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Borup, George, 1885-1912



  • Existence: 1885 - 1912



George Borup (born September 2, 1885, Ossining, NY—died April 28, 1912, Crescent Beach, Connecticut), AMNH assistant researcher and curator, was an explorer, geologist, and invertebrate paleontologist. The son of Lt. Col. Henry Dana and Mary Watson Borup, he was also the brother to Yvette Borup Andrews, a field photographer on AMNH sponsored expeditions and the first wife of explorer and AMNH president, Roy Chapman Andrews (2). Borup served as one of Commander Robert E. Peary’s assistants during his trip to the Arctic from 1908-1909 and was named one of two leaders for the Crocker Land Expedition but died two months before the scheduled departure (2, p. 429-430).

Borup is born
Graduates from Yale University with a degree in geology.
Works in the mechanical department for the Pennsylvania Railroad.
With help from his father, Borup convinces Commander Robert Peary to let him join his next expedition to the Pole.
Leaves for the North Pole with Peary, Donald MacMillan and team, setting sale on The S.S. Roosevelt. The ship was named for Theodore Roosevelt, who was president at the time.
The rush for the North Pole begins, and the expedition splits into three groups, with Borup's group in charge of setting supply caches along Peary's route north.
Peary and team supposedly reach the North Pole.
The expedition team returns to New York and Borup immediately contacts AMNH for a permanent position.
Joins the Explorer's Club.
Spends a year working for the US Geological Survey, representing AMNH.
Continues his geological studies at Yale.
1911, Summer
Works at a geological camp in Virginia.
Borup works as a research assistant for the geology department at AMNH.
His book, A Tenderfoot with Peary, is published, documenting his travels through the Arctic.
Along with Donald MacMillan, Borup proposes trip to the Arctic to find and explore Crocker Land, the island that Peary saw off the Coast of the Arctic Ocean during his 1905 expedition. His idea is immediately endorsed by his professors at Yale, as well as leadership at AMNH.
1911 December
Borup is given the title of Assistant Curator for the geology and invertebrate paleontology departments.
The Royal Geographical Society also agrees to sponsor the Crocker Land expedition, as well as Borup's role as expedition leader.
Borup's canoe capsizes in Long Island Sound near Crescent Beach, Connecticut. Borup attempts to save his friend, Samuel W. Case, but both die in the accident.
Borup's father argues that the Crocker Land trip should not be canceled, but delayed, and offers to join the Crocker Land Expedition as a replacement for his son.
AMNH's president, Henry Fairfield Osborn, supports the continuation of the Arctic trip, and decides to dedicate the expedition to Borup.
1913 August
The Crocker Land Expedition reaches Etah, Greenland and builds Borup Lodge to serve as the main camp for the expedition.
Expedition team names a fjord on Ellesmere Island after Borup.

Biographical Note

Borup attended Yale University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in geology in 1907. After graduation Borup worked in the mechanical shops of the Pennsylvania Railroad in Altoona, PA. Soon after, Robert Peary hired Borup as an expedition assistant on the proposed 1908-1909 expedition to find the North Pole, and in 1908 the crew set sail on the S.S. Roosevelt. Borup’s experience on this expedition is chronicled in his book, A Tenderfoot with Peary, based on the diaries he kept during the expedition (Tenderfoot being his nickname throughout the journey north). In 1909, Borup and the expedition team returned to New York. He spent 1910 continuing to study at Yale, planning to secure a permanent position at the AMNH. In 1911, he was sent to work on the US Geological Survey, assisted on a geological camp in Virginia, and is named a research assistant by AMNH. In December 1911, Borup was officially named assistant curator in the geology and invertebrate paleontology departments (3, p. 157-158). After their return from the North Pole in 1909, Borup and fellow expedition member, Donald B. MacMillan began planning a new trip to the Arctic. In one of Peary’s earlier journeys north he supposedly saw a large island off the northwest coast of Cape Thomas Hubbard and named it Crocker Land. No other expedition had seen or reached the island, so Borup and MacMillan proposed a new expedition to AMNH leadership in 1911 (3, p. 157). Borup and MacMillan were named leaders of the Crocker Land Expedition, and secured additional sponsorship from the Royal Geographical Society (4, p. 64).The expedition was scheduled to sail from Nova Scotia on July 20, 1912. However, Borup died on April 28, 1912, in a boating accident in Long Island Sound. The Crocker Land Expedition, now missing one of its leaders, was postponed until 1913 (4, p. 37, 86-87). In honor of his service to the Crocker Land Expedition, the rescheduled trip was dedicated to Borup. The lodge that the expedition team stayed in from 1913-1917 was named Borup Lodge, and a fjord the team mapped on Ellesmere Island was also named after the young explorer (6, p. 379-435). Borup is buried in Ossining, NY (7).


(1) "Guide to the George Borup North Polar Expedition Photographic Album, 1908 - 1909, " retrieved from

(2)"Death of George Borup, Revised Plans of the Crocker Land Expedition," (1912). Bulletin of the American Geographical Society, 44(6), 429-431. Retrieved from

(3) "The memory of George Borup," (1912). The American Museum Journal. Vol. 12, AMNH.

(4) "The North Pole--Sending Borup Home". Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum, Bowdoin College. Retrieved from

(5) "Annual Report, 1912" American Museum of Natural History.

(6) MacMillan, Donald B. "Geographical Report of the Crocker Land Expedition, 1913-1917", American Museum of Natural History Bulletin 56 (1928): 379-435.

(7) "Borup, George, 1885-1912" Library of Congress Authorities. Retrieved from



Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

Crocker Land Expedition papers, 1907-1922.

Identifier: Mss .C76
Dates: Majority of material found within 1907 - 1922