The collections of the Polar Archives document journeys to remote places most of us will never get to see in person. Covered heavily by the news media, early explorers were larger than life and their journeys fascinated the public.  Our collections hold the physical manifestations of these adventures, and help to tell the various stories of exploration, ranging from travel to Antarctica to the North Pole, and from dog sleds to zeppelins.

Australian passport 1919–1921 of George Hubert Wilkins (1888-1957), Sir George Hubert Wilkins Papers

Explorer Sir George Hubert Wilkins achieved distinction for his work in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. This passport documents his travels starting in 1919 when he went to Gallipoli (Turkey). Over the next two years, he journeyed to France, the US, Antarctica, Australia, Argentina and Uruguay.

Card stock model of the airship Norge, by Richard C. Zoerb, 2017

This 1:150 scale model, created from plans downloaded from the internet, gives an amazing amount of detail. The actual ship measured 348 feet long. The Norge was a dirigible that successfully reached the North Pole on May 12, 1926.


Toby Jug depicting Frederick A. Cook in furs, ca. 1909, porcelain

Named for Toby Philpot, an infamous drinker mentioned in a British song written in 1761, the Toby Jug is a figural ceramic pitcher modeled in the form of a popular character. In 1909, Frederick A. Cook was embroiled in a controversy with explorer Robert E. Peary, with both claiming to have been first to the North Pole.


Dog whip, 1939, leather, Ernest Earl Lockhart Papers

Ernest Earl Lockhart served as the physiologist and dog driver on the US Antarctic Service Expedition, 1939–1941. Sled dogs have played an important role in polar expeditions and are still used in some rural and northern communities, though they were banned from Antarctica in 1992.


Miniature sledge, wood, leather and string, ca. 1933-1935, Edgar F. Cox Papers

This miniature sledge (or sled) is a replica of those used on polar expeditions to move supplies on the ice. This one was fashioned by Edgar Cox, the dairyman on Byrd’s second expedition to Antarctica, 1933–1935.


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