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Nef, Evelyn Stefansson, 1913-2009



  • Existence: 1913 - 2009

Evelyn Stefansson Nef was born on July 24, 1913 in New York City. At the age of nineteen she married Bill Baird, a puppeteer who she worked with until their divorce in 1936. Evelyn was an active participant in the cultural life of Greenwich Village where she socialized with many prominent people of her time, including Buckminster Fuller. In 1939 she was hired as a research assistant by Vilhjalmur Stefansson, a well known arctic explorer. They married in 1941. Encouraged by her husband she published two books on the culture of the Arctic, a region she had become to love. "Here is America" was published in 1943, and "Within the Circle" in 1945. In 1951 the Stefansson library, a collection of 20,000 books on everything polar, moved from two cramped New York City apartments to a new home at Dartmouth College. Living primarily in Hanover, Evelyn continued to work with her husband as a researcher and librarian and taught an Arctic Seminar in the Polar Studies Department of the college until Stefansson's death in 1962. She moved to Washington in 1963 where she served as administrator of the American Sociological Association of which she subsequently became a member. In 1964 she married Jon Nef, an economic historian from the University of Chicago who founded and chaired the University's Committee on Social Thought. Nef died in 1988. In 1998 Evelyn Stefansson Nef was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Alaska and another from the Corcoran School of Art in 2000, and Dartmouth College in 2002. In 2001, she received the Icelandic Order of the Falcon Medal of Honor for her continued support of the work done on behalf of the Arctic region. She was a longtime member of the Society of Women Geographers and was its national president from 1969-1971. She was also the president of the Evelyn Stefansson Nef Foundation. At the age of 63 she completed training at the Institute for the Study of Psychotherapy in New York and opened a very successful practice in Washington D.C. Evelyn Stefansson Nef died on Dec. 10, 2009 a the age of 96.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Evelyn Stefansson Nef papers

Stefansson Mss-99
Identifier: Mss-99
Overview Evelyn Stefansson Nef (1913-2009), author. Contains correspondence, mss. of books and articles, travel diaries, personal and business accounts, research files and newspaper clippings, photographs and negatives, audio and video tapes relating to her career as an author and the keeper of Vilhjalmur Stefanssson's legacy.