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Cook, Frederick and Peary, Robert Collection
MSS.2017.7.14  
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
The Frederick Cook and Robert Peary Collection, 1904-1960, documents the controversy surrounding the dual claims of the discovery of the North Pole by Frederick Cook and Robert Peary. The bulk of the collection consists of multiple drafts of articles written by William Shea, a Cook supporter who began writing about him after meeting with him. A portion of the collection is dedicated to articles written by various authors expressing their beliefs on the issue, and newspaper clippings regarding Cook and Peary. The records also consist of congressional hearing records regarding the debate, and correspondence discussing the controversy sent to Father Bernard Hubbard, a priest, lecturer, and Alaskan explorer who reignited the issue during his lectures in the mid-twentieth century. Fr. Hubbard was of the belief that Cook was successful in the discovery of the North Pole as opposed to Peary, and most of the correspondence sent to him agrees with this sentiment. This collection is arranged into one series: Series I. Cook-Peary Controversy (1904-1960).
Background
Frederick Albert Cook was born in Callicoon, New York, in 1865. He received his M.D. from New York Medical School in 1890, and soon used his newly acquired skills to become a surgeon for Robert Peary’s 1891-1892 Arctic expedition, where he proved to be a valuable asset in preventing scurvy among the explorers. During his time on Adrien de Gerlache’s Belgian Antarctic Expedition of 1897-1899, he visited Tierra del Fuego, where he met Anglican missionary Thomas Bridges, who had prepared a dictionary in Yahgan. Cook borrowed this dictionary and never returned it, later attempting to publish it as his own work. In 1903, he became his own explorer during a trip to the area surrounding Mount Denali, previously known as Mount McKinley, and later returned to supposedly climb it in 1906. Though he claimed he was the first to scale the mountain, Peary supporters during the North Pole debacle noted that he reached the wrong summit, a spot now known as Fake Peak. In 1907, Cook announced he was determined to discover the North Pole, and claimed to have reached it after a 14-month disappearance. Robert Peary then claimed in 1909 to have truly discovered it first. While Cook originally congratulated Peary, Peary purposefully campaigned to discredit Cook’s claims, since Cook had no navigational records of his trip to prove his achievement. After reviewing Cook's limited records, a commission of the University of Copenhagen ruled in December 1909 that he had not proven that he reached the pole. In 1911, Cook published a memoir of his expedition, continuing to assert his success. His reputation as an explorer never recovered, and he died in 1940. Santa Clara University was founded in 1851 by the Society of Jesus as Santa Clara College and is California’s oldest operating institution of higher learning. It was established on the grounds of Mission Santa Clara de Asìs, the eighth of the original 21 California missions. The college originally operated as a preparatory school and did not offer courses of collegiate rank until 1853. The institution became known as the University of Santa Clara in 1912, when the schools of engineering and law were added. For 110 years, Santa Clara University was an all-male school. In 1961, women were accepted as undergraduates and Santa Clara University became the first coeducational Catholic university in California. The number of students and faculty tripled over the next decade and the university began the largest building program in school history with eight residence halls, a student union, and an athletic stadium. In the early 1970s, the Board of Trustees voted to limit the size of the undergraduate population, an action that was intended to preserve the character and ensure the quality of the university for generations to come. In 1985, the university adopted Santa Clara University as its official name. Bibliography: Santa Clara University. “About SCU – History.” www.scu.edu/about/history.cfm (Accessed Nov. 23, 2010) McKevitt, Gerald, S.J. The University of Santa Clara: A History, 1851-1977. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1979.
Extent
0.42 linear feet (2 half Hollinger boxes)
Restrictions
Materials in Archives & Special Collections may be subject to copyright. All requests for permission to publish from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the University Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Archives & Special Collections as the owner of the physical materials, and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained. Copyright restrictions also apply to digital reproductions of the original materials.
Availability
The collection is open for research. There are no restrictions.