November 14, 2019

Today in History: Robert E. Peary

Peary on the main deck of steamship "Roosevelt"
Today in History–May 6–the Library of Congress features explorer Robert E. Peary, born on this date in 1856. Trained as a civil engineer, Peary first traveled to Nicaragua in 1884 to survey a route for a canal. In 1886, Peary ventured north and began his polar expeditions in Greenland, where he and his assistant Matt Henson learned arctic survival skills from the Inuit. Shortly before Peary announced his success in reaching the North Pole in 1909, Dr. Frederick A. Cook (a companion from an 1891 journey) claimed that he had reached the pole a year earlier. Find out more about Peary and this controversy by visiting the Today in History section, then click the links below to access all types of primary sources related to Peary, Henson, Cook, and the North Pole.

Arctic Explorer Robert E. Peary Was Born May 6, 1856 America’s Library

Departure of Peary [and the] “Roosevelt” from New York (film)

Robert E. Peary image set

Matt Henson image set

Books about Robert E. Peary

Matt Henson recollections on the day he retired

Robert E. Peary & the North Pole front-page newspaper coverage

More newspaper articles about Robert E. Peary & the North Pole

Topics in Chronicling America – The Race to the North Pole

Primary Source Spotlight: Frederick A. Cook

Featured Source: A coldness between them guided primary source analysis activities

Who Discovered the North Pole? Smithsonian Magazine April 2009

World Spotlight: Arctic Circle & the North Pole primary sources and more

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