledge
Expeditioners dine together at what would prove to be Captain Scott's last birthday party

As Antarctica has become a more familiar place, the qualities sought in expeditioners have become much more specific.

When Shackleton was planning his famous second (1914-1916) expedition to Antarctica, he advertised for expedition members:

Men wanted for Hazardous Journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.

He received five thousand applications, from a blend of drifters, adventurers, idealists and escapists.

  • Ask the students to compare this advertisement with the current advertisements for positions with the Australian Antarctic Division.
  • What are the obvious differences, and the subtle ones? Is a different sort of person likely to apply to the modern advertisement? (Salaries and working conditions are better than they were, there's an emphasis on Government regulations, and women are eligible.) In response to its advertisement, the Australian Antarctic Division receives about 2,500 applications for the full range of about 100 wintering and summering positions each year.
  • Students could write their own application for Shackleton's expedition, and then write another for a current Australian Antarctic Division position.

Find more activities on the selection of Antarctic expeditioners in the 'Living' unit.

This page was last modified on January 23, 2014.