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Exhibits
Building the Peary Monument
June 1, 2004 - December 1, 2004
Arctic Museum main galleries

Building the Peary Monument

…since the death of my father, mother and I have hoped to realize … one of his last wishes, the erection of a permanent memorial to him in Greenland.

Marie Peary Stafford

In 1932, Robert A. Bartlett and Marie Ahnighito Peary Stafford, Robert E. Peary’s daughter, joined forces to mount an expedition to Cape York, Greenland to construct a memorial to Peary. As always on Bartlett’s expeditions, photographers documented many aspects of this remarkable work. The following images trace the expedition from its June departure from New York, to the final dedication of the monument in August, 1932. The captions are extracts from accounts of the expedition left by Bartlett, captain of the expedition vessel Effie M. Morrissey and leader of the expedition, Marie Peary Stafford, who was returning to the place of her birth, and Jack Angel, assistant engineer and sometime photographer.

 

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

We also thank the George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections and Archives, Bowdoin College for use of the images and extracts from the writing of Robert A. Bartlett and Jack Angel, The Maine Women Writers Collection, University of New England Libraries for extracts from Marie Peary Stafford’s account of the expedition, and Mildred Jones, a museum volunteer, for her work with this photograph collection.



Pictured above: Unknown photographer, Campsite, Cape York, Greenland, 1932. Ink jet print from black and white photograph. Robert Abram Bartlett papers, George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library.
<p><b>Preparations on Shore and Aboard the <em>Effie M. Morrissey</em></b> </p>   What a job it was to stow all the supplies for our Commissariat and the monument…in the event of a delay and being caught up there for the winter I took enough for nine months at least. Robert A. Bartlett.
Marie’s sons, Edward (age 14) and Peary (age 12), were along on the expedition and had a visit from Neptune as they crossed the Arctic Circle. <br><br> The first thing we heard was his voice, bidding us stop, which we did, for he is the supreme one of the sea. He asked for the two Stafford Boys… He recommended that they be brought before him blindfolded...He said ‘About 50 years ago a young man came north…for the first time, and I administered to him the same ritual that I shall presently administer to you, his grandsons…’ Then he lathered the boys with some mixture he carried in a large pot, and shaved them with a great blunt razor… Robert A. Bartlett<br> <br>  Unknown photographer, A visit from Neptune, aboard the <em>Effie M. Morrissey</em> at the Arctic Circle, July 1932. Ink jet print from black and white photograph. Robert Abram Bartlett papers, George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library.

<p><b>The <em>Effie M. Morrissey</em> at Cape York</b> </p>   The monument was to be built atop a high cliff at Cape York. Bartlett moored the <em>Morrissey</em> alongside a nearby glacier where, despite the danger, access to the shore was possible.<br> <br>  We made fast to the glacier on the south side of the Cape, went ashore to… see what was what. I had never been up the glacier to the height ...proposed as the site. …We might have to leave at any minute when the glacier calve[d] or the wind change[d] and brought the ice in, which happened several times. Robert A. Bartlett<br> <br>  Unknown photographer, The <em>Effie M. Morrissey</em> in front of the glacier, Cape, York Greenland, 1932. Ink jet print from black and white photograph. Robert Abram Bartlett papers, George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library.
<p><b>Getting Ready</b> </p>   The two whale boats were lashed together and a platform made over them with lumber. In this way as many as eighty bags of cement could be taken in one load. The distance to the shore was about a quarter of a mile and the boats were run upon the beach, and the load piled on shore. It was then a matter of carrying the materials 75 yards to the sledges at the foot of the glacier. Jack Angel<br> <br>  All the materials necessary for the work: the lumber for scaffolding, fifteen tons of cement, tools, camp equipment, the marble letters, the metal top, all had to be carried to the summit of the 1500-foot cliff …the solution…was the use of Eskimo dog teams…hitched ten to twelve to a sledge…day after day the teams made three round trips to the top, over the snowy treacherous glacier surface. Marie Peary Stafford<br> <br>  Unknown photographer, Transferring cement to shore; sledging supplies up the glacier, Cape York ,Greenland, July 1932. Ink jet prints from black and white photographs. Robert Abram Bartlett papers, George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library.

<p><b>Getting Ready</b> </p>   The two whale boats were lashed together and a platform made over them with lumber. In this way as many as eighty bags of cement could be taken in one load. The distance to the shore was about a quarter of a mile and the boats were run upon the beach, and the load piled on shore. It was then a matter of carrying the materials 75 yards to the sledges at the foot of the glacier. Jack Angel<br> <br>  All the materials necessary for the work: the lumber for scaffolding, fifteen tons of cement, tools, camp equipment, the marble letters, the metal top, all had to be carried to the summit of the 1500-foot cliff …the solution…was the use of Eskimo dog teams…hitched ten to twelve to a sledge…day after day the teams made three round trips to the top, over the snowy treacherous glacier surface. Marie Peary Stafford<br> <br>  Unknown photographer, Transferring cement to shore; sledging supplies up the glacier, Cape York ,Greenland, July 1932. Ink jet prints from black and white photographs. Robert Abram Bartlett papers, George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library.
<p><b>Early Work</b> </p>   One of the crew created a model of the monument in snow, so all could see what it would look like. Stone masons from Newfoundland used local rock to build it. Marie described the monument: <br> The form of the memorial was simplicity itself—a sixty foot shaft of native stone, quarried at the spot, and topped by a cap of non-tarnishable metal similar to that which crowns the Empire State and Chrysler buildings. In shape, the monument was to be triangular, with one point directed towards the north and on each of the other sides, marble letter “P’s” were to be set in, standing for 'Peary' and the 'Pole.' Marie Peary Stafford<br> <br>  Unknown photographer, Snow model of the Peary Monument; mason checking stone, Cape York, Greenland, 1932. Ink jet prints from black and white photographs. Robert Abram Bartlett papers, George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library.

<p><b>Early Work</b> </p>   One of the crew created a model of the monument in snow, so all could see what it would look like. Stone masons from Newfoundland used local rock to build it. Marie described the monument: <br> The form of the memorial was simplicity itself—a sixty foot shaft of native stone, quarried at the spot, and topped by a cap of non-tarnishable metal similar to that which crowns the Empire State and Chrysler buildings. In shape, the monument was to be triangular, with one point directed towards the north and on each of the other sides, marble letter “P’s” were to be set in, standing for 'Peary' and the 'Pole.' Marie Peary Stafford<br> <br>  Unknown photographer, Snow model of the Peary Monument; mason checking stone, Cape York, Greenland, 1932. Ink jet prints from black and white photographs. Robert Abram Bartlett papers, George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library.
<p><b>Base of the Monument</b> </p>   At the base of the monument is a plaque with a dedication acknowledging the support of the many donors, as well as a cornerstone in which the team left a record of all those involved in the construction and a replica of the flag Josephine Peary had sewn for Peary, which accompanied on all his expeditions.<br> <br>  The plaque reads:<br>  “Inveniam Viam Aut Faciam”<br>  Robert Edwin Peary<br>  “The first to lead a party of his fellow men to a pole of the earth”<br>  April 6, 1909<br> <br>   During twenty-five years of persistent and courageous work in the Arctic, he also determined the insularity of Greenland and discovered the Cape York meteorites. This Monument to his memory is erected here in 1932 by his wife and children in grateful recognition of the devoted services of the Eskimo people.<br> <br>  Unknown photographer, The base of the monument showing the plaque and cornerstone, Cape York, Greenland, July 1932. Ink jet print from black and white photograph. Robert Abram Bartlett papers, George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library.

<p><b>Camp Scenes</b> </p>   We camped about 200 feet below the top of the Cape on a southern slope. The thirty days which were spent in camp will always be remembered as outstanding to each member of the construction gang. We went onto the mountain with very light equipment, three small tents with a square tent 9 by 12 feet….when the sun shone or when it rained, water would flow through the rocks over the ice underneath. Hence we had no trouble to get water, and at times it was only necessary to push aside a few stones inside the tent and dip it up. Jack Angel.<br> <br>   Unknown photographer, Campsite, Cape York, Greenland, 1932. Ink jet print from black and white photograph. Robert Abram Bartlett papers, George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library.
<p><b>Setting in the 'P’s'</b> </p>   On August 11th … we laid the first piece of marble, and built the “P’s” in as we went along. There are two marble P’s; one on the N.E. face and the other on the N.W. face. Each “P” was in seven pieces…The cap itself fits over the completed lower section. … The lower section of the cap was filled in with concrete, and deformed rods about two feet in length, set in this concrete, were bolted to the cap. The cap is therefore fastened rigidly to the masonry. Jack Angel<br> <br>   Unknown photographer, Setting in the 'P’s'; Placing the cap , Cape York, Greenland, August 1932. Ink jet prints from black and white photographs. Robert Abram Bartlett papers, George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library.

<p><b>Setting in the 'P’s'</b> </p>   On August 11th … we laid the first piece of marble, and built the “P’s” in as we went along. There are two marble P’s; one on the N.E. face and the other on the N.W. face. Each “P” was in seven pieces…The cap itself fits over the completed lower section. … The lower section of the cap was filled in with concrete, and deformed rods about two feet in length, set in this concrete, were bolted to the cap. The cap is therefore fastened rigidly to the masonry. Jack Angel<br> <br>   Unknown photographer, Setting in the 'P’s'; Placing the cap , Cape York, Greenland, August 1932. Ink jet prints from black and white photographs. Robert Abram Bartlett papers, George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library.
<p><b>The Monument Completed</b> </p>   Tuesday August 16th, we had a wonderful day at the monument. When the last of the material had been sent up from the shore I went up on top and watched the last stages of the work progress. Words cannot express the depth of my feelings as I saw the two big marble “P’s” one on the NE face and the other on the NW face, which were started 34 feet 6 inches above the ground grow to completion. Robert A. Bartlett<br> <br>   Unknown photographer, Robert A. Bartlett at the top of the Peary Monument, Cape York, Greenland, August 16, 1932. Ink jet print from black and white photograph. Robert Abram Bartlett papers, George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library.

<p><b>Dedicating the Monument</b> </p>   The monument was dedicated on Sunday, August 21.  At last came the day when the monument was complete and we were able to dedicate it. The ceremonies were extremely simple. In the presence of the entire ship’s personnel and the Eskimos of the neighboring villages, Captain Bob made a short speech and then after a few words spoken as mother’s representative, I unveiled the memorial tablet. …All about us flew the flags of the various societies with which dad had been affiliated and over all flew the Stars and Stripes---for whose glory he had dared so much. Marie Peary Stafford<br> <br>   Unknown photographer, Inughuit members of the team; Stone masons and construction crew; and Robert A. Bartlett and Marie A.P. Stafford unveiling the plaque, Cape York, Greenland, August 21, 1932. Ink jet prints from black and white photographs. Robert Abram Bartlett papers, George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library.
<p><b>Dedicating the Monument</b> </p>   The monument was dedicated on Sunday, August 21.  At last came the day when the monument was complete and we were able to dedicate it. The ceremonies were extremely simple. In the presence of the entire ship’s personnel and the Eskimos of the neighboring villages, Captain Bob made a short speech and then after a few words spoken as mother’s representative, I unveiled the memorial tablet. …All about us flew the flags of the various societies with which dad had been affiliated and over all flew the Stars and Stripes---for whose glory he had dared so much. Marie Peary Stafford<br> <br>   Unknown photographer, Inughuit members of the team; Stone masons and construction crew; and Robert A. Bartlett and Marie A.P. Stafford unveiling the plaque, Cape York, Greenland, August 21, 1932. Ink jet prints from black and white photographs. Robert Abram Bartlett papers, George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library.

<p><b>Dedicating the Monument</b> </p>   The monument was dedicated on Sunday, August 21.  At last came the day when the monument was complete and we were able to dedicate it. The ceremonies were extremely simple. In the presence of the entire ship’s personnel and the Eskimos of the neighboring villages, Captain Bob made a short speech and then after a few words spoken as mother’s representative, I unveiled the memorial tablet. …All about us flew the flags of the various societies with which dad had been affiliated and over all flew the Stars and Stripes---for whose glory he had dared so much. Marie Peary Stafford<br> <br>   Unknown photographer, Inughuit members of the team; Stone masons and construction crew; and Robert A. Bartlett and Marie A.P. Stafford unveiling the plaque, Cape York, Greenland, August 21, 1932. Ink jet prints from black and white photographs. Robert Abram Bartlett papers, George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library.
<p><b>Two Views of the Monument</b> </p>   The monument stands a lasting tribute to the tireless energy of Captain Robert A. Bartlett whose utter inability to see the impossible made it a practical success. Jack Angel. <br> <br>  I told Otah, we were handing the monument over to his people, and appointed him to see to it that they knew the whole story of how and why the monument had been built, and to see to it that the story was passed to future generations. Robert A. Bartlett<br> <br>   Unknown photographer, The Peary Monument, Cape York, Greenland, 1932. Ink jet print from black and white photograph. Robert Abram Bartlett papers, George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library.

<p><b>Two Views of the Monument</b> </p>   The monument stands a lasting tribute to the tireless energy of Captain Robert A. Bartlett whose utter inability to see the impossible made it a practical success. Jack Angel. <br> <br>  I told Otah, we were handing the monument over to his people, and appointed him to see to it that they knew the whole story of how and why the monument had been built, and to see to it that the story was passed to future generations. Robert A. Bartlett<br> <br>   Kellerman, Maurice, The Peary Monument, Cape York, Greenland, 1932. Ink jet print from motion picture still. Gift of David Nutt, Jr.