Hunt, Harrison J., 1878-1967
- Existence: 1878 - 1967
Harrison Joseph Hunt (June 1, 1878 to July 17, 1967) was born in Brewer, part of Bangor, Maine and earned a medical degree from Bowdoin College. Early in his career he joined the Crocker Land Expedition (1913-1917) as surgeon for the venture. After the Crocker Land Expedition, Hunt returned to his family in Maine and practiced medicine until his death.
- Receives undergraduate degree from Bowdoin College.
- Receives medical degree from Bowdoin College.
- Works as doctor.
- Hunt participates in the Crocker Land Expedition.
- Returns to Bangor, Maine, where he spends years as a practicing doctor, partially at Eastern Maine General Hospital, specializing in the treatment of venereal diseases.
- Works in a Red Cross Blood mobile unit throughout Maine.
- Works on Swan's Island as a part-time general practitioner.
- Hunt retires and returns to Bangor, Maine.
Harrison (Hal) Hunt was born in Maine in 1878. His father, Dr. Walter Hunt was one of the founders of what would become Eastern Maine Medical Center (1). He followed his father into the medical profession, gaining both his undergraduate (1902) and medical (1905) degrees from Bowdoin College. Early in his career he practiced locally in Maine, until responding to an advertisement for the Crocker Land Expedition (2). . Hunt was hired as team surgeon (4); his training and skills proved extremely useful to treat such ailments as frostbite, twisted ankles and heart attacks. He also treated the indigenous population while he was there. According to expedition leader MacMillan, he was referred to as 'Angekok,' (5) Greenlandic for medicine man or shaman. In a letter, Hunt described the need for a clinic in the area: "This tribe needs a doctor to reside with them. A small lying-in hospital would increase the population at once as the death rate among infants and mothers is very high." (6) Hunt also contributed to the overall expedition collecting work. (7) His skills as a hunter proved valuable, as did his trading skills for the acquisition of food and supplies (8). He is credited with finding in Umanak the nest and eggs of the knot, ornithological specimens which scientist Elmer Ekblaw was searching for (9).
Crocker Land did not exist, and a host of issues occurred throughout the expedition, delaying the return of the participants. Hunt was particularly disillusioned, disappointed, and missed his family. In addition, he had become almost completely deaf from the conditions and climate (10). He was able to travel south through Greenland and then on to the United States, by way of Copenhagen. Hunt did not participate in any further scientific expeditions and continued to practice medicine in various locales in Maine, including time as a traveling doctor on remote Swan’s Island. He retired in 1960 and died of pneumonia in 1967. (11)
SOURCES (1) Emily Burnham, “Adventure is in the blood of polar explorer's family,” Bangor Daily News, January 29, 2018, accessed March 22, 2018, https://bangordailynews.com/2018/01/29/news/hancock/adventure-is-in-the-blood-of-polar-explorers-family/
(2) Emily Burnham, “Adventure is in the blood of polar explorer's family”
(3) American Museum of Natural History. Annual Reports. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1884/85-2010.
(4) American Museum of Natural History. Annual Reports.
(5) Donald Baxter MacMillan, Four Years in the White North (New York and London: Harper & Brothers, 1918), 33.
(6) American Museum of Natural History, "The Crocker Land Expedition," The American Museum Journal 14, no. 5 (1914): 211.
(7) MacMillan, Four Years in the White North, 167.
(8) MacMillan, 109, 117.
(9) Harrison J. Hunt, M.D. and Ruth Hunt Thompson, North to the Horizon: searching for Peary's Crocker Land. (Camden, ME: Down East Books, 1980), 77.
(10) Hunt and Thompson, North to the Horizon, 105-109.
(11) Hunt and Thompson, 113.
- Note: Expedition site; Harrison Hunt acted as surgeon for the Crocker Land Expedition in Greenland.
- Note: Harrison Hunt was born, educated and spent the majority of his working life in Maine.