Scott's Dates

Glenn Marty Stein to The Antarctic Circle (23 Feb 2012):
"I thought the following may be of interest somewhere within The Antarctic Circle.

There are day errors in Scott's published journal. Scott wrote that Feb. 19, 1912 was a Monday, and this was correct. However, between Feb. 20 - March 29, 1912, he was off by one day. The former is stated to be a Monday—but was in fact a Tuesday, while the latter is stated to be a Thursday, but was a Friday.

These errors appear in Scott's Last Expedition: The Personal Journals of Captain R.F. Scott, C.V.O., R.N., on His Journey to the South Pole, (Vol. 1) (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1913; pp. 397 & 410) and evidently in subsequent reprintings. I can only imagine these errors appear in Scott's handwritten journal, and this can easily be checked, as SPRI possesses the original. Wilson's diary shows Feb. 20, 1912 as a Tuesday (Edward Wilson: Diary of the 'Terra Nova' Expedition to the Antarctic 1910-1912 (London: Blandford Press, 1972; p. 243).

The International Conference in 1884 deemed that there would be a single Universal Day and that this would begin at mean midnight at Greenwich. Twenty five time zones were established to the east and west of Greenwich, with the International Date Line lying along the 180° line of longitude. Along this line the calendar moves into a new day but only in local time, which is measured relative to Greenwich Mean Time. Given that the national Service of Commemoration for Captain Scott will be held at St. Paul's Cathedral on Thursday, March 29, 2012, due to Scott having been on the other side of the International Date Line, it will also be exactly 100 years ago to the day of the week that Scott wrote his last journal entry."
The Antarctic Circle to Glenn Marty Stein (23 Feb 2012):
"Very interesting.

I checked my University Microfilms copy of the journals and Scott's entry for 19 February appears "Monday | Feb 19th"

Between then and 29 March the entries that include both the date and the day are:
Monday Feb 20 (Note: this is in error; the 20th was a Tuesday)
Tuesday Feb 21 (really a Wednesday)
Wednesday Feb 22 (really a Thursday)
Saturday Feb 25 (really a Sunday)
Sunday Feb 26 (really a Monday)
Monday Feb 27 (really a Tuesday)
Tuesday Feb 28 (really a Wednesday)
Wednesday Feb 29 (really a Thursday)
Thursday March 1 (really a Friday)
Friday March 2 (really a Saturday)
Saturday March 3 (really a Sunday)
Sunday March 4 (really a Monday)
Monday March 5 (really a Tuesday)
Tuesday March 6 (really a Wednesday)
Wednesday March 7 (really a Thursday)
Thursday March 8 (really a Friday)
Saturday March 10 (really a Sunday)
Sunday March 11 (really a Monday)
Monday March 12 (really a Tuesday)
Wednesday March 14 (really a Thursday)
Friday March 16th or Sat 17th "Lost track of dates but think this last correct." (really a Saturday or Sunday)
Sunday March 18 (really a Monday)
MondayMarch 19 (really a Tuesday)
Thursday March 21 (Note: should be 22nd if Monday March 19 is correct)(21st really a Thursday)
March 29 (No day of the week given; was actually a Friday)
March 29th is the date given for Scott's last entry. He does not give the day itself.
The day—Thursday—has been added in the published versions. Also, Max Jones' unexpurgated version gives Thursday as well; he does not seem to note this as having been added.

What I don't know is is whether Scott kept his journal with the date and day as they would be back in London or they way they would be in his last port of call in NZ. It hurts my brain too much to try to figure out whether NZ is a day ahead or a day behind London.

Actually Scott's journal is at the British Library, not SPRI, and is usually on display."
Max Jones to The Antarctic Circle (23 Feb 2012):
Interesting! I have to confess I'd never noticed he'd got the days wrong in 1912—not sure I've ever heard anybody else had spotted this either! My Oxford World's Classics edition of the journals is based on volume 1 of the 1913 edition, as you know, so the main OWC text followed the 1913 published text. But if I'd spotted it, I would have included a note in Appendix 3 (Although you might argue it's an interesting, but not a "significant" change, as it doesn't change the meaning. I may be clutching at straws here, though…!)

I don't own the microfilm version—borrowed it from Bristol for a year when I was editing the journals. But without looking—and comparing with Wilson et. al. original—I think it more likely it was an error, rather than a decision to be on London time. The abridged Wilson diaries I own, give correct days—Weds. 21 Feb., etc.