Arctic Club Medal found at Missouri Historical Society site 


On September 23,1909, Frederick A. Cook was presented a Gold Medal for the Discovery of the North Pole by the Arctic Club of America. The event was captured in a wide-angle photograph of 1,000 guests in the ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York, two days following Cook's triumphant return to the United States from Denmark and the Polar Regions.

Both events were represented in the 2005 number of Polar Priorities. The whereabouts of the Gold Medal has eluded interested writers and scholars, as well as the family for much of a century since. This month part of the mystery was resolved in a letter to the Society from Associate Curator Jeff Meyer of the Missouri Historical Society in St. Louis. Mr. Meyer wrote:

"I have discovered in our collection a gold metal medal, about 2-1/2 inches in diameter that is associated with Frederick A. Cook. On the obverse is an image of Cook in polar clothing holding a flag with "APRIL 21-1908 / F.A. COOK" in text above him; the reverse reads "APPROVED BY / THE / ARCTIC CLUB / OF / AMERICA / SEPT. 23 / 1909."

Click on either image to view an enlargement. 
Arctic Club of America Gold Medal
Presented to Dr. Cook on September 23, 1909.

How the medal came into the possession of the Missouri Historical Society remains somewhat of an enigma. Normally contributions or acquisitions are recorded as gifts or purchases, but the Society reports only that in 1914 a benefactor made a gift of the medal.

The Arctic Club medal was not with the awards and decorations given to Cook which resided with the family at his 1940 death, and which were subsequently catalogued and displayed in the family niche in the chapel at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, NY. These were detailed in an article in Polar Priorities vol. 18, 1999.

For more Polar Priorities and Membership News stories, check our online archive


Copyright 2005 - The Frederick A. Cook Society