Grinnell, Henry, 1799-1874

Alternative names
Birth 1799-02-18
Death 1874-06-30

Biographical notes:

Businessman and philanthropist.

From the description of Signature of Henry Grinnell, undated. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 79450582

Henry Grinnell was born on 13 February 1799 at New Bedford, Massachusetts. He was educated at the New Bedford Academy and, at the age of nineteen, was employed as a clerk in the commission house of H D and E B Sewell in New York City. In 1825, he joined his brothers, Joseph and Moses, and whaling captain Preserved Fish, to form the successful shipping company Fish, Grinnell and Co. (later renamed Grinnell, Minturn and Co). Retiring from the company in 1850, Grinnell pursued his interest in Arctic voyages, financing four expeditions to the Canadian Arctic in the search for Sir John Franklin's missing Northwest Passage expedition, the United States Franklin Search Expedition [first Grinnell expedition], 1850-1851 (leader Edwin De Haven), the United States Franklin Search Expedition [second Grinnell expedition], 1853-1855 (leader Elisha Kent Kane), the United States Whaling and Franklin Search Expedition, 1860-1862 (leader Charles Hall) and the United States Franklin Search Expedition, 1864-1869 (leader Charles Hall). Grinnell also supported American attempts on the North Pole, sponsoring the United States North Polar Expedition, 1860-1861 (leader Isaac Hayes), and the United States North Polar Expedition, 1871-1873 (leader Charles Hall).

He served as a founding member and early president of the American Geographical and Statistical Society and was elected an honorary corresponding member of the Royal Geographical Society in 1862. He died on 30 June 1874. Grinnell Land, now Grinnell Peninsula, is named for him.

From the guide to the Henry Grinnell collection, 1850-1873, (Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge)


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Ark ID:


  • Scientific expeditions--Maps


  • Businessmen
  • Philanthropists


  • Arctic regions (as recorded)
  • Arctic regions (as recorded)