Henson, Matthew Alexander, 1866-1955

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Matthew Alexander Henson (b. August 8, 1866, Nanjemoy, MD, – d. March 9, 1955, The Bronx, New York) was the first African-American Arctic explorer and an associate of Robert Peary on seven voyages over a period of nearly 23 years. Henson served as a navigator and craftsman, traded with Inuit and learned their language, and was known as Peary's "first man" for these arduous travels. During the 1909 expedition to Greenland, Henson accompanied Peary in the small party, including four Inuit men, that has been recognized as the first to reach the Geographic North Pole. 1937 Henson was invited as a member of The Explorers Club, the first African American to be accepted. Henson published his memoir, A Negro Explorer at the North Pole (1912), which included a foreword and praise by Peary. The remains of Henson and his wife were reinterred with a monument at Arlington National Cemetery, near that for Peary and his wife in 1988 by a presidential order. Henson has received numerous posthumous honors since then.
Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Counter, S. Allen. Polar justice : the Matthew Henson story : screenplay treatment / by S. Allen Counter. Texas State University-San Marcos, Albert B. Alkek Library
referencedIn Flaherty, Stephen. Ragtime : the musical / music by Stephen Flaherty ; lyrics by Lynn Ahrens ; book by Terrence McNally ; based on the novel Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow, 2009. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Robert N. Giaimo Papers., undated, 1956-1981. Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Center.
creatorOf Peary, Robert E. (Robert Edwin), 1856-1920. [Letter, 19] 15 Dec. 30, Washington [D.C.to] Matthew A. Henson / Peary. Texas Tech University Libraries, Academic Library
referencedIn Russell W. Porter Papers. 1889 - 1970. Arctic Fever Notes. 1903 - 1905. 80. Mat Henson
referencedIn Rear Adm. Robert E. Peary Papers. 1798 - 1976. Robert E. Peary Family Collection: Photographs of Peary's 1893-1895 Arctic Expeditions
creatorOf Stone, Julius F. (Julius Frederick), 1855-1947. Julius F. Stone papers, 1912-1947. Ohio State University Libraries
creatorOf Smith, William, sailor. Log book, containing the proceedings on board the S.S. Hope of Greenock, from St. Johns to Greenland : commanded by Capt. John Bartlett, commencing July 10th, 1896, ending [Oct. 7, 1896] / kept by Wm. Smith, mate. American Museum of Natural History
referencedIn General Records of the Department of the Treasury. 1775 - 2005. Personnel Files of Notable Treasury Employees
referencedIn Cook, Frederick Albert, 1865-1940. Papers of Frederick Albert Cook, 1881-1977 (bulk 1891-1940). Library of Congress
referencedIn Harris, M. A., 1908-. Middleton "Spike" Harris papers, 1929-1977. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Julius F. Stone Papers, 1845-1949 The Ohio State University Archives.
referencedIn Rear Adm. Robert E. Peary Papers. 1798 - 1976. The Robert E. Peary Family Collection: Photographic Prints of Subjects Relating to Polar Expeditions of Adm. Robert E. Peary
referencedIn Jones, Lois Mailou. Lois Mailou Jones papers, 1920-1998. Moorland-Spingarn Resource Center
referencedIn National Archives Gift Collection of Materials Relating to Polar Regions. 1949 - 1978. Robert E. Peary Family Collection: Photographs Relating to the Nicaragua Canal Surveys
referencedIn Records of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. 1921 - 2008. Audio Recordings. 1945 - 1965. INHERITANCE. No. 54, THE NORTH POLE ; INVITATION TO LEARNING. No. 155
referencedIn National Archives Gift Collection of Materials Relating to Polar Regions. 1949 - 1978. Photographs of Peary's 1891-1892 Greenland Expedition
referencedIn Rear Adm. Robert E. Peary Papers. 1798 - 1976. Photographs Showing Arctic People and Their Culture, Landscape, and Wildlife
referencedIn Rear Adm. Robert E. Peary Papers. 1798 - 1976. Photographs Relating to the Life and Career of Robert E. Peary
creatorOf Henson, Matthew Alexander, 1866-1955. Letters : New York City, to Clarence E. Bissell, 1926. Natural History Museum Los Angeles County Foundation, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
referencedIn Frederick Albert Cook Papers, 1881-1977, (bulk 1891-1940) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn 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
referencedIn Gibbons, Russell W. Papers of Russell W. Gibbons, [manuscript], 1967-1968. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn 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.
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith Cook, Frederick Albert, 1865-1940. person
associatedWith Counter, S. Allen. person
memberOf Explorers Club corporateBody
associatedWith Flaherty, Stephen. person
associatedWith Giaimo, Robert N. person
associatedWith Gibbons, Russell W. person
associatedWith Harris, M. A., 1908- person
associatedWith Jones, Lois Mailou. person
associatedWith Peary, Robert E. (Robert Edwin), 1856-1920. person
associatedWith Roosevelt (Ship : 1904-1937) corporateBody
associatedWith Smith, William, sailor. person
associatedWith Stone, Julius F. (Julius Frederick), 1855-1947. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Washington, D. C. DC US
Baltimore MD US
Bronx NY US
Greenland 00 GL
Maryland MD US
Republic of Nicaragua 00 NI
Subject
Polar regions--Discovery and exploration
Occupation
Polar explorer
Function

Person

Birth 1866-08-08

Death 1955-03-09

Americans

English

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SNAC ID: 35828553