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Black & White

Ninety Degrees North, Arctic Ocean, 1909

Robert E. Peary had made a number of attempts to reach the pole prior to his 1908-1909 expedition. On May 8, 1900, he passed the farthest point north ever reached by previous explorers.

A new record for farthest north was achieved in 1906, for which U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt awarded Peary the National Geographic Society’s Hubbard Medal. Then in August, 1908, on an expedition sponsored by the National Geographic Society, Peary boarded his three-masted steamship schooner, the Roosevelt, with 22 Inuit men, 17 Inuit women, 10 children, 246 dogs, 70 tons (64 metric tons) of whale meat from Labrador, the meat and blubber of 50 walruses, hunting equipment, and tons of coal.

In February 1909, the explorers left their ship anchored at Ellesmere Island’s Cape Sheridan, with the Inuit men and 130 dogs working to lay a trail and supplies along the route to the pole, National Geographic News reported in a 2003 story.

On April 6, 1909, after a month of trekking with the dogs, Peary wrote in his journal: “The Pole at last!!! The prize of 3 centuries, my dream and ambition for 23 years. Mine at last.”

Location: Arctic Ocean
Photograph Date: 1909
Medium: Pigment Print
Edition: 20

About the Photographer

Robert E. Peary

Robert Edwin Peary (1856-1920) was one of the most lionized—and controversial—figures in the history of polar exploration. Veteran of some eight expeditions to the Arctic, and the man who finally determined that Greenland was an island, Peary claimed to have reached the North Pole on April 6, 1909. That claim has been disputed but never disproven. His collection of historic photographs made during his expeditions are now in the Society’s archives.

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