Arctic Museum Behind ‘North by Degree: New Perspectives on Arctic Exploration’

The Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center has announced the publication of North by Degree: New Perspectives on Arctic Exploration, a collection of papers on the history of late 19th-century and early 20th-century Arctic exploration. The volume, published by the American Philosophical Society, is edited by Museum Director Susan A. Kaplan and Robert M. Peck, Senior Fellow of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.

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North by Degree brings together a selection of works first presented in Philadelphia in 2008 at an international conference on Arctic exploration, co-sponsored by Bowdoin College, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, the American Philosophical Society, and the Philadelphia Area Center for History of Science. In organizing the conference Kaplan and Peck encouraged scholars to think beyond issues examined in most biographies of Arctic expedition leaders or overviews of the history of Arctic exploration.

Participants rose to the challenge and contributed papers that contextualized expeditions, examining the broader social, technological, and environmental settings in which these Arctic expeditions were conceived, carried out, described, and finally understood by the public. Among those contributions selected for inclusion in North by Degree readers will find papers that examine a broad array of topics ranging from nationalism, to issues of race and gender, to ways new technologies affected Arctic exploration.

Along with scholars from the U.S., Canada, and England, Arctic Museum staff members contributed a number of papers to the volume. Genevieve LeMoine, with coauthor Christyann Darwent, writes on the ways Inughuit women integrated into their lives materials brought to the north by exploration parties; Anne Witty examines the troubled maiden voyage of Robert E. Peary’s expedition vessel the SS Roosevelt; Susan A. Kaplan looks at how two-way radio communication was introduced to the Arctic; and former intern and Bowdoin alumna Emma Bonanomi explores audience reactions to Matthew Henson’s post-North Pole lecture tour. Photographs from the Arctic Museum’s historic photograph collections are featured throughout the well-illustrated volume.

North by Degree can be purchased through the online Bowdoin store.

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