Summary Information

Repository
George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library, Brunswick, Maine 04011
Creator
Peary, Robert E., (Robert Edwin), 1856-1920
Title
Robert Edwin Peary collection
ID
M145
Date [inclusive]
1855-2010, undated
Extent
1.0 linear feet
Language
Abstract
Collection contains correspondence (1881-1957), including letters written by Peary's chief assistant, Donald MacMillan (Bowdoin 1898); notes and observations written by expedition member, Langdon Gibson (1891-1892); a published edition of Extracts from Commander Peary's Personal Diary: of his trip to the North Pole (1910).

Preferred Citation

Cite as: Robert Edwin Peary Collection, George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library, Brunswick, Maine


Biographical/Historical Note

Robert Edwin Peary (1856-1920), son of Charles N. and Mary Wiley Peary, was born on May 6, 1856 at Cresson, Pennsylvania. Member of the Bowdoin Class of 1877, Peary was best known as the Arctic explorer who discovered the North Pole (April 6, 1909). However, in the years preceding and following this great event he served in the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey and the United States Navy, first as engineer, ultimately rising to the rank of Rear Admiral in 1909. Following surveys for the Nicaragua Canal (1887-1888), he turned to Arctic exploration, which occupied much of his time from 1891 until 1909. He was the author of the following books: Northward over the Great Ice(1898), Snowland Folk(1904), Nearest the Pole(1907), The North Pole(1910). He was President of the International Geographical Congress in 1904, received the Legion of Honor from France in 1913, and served as an Overseer of the College from 1917 until his death on February 20, 1920.

Admiral Peary married Josephine, daughter of Herman H. and Madalena Schmid Diebitsch, on August 11, 1888. They had two children, Marie Peary Stafford and Robert Edwin Peary.


Scope and Content

This collection contains correspondence (1881-1957), which includes letters written by Peary's chief assistant, Donald MacMillan (Bowdoin 1898); notes and observations written by expedition member, Langdon Gibson (1891-1892); a published edition of Extracts from Commander Peary's Personal Diary: of his trip to the North Pole (1910); documents regarding two purchases of islands in Casco Bay (1907); images, most notable is one of President Theodore Roosevelt with Peary; clippings, ephemera and realia. For additional Peary material see: alumni scrapbooks, class of 1877.


Administrative Information

Publication Information

 George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library, Brunswick, Maine 04011

3000 College Station
Brunswick, Maine, 04011
(207) 725-3288
scaref@bowdoin.edu

Access Restrictions

No restrictions.


Collection Inventory

 M145.1 Correspondence, 1881-1957, undated   0.1 linear feet

Series Description:

The correspondence consists of letters written to and from Robert Edwin Peary and his family, beginning after his graduation from Bowdoin in 1877, and extending beyond his death in 1920. Many of the letters are personal correspondence between Peary family members and close friends, such as Donald Baxter MacMillan and Captain Charles Morrill. There is also business correspondence concerning preparations for Peary's Arctic expeditions, maintenance of Peary family estates, and Peary's purchase of several islands in Casco Bay.

Arrangement:

Arranged chronologically.

Access Restrictions:

No restrictions.

Box Folder
1 1

1881 - 1910 

1 1a

1891, Expedition to Greenland 

1 2

1907, Purchase of islands in Casco Bay 

1 3

1911 - 1920 

1 4

Post 1920 

1 5

undated 


 M145.2 Clippings, 1855-2000, undated   0.3 linear feet

Series Description:

Newspaper and magazine clippings concerning Peary, his family, his Arctic expeditions, and Arctic exploration. The clippings date from 1855, covering events such as Peary planting the flag at the North Pole in 1909, his support for an aerial coast patrol 1915-1917, and the U.S. Government issuing a stamp in his memory in 1959. Other topics include books written about Peary and the ongoing controversy over whether or not Peary actually discovered the North Pole.

Arrangement:

Arranged chronologically.

Access Restrictions:

No restrictions.

Box Folder
1 6

1855 - 1899 

1 7

1900 - 1919 

1 8

1920 - 1939 

1 9

1940 - 1949 

1 10

1950 - 1956 

1 11

1957 - 1958 

1 12

1959 

1 13

1960 - 1964 

1 14

1965 - 1969 

1 15

1970 - 1979 

1 16

1980 - 2000 

1 17

undated 

Ovsz-Box
C1

Reproduction of NY Times for September 7, 1909 "Peary discovers the North Pole" 


 M145.3 Miscellaneous Biographical Material, 1877-2010, undated   0.2 linear feet

Series Description:

Miscellaneous biographical material consists of documents, ephemera, typescripts, and commemorative material related to Peary's life and works. The material includes a program for Bowdoin Class of 1877's graduation exercises and the agenda and Chapel Talk for "Peary at the Pole: a 75th Anniversary Celebration" held at Bowdoin in 1984.

Arrangement:

Arranged chronologically.

Access Restrictions:

No restrictions.

Box Folder
1 18

1877 - 1889 

Ovsz-Box
C1

1886 North Polar chart 

Box Folder
1 19

1890 - 1909 

1 20

1891-1892, "Atlantic Walrus" by Langdon Gibson 

1 21

1892, "Notes on Arctic Birds" by Langdon Gibson 

1 22

1910 - 1929 

Ovsz-Box
C1

1911 Mar 4, Certificate from Congress 

Box Folder
1 23

1930 - 1949 

1 24

1950 - 1969 

1 25

1970 - 1993 

1 26

2000 Apr 27, 91st anniversary of expedition, Arlington National Cemetery 

1 27a

2001-2009, n.d., Peary's Fryeburg, Maine connection 

1 27b

2009, "The Dash," newsletter of Freeport Historical Society with articles about Peary 

1 27c

2010 Spring, "Peary and His Steamboat Agent: Buying Islands--Quietly," Eagle Island Journal, v.15, no.1 

1 27

undated 


 M145.4 Pamphlets, 1887-1922   0.3 linear feet

Series Description:

Pamphlets written by Robert Edwin Peary, or related to Peary's Arctic expeditions. Highlights of this series include a published edition of "Extracts from Commander Peary's Personal Diary: of his Trip to the North Pole", and "Bird notes from North Greenland" by expedition member Langdon Gibson.

Arrangement:

Arranged chronologically.

Access Restrictions:

No restrictions.

Box Folder
1 28

1887 - 1899 

1 29

1900 - 1904 

1 30

1905 - 1909 

1 31

"Extracts from Commander Peary's Personal Diary of his Trip to the North Pole", 1910 

1 32

1910 - 1914 

1 33

1915 - 1919 

1 34

1920 - 1922 

1 35

"Bird notes from North Greenland" by Langdon Gibson, 1922 


 M145.5 Images, 1877-1959, undated   0.1 linear feet

Series Description:

Photographs and images of Peary, his expeditions, and various other people and places. Highlights of this series include a photograph of Peary with President Theodore Roosevelt, an engraving by artist Albert Operti, a postcard by Operti entitled "Commander R.E. Peary, C.E. United States Navy", and a photograph of the Robert Edwin Peary Memorial Monument.

Arrangement:

Arranged alphabetically by image type, and then by subject.

Access Restrictions:

No restrictions.

 M145.5.1 Engravings 

Ovsz-Box
C2

Arctic scene by Albert Operti 

 M145.5.2 Ink Drawings 

Box Folder
1 36

Peary in fur clothing, n.d. (one view, two sizes) 

 M145.5.3 Negatives 

Box Folder
1 37

Miscellaneous, n.d. - subjects unidentified 

 M145.5.4 Photographs 

Box Folder
1 38

Bowdoin flag from 1909 Peary polar expedition 

1 39

Bronze bust of Peary presented by Bowdoin class of 1877, n.d. (two views) 

1 40

"Class of 1877, Eagle Island", 1912 Jun 28 

1 41

"Dogs from Williamsport, PA", 1959 Apr 6 (two views) 

1 42

"Flag Island, Peary's lead dog", n.d. 

1 43

Miscellaneous, n.d. - subjects unidentified 

1 44

Miscellaneous nautical, n.d. with unidentified people and places 

1 45

Peary, Bowdoin class of 1877 photograph 

1 46

Peary in fur clothing with his dogs, n.d. 

1 47

Peary in pleasure boat with unidentified people, n.d. 

1 48

Peary in uniform, signed "R.E. Peary", portrait view, n.d. 

Ovsz-Box
C2

Peary in uniform, titled "Admiral Robert E. Peary, class of 1877", portrait view, n.d. 

C2

Peary with Captain Roald Amundsen and Sir Ernest H. Shackleton, 1913 Jan 16 (two copies) 

Box Folder
1 49

Peary with Theodore Roosevelt, n.d. 

1 50

Robert Edwin Peary Memorial Monument, erected 1932 

 M145.5.5 Portrait Prints 

Ovsz-Box
C2

Bronze bust of Peary from Century Magazine, 1910 Mar 

C2

Josephine Diebitsch-Peary seated outdoors with a dog at her side, n.d. 

Box Folder
1 51

Peary in fur clothing, n.d. 

1 52

Peary in uniform, n.d. 

 M145.5.6 Postcards 

Box Folder
1 53

Postcard by Albert Operti titled "Commander R.E. Peary, C.E. United States Navy", n.d. (two copies) 

1 54

Postcard (metallic) titled "Launching of the Roosevelt, Peary's Arctic ship, Bucksport, ME 1905" 


 M145.6 Realia, 1906, undated   2.0 items

Series Description:

A frame containing both the pin worn by Peary when he reached the "farthest north," 87[degree]6', in 1906, and a piece of fringe from the American flag he unfurled there. There is also a miniature Inuit sledge made entirely with a nail.

Arrangement:

Arranged alphabetically.

Access Restrictions:

No restrictions.

MRealia-Box
1

Pin worn by Commander R.E. Peary '77,when he reached the Farthese North, 87 [degree16', in April, 1906, and piece of fringe of American flag which he unfurled at that point [framed]. 

1

Sledge - miniature (six inches long) Inuit sledge, undated, made entirely with a nail. Brought home from North Greenland by Dr. Edward E. Vincent, surgeon of the Peary polar expedition of 1893. 

1

Copper Plate (removed from scrapbook)