Crocker Land Expedition field photographs
Scope and Content Note
This collection is a small subset of copies of prints from the larger Photographic Collection no. 14 – Crocker Land Expedition field photographs. The photographs in this collection are individually sleeved and arranged in four series.
Folder 1 consists of 4 photographs that were taken prior to departure for the Arctic and include images of the S.S. “Diana” in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and group portraits of the expedition team.
Folder 2 is divided into two sets. The first set, 2a, is comprised of 22 photographs of the landscape and topography. Locations within Greenland that are captured in these images include Etah, Saunders Island, Brother John’s Glacier, Humboldt Glacier, North Star Bay, Wolstenholme Sound, Lake Alida, and Foulke Fjord. The second set, 2b, contains 6 images of the team in the field and around the headquarters camp in Etah, Greenland. Other locations include Cape Alexander, Nerke, and Foulke Fjord.
Folder 3 consists of 26 photographs of the expedition team members and Eskimos in the field and around headquarters in Etah. Other locations include Foulke Fjord, Nerke, Cape Alexander, Brother John’s Glacier, Saunders Island, and an Eskimo summer camp at North Star Bay. This series also includes images of the team collecting specimens such as walrus heads and the hide of a caribou.
Folder 4 contains 15 photographs of ethnographic portraits (focusing primarily on women and children), an Eskimo summer camp and a Danish mission at North Star Bay.
- circa 1913-1917
- Crocker Land Expedition (1913-1917) (Organization)
Access Conditions and Restrictions
Requests to use the collection should be made in advance to the Senior Special Collections Librarian, who may be contacted at 212-769-5420 or at [email protected]
Donald Baxter MacMillan was born in Provincetown, Massachusetts in 1874 and moved to Freeport, Maine in 1889 where he earned a degree in geology at Bowdoin College. Having a life-long interest in science and seafaring, Mr. MacMillan worked as a teacher and founded a summer camp in Maine that aimed to teach boys seamanship and navigation. In the early 1900’s, he made the acquaintance of Rear Admiral Robert Peary, a fellow Bowdoin graduate, when he rescued nine shipwrecked people from Casco Bay.
In 1908, Mr. MacMillan joined the Peary North Pole Expedition as an assistant to Admiral Peary. Over the next 46 years, Mr. MacMillan made over 30 expeditions to the Arctic and chartered over 300,000 miles of new territory, performed scientific research and studied the native people of Greenland and Northern Canada. He was influential in introducing the use of radios, airplanes, and electricity to Arctic exploration. Mr. MacMillan’s contributions to the study of the Arctic also include films, thousands of photographs, and a dictionary of the Inuktikut language. In his later years, he served in the United States Navy during both World War I and World War II and continued to be influential in Arctic exploration until his death in 1970.
During a 1905-1906 Arctic expedition, Rear Admiral Robert Peary believed he discovered a previously unknown landmass off the western coast of Ellesmere Island in Northern Canada and named it after the expedition’s benefactor, George Crocker. In early 1912, Donald Baxter MacMillan and George Borup, who was assistant curator of geology at the American Museum of Natural History, began preparations to co-lead an expedition in search of Crocker Land; however Mr. Borup unexpectedly died in the spring of 1912. Plans for the expedition were postponed until the following year, while a new team was organized and additional financial support was raised from the University of Illinois and the American Geographical Society. The final team consisted of Donald B. MacMillan, leader and ethnologist; Fitzhugh Green, engineer and physicist; W. Elmer Ekblaw, geologist and botanist; Maurice C. Tanquary, Ph.D., zoologist; Harrison J. Hunt, M.D., surgeon; Jerome Lee Allen, wireless operator; and Jonathan C. Small, mechanic and general aid. The AMNH Curator, Edmund Otis Hovey, served as Chairman of the Committee in Charge.
When the expedition team departed from the Brooklyn Navy Yard aboard the SS “Diana” on July 2, 1913 their mission was to discover the location of Crocker Land, as well as, perform scientific research in geology, botany, ornithology, meteorology, and ethnology in the Arctic. In the spring of 1914, Mr. MacMillan and Mr. Green travelled over 400 miles across ice and land from their headquarters in Etah, Greenland to finally locate Crocker Land; however, they discovered that the purported landmass was only a mirage. The AMNH received letters from the expedition team requesting a relief ship be sent to retrieve them in the summer of 1915. The schooner “George B. Cluett” was sent with Dr. Hovey in charge of the mission in July 1915. However, extremely bad ice conditions made sea travel difficult and delayed the return of Dr. Hovey, Mr. MacMillan, Dr. Hunt, and Mr. Small with the expedition collections and equipment for two years. Dr. Tanquary, Mr. Allen, and Mr. Ekblaw were able to sledge to Southern Greenland in the winter of 1916 and return to New York, by way of Copenhagen.
0.25 Linear Feet (1 box)
Language of Materials
This collection was previously arranged through a USDE grant-funded project in the 1980s. At this time the photographs were grouped in sets titled “Series A”, “Series B”, etc. This arrangement has been kept, however the descriptive titles have been supplied to replace the previous “Series” designation.
Separated Material Note
Call number: Photographic Collection no. 14 Title: Crocker Land Expedition field photographs. This is a collection of photographs taken during the Crocker Land Expedition from 1913-1917. The collection includes images of Northern Greenland and Canada, as well as anthropological studies of the Inuit culture
Physical Description Note
73 individually-sleeved black and white photographic prints
- Crocker Land Expedition field photographs, circa 1913-1917
- Multilevel Complete
- Traci Faughnan
- November 2011
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note
- Finding aid created with support from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Hidden Collections grant, 2010.