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Peary, Robert Edwin, 1856-1920



Robert Edwin Peary was born on May 6, 1856 in Cresson, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Bowdoin College in 1877. Peary made several expeditions to the Arctic, exploring Greenland by dog sled in 1886 and 1891 and returning to the island three times in the 1890s, including the Peary Relief Expedition to Greenland of 1892. In 1895 he was successful in crossing the inland ice. He made important scientific observations and ethnological studies of an Eskimo tribe. His wife accompanied him on two expeditions; their daughter, nicknamed the "Snow Baby," was born in Greenland. Peary's work in the Arctic generated much public interest, but his name is best remembered for his last expedition. In 1909, accompanied by Matthew Henson and four Eskimos, Peary determined that he had reached the North Pole. On his return to civilization, he learned of Cook's claim to reaching the Pole in 1908, and the controversy began. Peary's claim drew wide support, and in 1911 he obtained the official thanks of the U.S. Congress. Then, after eight Arctic expeditions, six attempts to reach the Pole, and some twelve years spent inside the Arctic Circle, Peary retired to his home on Eagle Island, Maine. During World War I, he recognized the value of aviation in warfare and advocated more use of aircraft. His last public appearance was in 1919 at a National Geographic Society meeting, where Vilhjalmur Stefansson effected reconciliation between Peary and an old enemy, General A. W. Greely. In 1920, Peary died in Washington, D.C.

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

Robert E. Peary, South Harpswell, ME to Dr. George F. Kunz, [New York], Letter

Identifier: Mss 914561
Mss 914561
Date(s): 1814-10-11

Letter to Dr. George F. Kunz. Peary replies to a request that the flag he rose at the North Pole be used in a Parade float in New York City. Peary declines use of the flag, but offers another to be used. Peary also recommends his friend and artist Albert Operti to assist with any preparations of the float.

The letter is accompanied by a note to Kunz from F.A. Lucas (mentioned in Peary's letter) stating that he has returned the letter to Kunz per his request.

Robert Peary papers

Identifier: Mss-198
Stefansson Mss-198
Date(s): 1889 to 1970

Robert Edwin Peary (1856-1920), Arctic explorer. Consist of photographs, correspondence and manuscripts relating to his expeditions. A rough working draft of "Northward over the Great Ice" is also included.