Peary, Robert Edwin, 1856-1920

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Robert Edwin Peary Sr. (born May 6, 1856, Cresson, Pennsylvania – died February 20, 1920, Washington, D.C.) was an American explorer and United States Navy officer who made several expeditions to the Arctic in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He is best known for claiming to have reached the geographic North Pole with his expedition on April 6, 1909.

Though born in Pennsylvania, Peary grew up in in Portland, Maine. He went to a prominent boarding school called Loomis Chaffe. He attended Bowdoin College, then joined the National Geodetic Survey as a draftsman. Peary enlisted in the navy in 1881, as a civil engineer. In 1885, he was made chief of surveying for the Nicaragua Canal (which was never built). Peary visited the Arctic for the first time in 1886, making an unsuccessful attempt to cross Greenland by dogsled. He returned in 1891 much better prepared, and by reaching Independence Fjord (in what is now known as Peary Land) proved conclusively that Greenland was an island. He was one of the first Arctic explorers to study Inuit survival techniques. During an expedition in 1894 he was the first Western explorer to reach the Cape York meteorite and its fragments, which were subsequently taken from the native Inuit population who had relied on it for creating tools. During that same expedition, Peary deceived six indigenous individuals, one of them Minik Wallace, to travel to America with him by promising they would be able to return with tools, weapons and gifts within the year. This promise would be unfulfilled, with four of the six dying of illnesses within a few months.

On his 1898–1902 expedition, Peary set a new "Farthest North" record by reaching Greenland's northernmost point, Cape Morris Jesup. Peary made two further expeditions to the Arctic, in 1905–1906 and in 1908–1909. During the latter, he claimed to have reached the North Pole. Peary received a number of awards from geographical societies during his lifetime, and in 1911 received the Thanks of Congress and was promoted to rear admiral. He served two terms as president of The Explorers Club and retired to Eagle Island.

Peary's claim to have reached the North Pole was widely debated in contemporary newspapers (along with a competing claim made by Frederick Cook), but eventually won widespread acceptance. In 1989, British explorer Wally Herbert concluded Peary did not reach the pole, although he may have been as close as 60 miles (97 km). His conclusions have been widely accepted, although disputed by some authorities.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Rear Adm. Robert E. Peary Papers. 1798 - 1976. Papers Relating to Social and Professional Organizations, 1874 - 1920 National Archives at College Park
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creatorOf Rear Adm. Robert E. Peary Papers. 1798 - 1976. The Robert E. Peary Family Collection: Photographic Records and Printed Materials Relating to the S.S. Roosevelt. National Archives at College Park
creatorOf Peary, Robert E. (Robert Edwin), 1856-1920. Robert E. Peary t.l.s. to Frederick Partington, 1905. Maine Historical Society Library
referencedIn Kenney, Arthur H. (Arthur Hail), 1920-. Arthur H. Keeney papers, 1891-1996. The Filson Historical Society
referencedIn Macy, Mary P. Scrapbook, 1862-1912. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
creatorOf Rear Adm. Robert E. Peary Papers. 1798 - 1976. Biographical Materials, ca. 1876 - 1920 National Archives at College Park
creatorOf Rear Adm. Robert E. Peary Papers. 1798 - 1976. Robert E. Peary Family Collection: Photographs Relating to an 1886 Arctic Expedition, 1886 - 1886 National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Grenfell, Wilfred Thomason, Sir, 1865-1940. Wilfred Thomason Grenfell papers, 1855-1986 (inclusive), 1892-1940 (bulk). Yale University Library
referencedIn Wells, Carlton F. (Carlton Frank), 1898-. Carlton F. Wells papers, 1910-1993. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
creatorOf Rear Adm. Robert E. Peary Papers. 1798 - 1976. North Pole Diaries National Archives at College Park
creatorOf Henry G. Bryant. Correspondence books, 1897-1913. Dartmouth College Library
referencedIn Rear Adm. Robert E. Peary Papers. 1798 - 1976. Robert E. Peary Family Collection: Glass Negatives of Robert E. Peary, the Roosevelt and A Sledging Party, ca. 1960 - ca. 1960 National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Rear Adm. Robert E. Peary Papers, 1798 - 1976. Cartographic Reference Materials, ca. 1878 - 1919. National Archives at College Park
creatorOf Hobbs, William Herbert, 1864-1952. William Herbert Hobbs papers, 1884-1950 (bulk 1919-1941) University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
creatorOf Rear Adm. Robert E. Peary Papers. 1798 - 1976. Medical and Legal Papers, 1879 - 1920 National Archives at College Park
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creatorOf Rear Adm. Robert E. Peary Papers. 1798 - 1976. Survey, Engineering and Architectural Drawings, and Ship Plans National Archives at College Park
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creatorOf Remarks to the Peary Arctic Club on Discovery of the North Pole National Archives at College Park
creatorOf Rear Admiral Robert E. Peary Family Collection. 1798 - 1976. Papers Relating to U.S. Navy Service, 1869 - 1917 National Archives at College Park
creatorOf Rear Adm. Robert E. Peary Papers. 1798 - 1976. Papers Relating to Aeronautics and Preparedness, 1910 - 1920 National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Rear Adm. Robert E. Peary Papers. 1798 - 1976. The Robert E. Peary Family Collection: Photographic Prints of Memorials and Ceremonies for Adm. Robert E. Peary, 1911 - 1965 National Archives at College Park
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creatorOf Rear Adm. Robert E. Peary Papers. 1798 - 1976. Robert E. Peary Family Collection: Lantern Slides Relating to the Arctic Expeditions of Robert E. Peary, ca. 1895 - ca. 1916 National Archives at College Park
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referencedIn American Philosophical Society Archives. Record Group IIf, 1866-1886 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Peary, Robert E. (Robert Edwin), 1856-1920. Robert E. Peary acceptance speech, 1879 June 23. Pennsylvania State University Libraries
creatorOf Peary, Robert E. (Robert Edwin), 1856-1920. Papers, 1889-1970. Rauner Special Collections Library
creatorOf Rear Adm. Robert E. Peary Papers. 1798 - 1976. Academic Papers National Archives at College Park
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referencedIn Carlton F. Wells papers, 1910-1994 Bentley Historica Library University of Michigan
creatorOf National Archives Gift Collection of Materials Relating to Polar Regions. 1949 - 1978. Robert E. Peary Family Collection: Photographs Relating to the Nicaragua Canal Surveys National Archives at College Park
creatorOf Rear Adm. Robert E. Peary Papers. 1798 - 1976. Cartographic Material Relating to Polar Exploration, ca. 1886 - 1916 National Archives at College Park
creatorOf Rear Adm. Robert E. Peary Papers. 1798 - 1976. Letters and Telegrams Sent, 1872 - 1919 National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Robert Bartlett collection, 1930-1937 Scott Polar Research Institute
creatorOf Greely, A. W. (Adolphus Washington), 1844-1935. Papers, 1876-1973. Dartmouth College Library
creatorOf Rear Adm. Robert E. Peary Papers. 1798 - 1976. Papers Relating to Arctic Expeditions. 1886 - 1909. Age, Weight, and Measurements of the Northern Sledge Party National Archives at College Park
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creatorOf Rear Adm. Robert E. Peary Papers. 1798 - 1976. Robert E. Peary Family Collection: Photographs Taken During Robert E. Peary's Arctic Expedition Of 1905-1906, 1905 - 1906 National Archives at College Park
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contributorOf Thomas H. Hubbard Papers. 1908 - 1915. Correspondence National Archives at College Park
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creatorOf Borup, George, 1885-1912. Correspondence, 1908-1912. American Museum of Natural History
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referencedIn Sharp, Benjamin, 1858-1915. Peary's North Greenland expedition and the relief : typescript, [ca. 1892]. Texas Christian University
referencedIn William Herbert Hobbs Papers, 1905-1950, 1919-1941 Bentley Historica Library University of Michigan
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creatorOf Letters Sent to Vilhjalmur Stefansson National Archives at College Park
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creatorOf Ship Plans: S.S. Roosevelt, Rudder-Slide, n.d. National Archives at College Park
creatorOf Cram, Ralph W., 1869-1952. Ralph W. Cram papers, 1906-1952. Newberry Library
creatorOf Rear Adm. Robert E. Peary Papers. 1798 - 1976. Robert E. Peary Family Collection: Photographs Relating to the Arctic Expeditions of Robert E. Peary, 1/1/1891 - 10/30/1897 National Archives at College Park
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creatorOf Robert Peary collection, 1897-1909 Scott Polar Research Institute
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referencedIn American Museum of Natural History. Miscellaneous correspondence collection, 1796-1926, 1871-1926 (bulk) Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
creatorOf Rear Admiral Robert E. Peary Family Collection. 1798 - 1976. Photographs Relating to Robert Peary's Efforts to Secure the Cape York Meteorite
creatorOf Zug, Robert M., 1852-1914. Robert M. Zug papers, 1737-1898. Detroit Public Library, Detroit Main Library
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creatorOf Rear Adm. Robert E. Peary Papers. 1798 - 1976. Robert E. Peary Family Collection: Photographs Relating to Admiral Peary's 1898-1902 Expeditions to Greenland and Ellesmere Island, Canada, 1898 - 1902 National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Charles Wellington Furlong papers, 1874-1967 Dartmouth College Library
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referencedIn Wyckoff, Edward Guild, 1867-1924. Edward Guild Wyckoff papers, 1899-1910. Cornell University Library
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referencedIn James W. Davidson Papers, 1892 - 1972. Papers of James Wheeler Davidson, 1892 - 1972. National Archives at College Park
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contributorOf Rear Admiral Robert E. Peary Family Collection, 1798 - 1976. Photographs Relating to Robert Peary's Efforts to Secure the Cape York Meteorites, 1896 - 1897 National Archives at College Park
creatorOf Rear Adm. Robert E. Peary Papers. 1798 - 1976. The Robert E. Peary Family Collection: Drawings and Sketches by Robert E. Peary and Albert Operti Relating to Polar Explorations National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Albert Stephens Borgman autograph collection, 1600-1950. Houghton Library
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referencedIn Letters Relating to the Hink-Hobbs Dispute, 1944 - 1970 National Archives at College Park
creatorOf Rear Adm. Robert E. Peary Papers. 1798 - 1976. Published Materials Relating to Polar Explorations, 1888 - 1940 National Archives at College Park
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referencedIn National Archives Gift Collection of Materials Relating to Polar Regions. 1949 - 1978. Robert E. Peary Family Collection: Photographs and Textual Materials Relating to Peary's Education, Career and Commendations National Archives at College Park
creatorOf St. Nicholas Magazine. Papers, 1870-1925. University of Southern Mississippi, Regional Campus, Joseph Anderson Cook Library
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creatorOf Rear Adm. Robert E. Peary Papers. 1798 - 1976. Published Materials Relating to Science and Engineering National Archives at College Park
creatorOf Rear Adm. Robert E. Peary Papers, 1798 - 1976. Papers Relating to the U.S. Antarctic Expedition, 1907 - 1914 National Archives at College Park
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creatorOf Papers Relating to Arctic Expeditions, 1886-1909 National Archives at College Park
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creatorOf Rear Admiral Robert E. Peary Family Collection. 1798 - 1976. Photographs Relating to Robert E. Peary's 1908 to 1909 Arctic Expedition, 1908 - 1964 National Archives at College Park
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referencedIn Rear Adm. Robert E. Peary Papers. 1798 - 1976. The Robert E. Peary Family Collection: Photographic Portraits of Marie Peary Kuhne, 1893 - 1956 National Archives at College Park
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referencedIn Frederick Albert Cook Papers, 1881-1977, (bulk 1891-1940) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
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Relation Name
associatedWith American Geographical Society of New York. corporateBody
associatedWith American Museum of Natural History. corporateBody
associatedWith American Philosophical Society. corporateBody
associatedWith Barstow, Charles Lester, 1867- person
correspondedWith Bartlett, Bob, 1875-1946. person
associatedWith Bates, Katharine Lee, 1859-1929. person
associatedWith Belknap, Ralph Leroy, 1899- person
associatedWith Bender, Albert M. (Albert Maurice), 1866-1941. person
associatedWith Benedict, Elizabeth. person
associatedWith Bensall, Amos. person
associatedWith Bingham family. family
associatedWith Bingham family. family
associatedWith Bingham family. family
associatedWith Boggs family. family
associatedWith Boggs family. family
associatedWith Borgman, Albert Stephens, 1890-1954 person
associatedWith Borup, George, 1885-1912. person
alumnusOrAlumnaOf Bowdoin College corporateBody
associatedWith Bradford, William, 1823-1892. person
associatedWith Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences corporateBody
associatedWith Bryant, Henry G. (Henry Grier), 1859-1932. person
correspondedWith Century Company corporateBody
associatedWith Church, Alfred Whiting, 1877-1953. person
associatedWith Communist Party of the United States of America. corporateBody
associatedWith Cook, Frederick Albert, 1865-1940. person
associatedWith Cope, E. D. (Edward Drinker), 1840-1897. person
associatedWith Counter, S. Allen. person
associatedWith Cram, Ralph W., 1869-1952. person
associatedWith Crocker, Charles, 1822-1888 person
associatedWith Crocker Land Expedition (1913-1917). corporateBody
correspondedWith D. Appleton-Century Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Davidson, James Wheeler, 1872-1933 person
correspondedWith Dellenbaugh, Frederick Samuel, 1853-1935 person
associatedWith Dibner, Bern, person
associatedWith Dingley, E. H. person
associatedWith Dodge, Arthur Malcolm. person
associatedWith Doubleday, Frank Nelson, 1862-1934 person
associatedWith Dunn, J. Allan (Joseph Allan), 1872-1941. person
associatedWith Effie M. Morrissey (Schooner) corporateBody
associatedWith Erichsen, Hugo, 1860-1944. person
associatedWith Flaherty, Stephen. person
associatedWith Fortune, Mattie Verhoeff. person
associatedWith Frederick A. Cook Society corporateBody
associatedWith Furlong, Charles Wellington, 1874-1967. person
associatedWith Gibbons, Russell W. person
correspondedWith Greely, A. W. (Adolphus Washington), 1844-1935. person
associatedWith Grenfell, Wilfred Thomason, Sir, 1865-1940. person
associatedWith Grosvenor family family
associatedWith Hampton, Benjamin B., person
associatedWith Henry Francis Prevost Battersby person
associatedWith Henson, Matthew Alexander, 1866-1955. person
associatedWith Hitchcock, Charles H. (Charles Henry), 1836-1919. person
associatedWith Hobbs, William Herbert, 1864-1952. person
correspondedWith Hubbard, Thomas H. (Thomas Hamlin), 1838-1915 person
associatedWith Jones, Louise E. person
associatedWith Kelly, Fred C. (Fred Charters), 1882-1959 person
associatedWith Kenney, Arthur H. (Arthur Hail), 1920- person
associatedWith Loud family. family
correspondedWith Luce, Stephen Bleecker, 1827-1917 person
associatedWith MacMillan, Donald Baxter, 1874-1970. person
associatedWith Macy, Mary P. person
associatedWith Markham Clements Robert 1830-1916 person
associatedWith Marvin, Ross Gilmore, 1880-1909 person
associatedWith McClure, S. S. (Samuel Sidney), 1857-1949, person
associatedWith McCracken, Harold, 1894-1983. person
associatedWith Merrill, Fullerton, 1876-1960. person
associatedWith Merrill, George P. (George Perkins), 1854-1929. person
associatedWith Mill Hugh Robert 1861-1950 person
associatedWith Moore, J. Hampton (Joseph Hampton), 1864-1950. person
associatedWith Nansen Fridtjof 1861-1930 person
associatedWith New York Times Company corporateBody
associatedWith Nichols, Charles J. (Charles Joseph), 1869-1949. person
associatedWith Olson, Julius E. person
associatedWith Operti, Albert. person
associatedWith Operti, Albert, 1852-1927. person
associatedWith Osborne, Duffield, 1858-1917. person
associatedWith Page, Walter Hines, 1855-1918 person
correspondedWith Partington, Frederick E., d. 1924 person
associatedWith Peary Arctic Club. corporateBody
spouseOf Peary, Josephine Diebitsch, 1863-1955 person
parentOf Peary, Marie Ahnighito, 1893-1978. person
associatedWith Peary Robert Edwin 1856-1920 person
associatedWith Peary's Summer Voyage (Peary's 4th Trip to Greenland) - Northwest Greenland (1896) corporateBody
associatedWith Plaisted, Ralph. person
associatedWith Portland Company (Portland, Me.) corporateBody
associatedWith Rasmussen, Knud, 1879-1933. person
associatedWith Robert Bob Abram Bartlett person
associatedWith Robert Edwin Peary person
associatedWith Rood, Henry Edward, 1867-1954. person
associatedWith Roosevelt (Ship : 1904-1937) corporateBody
associatedWith Sharp, Benjamin, 1858-1915. person
associatedWith Skinner, Charles M. (Charles Montgomery), 1852-1907. person
associatedWith Smith, William Alden, 1859-1932. person
associatedWith Smith, William, sailor. person
correspondedWith Stefansson, Vilhjalmur, 1879-1962 person
associatedWith Stickney, William, 1878-1924. person
associatedWith St. Nicholas Magazine. corporateBody
associatedWith Stone, Melville Elijah, 1848-1929. person
associatedWith Symmes, Americus. person
associatedWith Terry family family
memberOf The Explorer's Club corporateBody
associatedWith Theodore Roosevelt (Ship) corporateBody
associatedWith United States Exploring Expedition Canada Ellesmere Island Arctic ocean 1905-1906 corporateBody
memberOf United States. Navy corporateBody
correspondedWith Villard, Oswald Garrison, 1872-1949 person
associatedWith Ward, Lester Frank, 1841-1913. person
associatedWith Warmbath, Julian S. 1867- person
associatedWith Weems, John Edward. person
associatedWith Wells, Carlton F. (Carlton Frank), 1898- person
associatedWith Welsh, Charles, 1850-1914. person
associatedWith Wingate, Charles E. L. (Charles Edgar Lewis), b. 1861 person
associatedWith Winward (Ship) corporateBody
associatedWith Wolf, Louis, fl. 1905-1906. person
associatedWith Woods, Lawrence C., Jr., 1900-1990. person
associatedWith Wyckoff, Edward Guild, 1867-1924. person
associatedWith Wyckoff, Walter A. (Walter Augustus), 1865-1908. person
associatedWith Zug, Robert M., 1852-1914 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Pennsylvania PA US
Washington, D. C. DC US
North Pole
Subject
Civil service reform
Explorers
Explorers
Lectures and lecturing
Military officers
Occupation
Explorers
Explorers
Narrators
Naval officers
Activity

Person

Birth 1856-05-06

Death 1920-02-20

Male

Americans

English

Information

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Ark ID: w66z00zw

SNAC ID: 83207878