Polar Priorities and Membership News

.Articles from the latest journal.

Polar Priorities

The Annual Journal of the Frederick A. Cook Society

Averaging 60 pages, with photos, illustrations and maps

Diversified contributions on Polar geography and history, book reviews, reference citations and commentary.

Membership News

A semi-annual newsletter that provides up-to-date information and news on the work of the Society and the Polar community in general.  Included with membership.

Subscription $25 with Two newsletters in calendar year

Membership in Frederick A. Cook Society ($15) Includes the annual journal and newsletters.

ISSN 1086-4881

"One of the best resources for contemporary opinion and sound historical research in the Polar community"

- Dr. Raimund Goerler, Archivist, Byrd Polar Research Center

"I always look forward to seeing each issue.  A fine historical record."

- Capt. Brian Shoemaker, editor of the POLAR TIMES


.Articles from the Current Issue of Polar Priorities

Restoring history for Inuit explorers: 
Ittukusuk and Aapilak Islands

By Kenn Harper

Taken by Ted Heckathorn in 1998.

These two small islands off the east coast of Ellsemere Island were discovered by Dr. Cook in 1909 and named after his two fellow Inuit explorers. The name of a Canadian official replaced them in the early 1920s. The leading Inuit historian calls for their restoration. This aerial photograph shows the two small islands that Fredrick Cook named as the Ittukusuk and Aapilak Islands. 

In the spring of 1909 Frederick Cook and his two Inuit companions, Ittukusuk and Aapilak, struggled along the coast of Ellesmere Island, heading in a general north-easterly direction towards Greenland. They had spent the winter in a cave on northern Devon Island on their return from the North Pole the previous spring. 


‘Another Planet:’ Shparo’s address at Cook Centennial, citing Russian Recognition of the 1908 discovery

By Matvey Shparo


In April the Polar Commission of the Russian Geographical Society issued a full commemorative honoring Frederick A. Cook on the Centennial of the Discovery of the North Pole. This included Cook’s route to the North Pole, his image on a medallion in both Russian and English and reproductions of his sleds.


.Articles from the Current Issue of Membership News

Smithsonian, Canadians take a new look at Cook

How did Peary's claim trump that of Cook?

In the centennial year of the return of both Cook and Peary from their respective expeditions to the North Pole, and in the centennial month of Peary’s attainment, renewed views on both explorers have come from a leading periodical and a prominent Canadian Arctic historian.

In the April issue of The Smithsonian Magazine, published by America’s premiere institution of history and discovery, author Bruce Henderson takes the case for Cook to a new audience, asking “how did Peary’s claim trump Cook’s?” Henderson has authored a well-reviewed history of the Greeley expedition and an acclaimed, balanced volume on the controversy, True North: Cook, Peary and the Race to the Pole


Author Bruce Henderson (‘True North: Cook, Peary and the Race to the Pole’)
has a lead article in the April ‘Smithsonian Magazine’ which asks 
“How did Peary’s claim trump Cook’s?

And in Canada’s north country, the quarterly journal Up Here has a significant essay by the person considered by many as the country’s leading historian of the Arctic, Ken McGoogan, who has the Pierre Berton Award for History and the University of British Columbia Medal for Canadian Biography. McGoogan begins his account with the assertion that “one hundred years ago this month one of the worst injustices in Arctic exploration history began. 


Smithsonian, Canadians take a new look at Cook

How is it that Cook has been basically dropped out of our history books?


In the April issue of Smithsonian Magazine, editor, Carol Winfrey discusses the North Pole controversy under the heading “Poles Apart,” and quotes contributor Bruce Henderson: 

“History isn’t always portrayed accurately,” says Bruce Henderson, author of True North: Peary, Cook, and the Race to the Pole, from which he adapted “Cook vs. Peary”. “History books and encyclopedias have long said that Robert Peary discovered the North Pole, in 1909. Guess what? The claim of Frederick Cook to have gotten there a year before Peary is every bit as strong, and in some ways stronger, because Cook was the first to come out with original descriptions of the pole, before Peary would release his own descriptions. 

“And this was at a time when people didn’t know if there was land up there or even a lost civilization. Cook described the pole in a way that was verified by all the people who came after him. That’s an amazing thing. So just because it’s reported to be history doesn’t make it right.” For his book on the pair, Henderson spent nearly two years doing research at the National Archives, the Library of Congress and the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University, reading the explorers’ letters and journals as well as a host of related documents. 

“There’s going to be a lot of stories about the centennial of the discovery of the North Pole by Robert Peary. I’d love for readers to know, wait a minute, maybe another guy got there first. Maybe this is actually the 101st anniversary of the discovery. How is it that the forces around Peary completely overwhelmed Dr. Cook? How is it that Cook has basically dropped out of our history books?” 


Historian:‘One of the worst injustices in Arctic exploration’

Ken McGoogan, a leading Canadian Arctic historian, came in forcefully as an advocate of Frederick Cook in theApril number of UP HERE, a quarterly journal published in Yellowknife. McGoogan is the author of “The Arctic Discovery Quartet: Fatal Passage, Ancient Mariner, Lady Franklin’s Revenge, and Race to the Polar Sea.” 

A recipient of the Pierre Berton Award for History and the UBC Medal for Canadian biography, among other prizes, is a world traveler who sails in the Arctic as a resource historian with Adventure Canada. He is a fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and vice-chairman of the Public Lending Right Commission. His conclusion: 

“One hundred years ago this month one of the worst injustices in Arctic exploration history began unfolding on the northwest coast of Greenland. On April 18, 1909 an American doctor and two Inuit hunters struggled to the top of an icy ridge and looked out over a familiar scattering of igloos. Below, less than a mile away, lay the settlement of Anoatok, which they had left 14 months previously. Exhausted from an unprecedented ordeal, the three rose to their feet and waved, then huddled together and waited while old friends hitched up dog teams and drove out to collect them. 


Barbara Hillary lectures at museum

Barbara Hillary, 77, has several distinctions. She is one of the oldest people to reach the North Pole and is without a doubt the first black woman to stand at the geographical top of the earth. Barbara will deliver a lecture on April 25 at the Sullivan County Museum at a meeting sponsored by the Frederick A. Cook Society. 

When Barbara Hillary heard that there had never been a black woman at the North Pole, she took that as a challenge. So in April 2007, she set off on skis with two guides and became the first -despite the fact that she was a 75- year-old cancer survivor who had never learned to ski before, preparing for this trip. 

The bone- numbing trek to the North Pole is rife with perils that would make a seasoned explorer quake: frostbite threatens, polar bears loom, and the ice is constantly shifting beneath frozen feet. But Barbara Hillary took it all in stride, completing the trip at the age of 75. She is one of the oldest people to reach the North Pole, and is believed to be the first black woman on record to accomplish the feat. 

Hillary, of Averne, N.Y., grew up in Harlem and devoted herself to a nursing career and community activism. At 67 and during retirement, she battled lung cancer. Five years later, she went dog sledding in Quebec and photographed polar bears in Manitoba. “What’s wrong with this picture?” she said. “So I sort of rolled into this, shall we say.” Barbara was a guest at the Society’s Centennial Conference at the Yale Club in April 2008 and made remarks on that occasion. 

Window Murals highlight explorer

On April 25, two murals highlighting the career of Frederick A. Cook will be dedicated at the Sullivan County Historical Museum, created by local artists Laurie Kilgore and Tobi Magnetico. The mural project, occupying former window openings in a section of the Museum, is an interpretation of Sullivan County history. 

The Cook representation will include images of Cook as an explorer in the field, his arrival following the North Pole Discovery and his childhood making hickory sleds from which he designed sleds that were used in both Antarctica and the high Arctic to the Pole. 

Hurleyville First is sponsoring the murals, and the Society is a contributor to the Cook representations. The formal dedication will take place at the Bicentennial meeting co-sponsored by the Frederick A. Cook Society. 

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Copyright 2008 - The Frederick A. Cook Society