Materials related to the 1913 Canadian Arctic Expedition and the 1921 Wrangel Island Expedition

image of the ship Karluk, before she sank in the Arctic in November 1913

The Karluk, shortly before she sank, November 1913

About This Collection

Vilhjalmur Stefansson (1879-1962) was an Arctic explorer, promoter, and teacher who made expeditions above the Arctic Circle between 1906 and 1918. He joined the Anglo-American Polar Expedition in 1906, which was under the auspices of Harvard and the University of Toronto. In 1908, he participated in the Stefansson-Anderson Expedition, which was financed by the American Museum of Natural History and the Canadian government. In 1913, he set out again on the Canadian Arctic Expedition which explored the sea and islands north of Alaska and the Canadian mainland. Even though the expedition discovered Brock, Borden, Meighen and Lougheed Islands, it was overshadowed by the tragic sinking of one of the expedition's ships, the Karluk, in pack ice and the subsequent deaths of many of its crew. It was also the last expedition Stefansson physically participated in as he began to focus his energy on the lucrative lecture circle and the writing of books on arctic subjects. In 1921, he organized the ill-fated Wrangel Island Expedition, the failure of which caused the death of all but one of its participants.

Materials digitized as part of the collection Collating Wrangel Island constitute a small subset of Stefansson’s papers related to Wrangel Island from the 1913 Canadian Arctic Expedition and the 1921 Wrangel Island Expedition. The full collection is available at Rauner Special Collections Library by asking for MSS-98. For more details, please see the detailed finding aid to the Vilhjalmur Stefansson Papers.

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