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Actic Expedition Collection

Arctic Expeditions of the 1800s

With all the Greely Expedition and Arctic-related posts we’ve done over the course of the year, we thought it would be a good reminder to our readers to let you all know what we have in this collection.

With the closure of Fort Monmouth, the CECOM History Office received a number of boxes containing various materials, to include books, manuals, photographs, collectable papers, and a number of items related to the history of predecessor operations. One such example is a collection of materials related to the Greely Expeditions to the Arctic in the 1880s, which added to some limited reproduced materials already in the Archive.

A. W. Greely

A. W. Greely

Adolphus Greely was a Signal Corps Officer holding the rank as First Lieutenant at the time of the expedition; he would later hold the position as Chief Signal Officer (1887 – 1906). Greely was the commander of the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition on the ship Proteus. The expedition was developed to establish meteorological-observation stations as part of the First International Polar Year and amongst other purposes was commissioned to collect astronomical and polar magnetic data. The expedition is still a topic that is discussed to this day.

Greely Expedition related materials maintained by the Archive include journals of members of the expedition, contemporary news articles, and other related original and facsimiles. Highlights include:

Photographs apparently in part from the collection held by the National Archives and Records Administration, as well as photographs retrieved from a film reel. Items reproduced from originals that include a hand written “Journal of Polar Expedition, 1881-1883” and a letter from U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, C. Petterson, to Greely, Re: Station at Franklin Bay.

Expedition survivors

Expedition survivors

Also included are three original copies of Sgt Hampton S. Gardiner’s Journal, that begins 1881 at St. Johns, New Foundland, Journal after leaving Fort Congor, 1883, and “Journal Lady Franklin Bay Expedition”, “1881 & 1882 & 83.” An 1833 French book found at the “Far North Headquarters” of Lady Franklin Bay Expedition in 1881, that states presented by finder, Donald MacMillan”, to SGT W. Rice at Christmas 1882. There is a collection of letters/telegrams that includes a letter related to a rescue mission from the Chief Signal Officer

Post expeditions items to include copies of “Three Years of Arctic Service, an Account of the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition of 1881 – 1884 and the Attainment of Furthest North”, two books written about the expedition by Greely in 1886. There are also original copies of two article, “Greely at Cape Sabine Bay”, Charles Harlow”, Century magazine, 1885 and “Arctic Exploration”, B.F. DeCosts, a paper given at American Geographical Society, Chickering Hall, 15 May 1880 (1881). There is also a “Ground Plan of Quarters at Fort Conger Grinnel Land,” undated, and a a typed manuscript “When I Stood Close to Death,” By A. Greely, that is undated.

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