In 1913, Donald B. MacMillan began an expedition looking for Crocker Land, first sighted by Robert Peary in 1906 in an unexplored Arctic region. Expedition members planned to spend two years studying this region, under the auspices of the American Museum of Natural History. Ice conditions prevented evacuation until the summer of 1917. By then MacMillan had shown that Crocker Land was nothing more than a mirage, and the expedition had collected many natural history specimens and scientific records. MacMillan himself took over 5000 photographs.
After his return, MacMillan frequently lectured about the Arctic. He illustrated the lectures with his hand-tinted glass lantern slides. These lectures were very popular and helped establish MacMillan's reputation as one of the foremost Arctic explorers of his day. Here we have combined excerpts from MacMillan's lecture with reproductions of the glass lantern slides.
"Tonight there remains one great white spot, one half million square miles in area, the largest unexplored region on the surface of the globe; and into that spot we are going. I cannot hope to take you to the end of the long trail for our sledges covered considerably more than ten thousand miles. I hope, however, during this short march to remove from your minds many popular misconceptions of the Arctic regions. Possibly after you have seen the pictures, you may be able to understand why it is that a man prefers the snow houses, the sleeping bag, the rough food, the hardships of the trail to the comforts of civilization."
This exhibit was made possible by a New Century Preservation Grant, Kane Lodge Foundation, and Friends of Bowdoin College.
Pictured above: The Erik at Provision Point, Etah, North Greenland. Donald B. MacMillan, Etah, North Greenland, 1913. Gift of Donald and Miriam MacMillan.