Peary MacMillan Arctic Museum
Exhibits     Collections     Information     Tours & Education     Research     Arctic Studies      Store 
Exhibits
Northern Connections: Postcards from The Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum Collection
February 1, 2004 - June 1, 2004
Arctic Museum main galleries

Postcards have been popular with travelers and collectors since the late nineteenth century. This popularity made postcards an ideal medium for promotion, whether it be a town selling itself as a destination for tourists, or a manufacturer advertising new products. Among the postcards in The Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum collection are many that drew on the allure of the Arctic and northern exploration to appeal to consumers. 

The generosity of the Friends of Bowdoin College has made this exhibition possible.



Pictured above: Cook Publishing Company, New York, circa 1909. Stars and Stripes Nailed to the North Pole. Facsimile. Gift In memory of Dr. H. Franklin Williams.
<p><b>Reflected Glory</b> </p>   At the beginning of the twentieth century Arctic exploration was as thrilling to the general public as space exploration is today. The town of Verona, Maine, was proud that Robert E. Peary selected a shipyard there to build the SS <em>Roosevelt</em> in 1904-05. Both Verona and the nearby town of Bucksport issued postcards commemorating the building and launching of this vessel. <br> <br>  Unknown printer, 1905. <em>Roosevelt</em>, Peary's Arctic Ship. Facsimile. Gift In memory of Dr. H. Franklin Williams.
<p><b>Reflected Glory</b> </p>   At the beginning of the twentieth century Arctic exploration was as thrilling to the general public as space exploration is today. The town of Verona, Maine, was proud that Robert E. Peary selected a shipyard there to build the SS <em>Roosevelt</em> in 1904-05. Both Verona and the nearby town of Bucksport issued postcards commemorating the building and launching of this vessel. <br> <br>  Unknown printer, circa 1905, Where the <em>Roosevelt</em> was built, Verona, Maine. Facsimile. Museum purchase.

<p><b>Home Sweet Home</b> </p>   Explorers are known for traveling the world, but their homes attract attention too. Robert E. Peary’s scenic summer home on Eagle Island was a popular subject for postcards long before the family turned it over to the State of Maine. Both Freeport, Maine, and Provincetown, Massachusetts, were similarly proud of their association with explorer Donald B. MacMillan. His homes, although less photogenic than Eagle Island, also graced postcards.  <br> <br>  Tichner Bros., Boston, circa 1920. Eagle Island Near Portland ME. Summer Home of Commodore Peary, Discoverer of the North Pole. Facsimile. Gift In memory of Dr. H. Franklin Williams.
<p><b>Home Sweet Home</b> </p>   Explorers are known for traveling the world, but their homes attract attention too. Robert E. Peary’s scenic summer home on Eagle Island was a popular subject for postcards long before the family turned it over to the State of Maine. Both Freeport, Maine, and Provincetown, Massachusetts, were similarly proud of their association with explorer Donald B. MacMillan. His homes, although less photogenic than Eagle Island, also graced postcards.  <br> <br>  H.J. Burrowes Co., Portland, after 1930. Donald MacMillan House, Freeport, Maine. Facsimile. Gift In memory of Dr. H. Franklin Williams.

<p><b>Home Sweet Home</b> </p>   Explorers are known for traveling the world, but their homes attract attention too. Robert E. Peary’s scenic summer home on Eagle Island was a popular subject for postcards long before the family turned it over to the State of Maine. Both Freeport, Maine, and Provincetown, Massachusetts, were similarly proud of their association with explorer Donald B. MacMillan. His homes, although less photogenic than Eagle Island, also graced postcards.  <br> <br>  E.D. West Co., South Yarmouth, Cape Cod, after 1945. Residence of Admiral Donald B. MacMillan, Famous Arctic Explorer, Provincetown, Cape Cod, Mass. Facsimile. Gift of Miriam Look MacMillan.
<p><b>Fundraising</b> </p>   In the 1930s, the Grenfell Mission, a medical mission serving remote communities in Newfoundland and Labrador, issued a series of postcards in England to raise money for its charitable work. The cards included views of mission activities and facilities, such as the hospital ship <em>Strathcona</em>, as well as general scenery. The series was sold as a set in an envelope describing the goals of the Mission.  <br> <br>  Raphael Tuck and Sons, Ltd., London, circa 1930. Hospital Steamer <em>Strathcona</em>. Facsimile. Museum purchase.

<p><b>Fundraising</b> </p>   In the 1930s, the Grenfell Mission, a medical mission serving remote communities in Newfoundland and Labrador, issued a series of postcards in England to raise money for its charitable work. The cards included views of mission activities and facilities, such as the hospital ship <em>Strathcona</em>, as well as general scenery. The series was sold as a set in an envelope describing the goals of the Mission.   <br> <br>  Raphael Tuck and Sons, Ltd., London, circa 1930. Labrador Oilfacsim Postcards envelope. Facsimile. Museum purchase.
<p><b>Overseas Missions</b> </p>   Missionaries began using postcards to promote their work in far-flung communities in the nineteenth century. Mission societies selected images that highlighted the ‘exotic’ nature of the people they worked with, but also tried to make them seem familiar. An image of a smiling Inuit mother and children reminded supporters of the universal bond all cultures share, while an image of a family around their house emphasized the differences among cultures.  <br> <br>  Moravian Missions, after 1930. Eskimo Mother with Children. Facsimile. Gift of Miriam Look MacMillan.

<p><b>Overseas Missions</b> </p>   Missionaries began using postcards to promote their work in far-flung communities in the nineteenth century. Mission societies selected images that highlighted the ‘exotic’ nature of the people they worked with, but also tried to make them seem familiar. An image of a smiling Inuit mother and children reminded supporters of the universal bond all cultures share, while an image of a family around their house emphasized the differences among cultures.  <br> <br>  Impr. Photogravure S.A, Geneva, circa 1920. Eskimo huts and framework of a 'kayak.' Facsimile. Gift of Miriam Look MacMillan.
<p><b>The Exotic North</b> </p>   In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries postcard printers produced thousands of images of indigenous people from around the world. Such images often featured beautiful young women posed in traditional costumes, while men were often depicted in more active roles as warriors or, as in this case, hunters. Such images contributed to damaging stereotypes of indigenous people as primitive, uncivilized, and unchanging.  <br> <br>  Raphael Tuck & Sons, London, circa 1910. Danish Eskimo Woman, Greenland. Facsimile. Museum purchase.

<p><b>The Exotic North</b> </p>   In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries postcard printers produced thousands of images of indigenous people from around the world. Such images often featured beautiful young women posed in traditional costumes, while men were often depicted in more active roles as warriors or, as in this case, hunters. Such images contributed to damaging stereotypes of indigenous people as primitive, uncivilized, and unchanging.  <br> <br>  Raphael Tuck & Sons, London, circa 1910. Cape York Native. Facsimile. Museum purchase.
<p><b>Current Events</b> </p>   During the height of the postcard craze, around the turn of the twentieth century, postcards of newsworthy events sold in great numbers. Hampton’s Magazine, which published Peary’s first serialized account of the North Pole expedition, sold postcards to promote the series. Kawin & Co. also produced an extensive series of 50 cards featuring drawings of the expedition for avid collectors.  <br> <br>  Hampton’s Magazine, 1909, New York. Peary’s Ship the <em>Roosevelt</em> Taking Water alongside a Glacier Near Cape York, August, 1908. Facsimile. Gift In memory of Dr. H. Franklin Williams.

<p><b>Current Events</b> </p>   During the height of the postcard craze, around the turn of the twentieth century, postcards of newsworthy events sold in great numbers. Hampton’s Magazine, which published Peary’s first serialized account of the North Pole expedition, sold postcards to promote the series. Kawin & Co. also produced an extensive series of 50 cards featuring drawings of the expedition for avid collectors.  <br> <br>  Kawin & Co., Chicago, 1909. Peary’s Party in a Hard Climb. Facsimile. Gift In memory of Dr. H. Franklin Williams.
<p><b>Profiting from Controversy</b> </p>   When controversy arose over whether Robert E. Peary or Frederick Cook had reached the North Pole first, postcard manufactures took advantage of the situation and produced cards supporting all positions. Some gave equal time to each explorer, while others focused on the dispute itself.  <br> <br>  Cook Publishing Company, New York, circa 1909. Stars and Stripes Nailed to the North Pole. Facsimile. Gift In memory of Dr. H. Franklin Williams.s.

<p><b>Profiting from Controversy</b> </p>   When controversy arose over whether Robert E. Peary or Frederick Cook had reached the North Pole first, postcard manufactures took advantage of the situation and produced cards supporting all positions. Some gave equal time to each explorer, while others focused on the dispute itself.  <br> <br>  Kawin & Co., Chicago, circa 1909. “Whose Little Girlie Are You?” Facsimile. Gift In memory of Dr. H. Franklin Williams.
<p><b>Local Interest</b> </p>   Small communities in Maine continued to promote their Arctic connections through the middle of the twentieth century. Brunswick Craft Shop produced a postcard of the Schooner <em>Bowdoin</em> although the ship rarely visited Brunswick. Individuals could also produce postcards by having photographs printed onto special paper. Donald B. MacMillan may have used this 1921 photo postcard to help raise funds for his Arctic voyages.  <br> <br>  Brunswick Craft Shop, Brunswick, circa 1925. Donald B. MacMillan’s Polar Craft <em>Bowdoin</em>, Brunswick, ME. Facsimile. Gift of Miriam Look MacMillan.

<p><b>Local Interest</b> </p>   Small communities in Maine continued to promote their Arctic connections through the middle of the twentieth century. Brunswick Craft Shop produced a postcard of the Schooner <em>Bowdoin</em> although the ship rarely visited Brunswick. Individuals could also produce postcards by having photographs printed onto special paper. Donald B. MacMillan may have used this 1921 photo postcard to help raise funds for his Arctic voyages.  <br> <br>  Ralph Robinson, Portland, 1921. Donald B. MacMillan on pier with dolls for gifts. Facsimile. Arctic Museum Collection.
<p><b>Postcards that Sell</b> </p>   Postcards have been used to advertise a variety of products since the nineteenth century. To coincide with the publication of her book Green Seas and White Ice in 1948, Miriam MacMillan sent postcards with pre-printed messages to book buyers across the country. There is no record of whether this was a successful promotion.  <br> <br>  Dodd, Mead, New York, 1948. Shooegingwah. Facsimile. Gift of Miriam Look MacMillan.

<p><b>Postcards that Sell</b> </p>   Postcards have been used to advertise a variety of products since the nineteenth century. To coincide with the publication of her book Green Seas and White Ice in 1948, Miriam MacMillan sent postcards with pre-printed messages to book buyers across the country. There is no record of whether this was a successful promotion.  <br> <br>  Dodd, Mead, New York, 1948. Green Seas and White Ice postcard, reverse. Facsimile. Gift of Miriam Look MacMillan.
<p><b>Distant Contacts</b> </p>   Amateur radio operators exchange cards, known as QSL cards, to confirm contacts with operators in other parts of the world. Donald B. MacMillan pioneered the use of shortwave radio in the Arctic, and continued to contact amateur operators throughout his career in the North using the call sign W20XE. This card is unused, but the Greenlandic card, from 0X3HK, was sent to an operator in Washington State.     <br> <br>  Printed by C. Fritz, Joliet, for MacMillan Expedition, 1950. W20XE Maritime Mobile. Facsimile. Gift of Miriam Look MacMillan.

<p><b>Distant Contacts</b> </p>   Amateur radio operators exchange cards, known as QSL cards, to confirm contacts with operators in other parts of the world. Donald B. MacMillan pioneered the use of shortwave radio in the Arctic, and continued to contact amateur operators throughout his career in the North using the call sign W20XE. This card is unused, but the Greenlandic card, from 0X3HK, was sent to an operator in Washington State.     <br> <br>  Unknown printer, Greenland, 1952. O3HK Radio Card. Facsimile. Museum purchase.