Self-portrait at Cape Sheridan, 1909
Robert Edwin Peary
May 6, 1856
|Died||February 20, 1920 (aged 63)|
Washington, D.C., US
|Alma mater||Bowdoin College|
|Known for||Claim to have reached the Geographic North Pole|
|Spouse(s)||Josephine Diebitsch Peary|
|Children||Marie Ahnighito Peary|
Robert Edwin Peary Jr.
Kali Peary (by Aleqasina)
|Awards||Cullum Geographical Medal (1896)|
Charles P. Daly Medal (1902)
Hubbard Medal (1906)
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Branch/service||United States Navy|
|Years of service||1881–1911|
Rear Admiral Robert Edwin Peary Sr. (//; May 6, 1856 – February 20, 1920) was an American explorer and United States Navy officer who made several expeditions to the Arctic in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He is best known for claiming to have reached the geographic North Pole with his expedition on April 6, 1909.
Peary was born in Cresson, Pennsylvania, but was raised in Portland, Maine, following his father's death at a young age. He attended Bowdoin College, then joined the National Geodetic Survey as a draftsman. Peary enlisted in the navy in 1881, as a civil engineer. In 1885, he was made chief of surveying for the Nicaragua Canal (which was never built). Peary visited the Arctic for the first time in 1886, making an unsuccessful attempt to cross Greenland by dogsled. He returned in 1891 much better prepared, and by reaching Independence Fjord (in what is now known as Peary Land) conclusively proved that Greenland was an island. He was one of the first Arctic explorers to study Inuit survival techniques.
On his 1898–1902 expedition, Peary set a new "Farthest North" record by reaching Greenland's northernmost point, Cape Morris Jesup. He also reached the northernmost point of the Western Hemisphere, at the top of Canada's Ellesmere Island. Peary made two further expeditions to the Arctic, in 1905–06 and in 1908–09. During the latter, he claimed to have reached the North Pole. Peary received a number of awards from geographical societies during his lifetime, and in 1911 received the Thanks of Congress and was promoted to rear admiral. He served two terms as president of The Explorers Club, and retired to Eagle Island.
Peary's claim to have reached the North Pole was widely debated in contemporary newspapers (along with a competing claim made by Frederick Cook), but eventually won widespread acceptance. However, in a 1989 book British explorer Wally Herbert concluded that Peary did not reach the pole, although he may have been as close as 60 miles (97 km). His conclusions have been widely accepted, although disputed by some authorities.
- 1 Early life, education and career
- 2 Initial Arctic expeditions
- 3 Second Greenland expedition
- 4 1898–1902 expeditions
- 5 1905–1906 expedition
- 6 Final 1908–1909 expedition
- 7 Later life
- 8 Marriage and family
- 9 Controversy
- 10 Legacy
- 11 Representation in other media
- 12 Honors
- 13 Dates of rank
- 14 Notes
- 15 References
- 16 External links
Early life, education and career
Robert Edwin Peary was born on May 6, 1856, in Cresson, Pennsylvania, to Charles N. and Mary P. Peary. After his father died in 1859, Peary's mother took the boy with her and settled in Portland, Maine. After growing up in Portland, Peary attended Bowdoin College, some 36 miles (58 km) to the north. He was a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon and Phi Beta Kappa fraternities while at college. He graduated in 1877 with a civil engineering degree.
Peary lived in Fryeburg, Maine, from 1878 to 1879. During that time he made a profile survey from the top of Fryeburg's Jockey Cap Rock. The 360 degree survey names the larger hills and mountains visible from the summit. His boyhood friend, Alfred E. Burton, suggested that the profile survey be made into a monument. The survey was cast in bronze and set atop a granite cylinder, and erected to his memory by the Peary Family in 1938. A hike of less than a mile leads visitors to the summit and the monument.
After college, Peary worked as a draftsman making technical drawings in Washington, D.C., at the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey office. He joined the United States Navy and on October 26, 1881, was commissioned as a civil engineer, with the relative rank of lieutenant. From 1884 to 1885 he was assistant engineer on the surveys for the Nicaragua Canal, and later became the engineer in charge. As reflected in a diary entry he made in 1885, during his time in the Navy, he resolved to be the first man to reach the North Pole.
In April 1886 he wrote a paper for the National Academy of Sciences proposing two methods for crossing Greenland's ice cap. One was to start from the west coast and trek about 400 miles (640 km) to the east coast. The second, more difficult path was to start from Whale Sound at the top of the known portion of Baffin Bay and travel north to determine whether Greenland was an island or if it extended all the way across the Arctic (1,300 miles). Peary was promoted to the rank of lieutenant commander on January 5, 1901, and to commander on April 6, 1902.
Initial Arctic expeditions
Peary made his first expedition to the Arctic in 1886, intending to cross Greenland by dog sled, taking the first of his own suggested paths. He was given six months' leave from the Navy, and he received $500 from his mother to book passage north and buy supplies. He sailed on a whaler to Greenland, arriving in Godhavn on June 6, 1886. Peary wanted to make a solo trek but a young Danish official named Christian Maigaard convinced him he would die if he went out alone. Maigaard and Peary set off together and traveled nearly 100 miles (160 km) due east before turning back because they were short on food. This was the second-farthest penetration of Greenland's ice sheet at that date. Peary returned home knowing more of what was required for long-distance ice trekking.
Back in Washington attending with the US Navy, Peary was ordered in November 1887 to survey likely routes for a proposed Nicaragua Canal. To complete his tropical outfit he needed a sun hat, so he went to a men's clothing store. There he met 21-year-old Matthew Henson, a black man working as a sales clerk. Learning that Henson had six years of seagoing experience as a cabin boy, Peary immediately hired him as a personal valet.
On assignment in the jungles of Nicaragua, Peary told Henson of his dream of Arctic exploration. Henson accompanied Peary on every one of his subsequent Arctic expeditions, becoming his field assistant and "first man," a critical member of his team.
Second Greenland expedition
In 1891 Peary returned to Greenland, taking the second, more difficult route that he had laid out in 1886: traveling farther north to find out whether Greenland was a much larger landmass extending to the North Pole. He was financed by several groups, including the American Geographic Society, the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences, and the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences. Members of this expedition included Peary's aide Henson, Dr. Frederick A. Cook, who served as the group's surgeon; and the expedition's ethnologist, Norwegian skier Eivind Astrup; bird expert and marksman Langdon Gibson, and John M. Verhoeff, who was a weatherman and mineralogist. Peary also took his wife along as dietitian, though she had no formal training. Newspaper reports criticized Peary for bringing his wife.
On June 6, 1891, the party left Brooklyn, New York, in the seal hunting ship SS Kite. In July, as Kite was ramming through sheets of surface ice, the ship's iron tiller suddenly spun around and broke Peary's lower leg; both bones snapped between the knee and ankle. Peary was unloaded with the rest of the supplies at a camp they called Red Cliff, located at the mouth of MacCormick Fjord at the NW end of the Inglefield Gulf, and a dwelling was built for his recuperation during the next six months. Josephine stayed with Peary. Gibson, Cook, Verhoeff and Astrup hunted game by boat, and became familiar with the area and with the Inuit people.
Unlike most previous explorers, Peary had studied Inuit survival techniques; he built igloos during the expedition and dressed in practical furs in the native fashion. He adopted these practices both for heat preservation (furs) and to dispense with the extra weight of tents and sleeping bags when on the march by building igloos instead. Peary also relied on the Inuit as hunters and dog-drivers on his expeditions. He pioneered the system (which he called the "Peary system") of using support teams and establishing supply caches for Arctic travel. The Inuit were curious about the American party and came to visit Red Cliff. Josephine was bothered by the Inuit people's smell (they did not bathe), by their flea infestations and by their food. However, she studied the people and kept a journal of her experiences. In September 1891, Peary's men took dog sled teams and pushed inland onto the ice sheet, to lay caches of supplies. They did not go farther than 30 miles (50 km) from Red Cliff.
Peary's leg mended in February 1892. By April, he made some short trips with Josephine and an Inuit dog sled driver to native villages to purchase supplies. On May 3, 1892, Peary finally set out on the intended trek with Henson, Gibson, Cook and Astrup. At about the 150-mile (240 km) mark, Peary continued on with Astrup. The two found the 1,000-metre (3,300 ft) high view from Navy Cliff to be revealing: they saw Independence Fjord and concluded that Greenland was an island. The men trekked back to Red Cliff and got there on August 6, having traveled a total of 1,250 miles (2,010 km). In 1896, he received his degrees in Kane Lodge No. 454, New York City, and presented the Lodge the Masonic Flag that was raised on May 20–25, 1895, at Independence Bay, Greenland. He was a Master Mason.
As a result of Peary's 1898–1902 expedition, he claimed an 1899 visual discovery of "Jesup Land" west of Ellesmere. He claimed that this sighting of Axel Heiberg Island was prior to its discovery by Norwegian explorer Otto Sverdrup's expedition. This contention has been universally rejected by exploration societies and historians. However, the American Geographical Society and Royal Geographical Society of London honored Peary for tenacity, mapping of previously uncharted areas, and his discovery in 1900 of Cape Jesup at the north tip of Greenland. Peary also achieved a "farthest north" for the western hemisphere in 1902 north of Canada's Ellesmere Island.
Peary's next expedition was supported by a $50,000 gift by George Crocker, who was the youngest son of the banker Charles Crocker. Peary used the money for a new ship. The SS Roosevelt navigated through the ice between Greenland and Ellesmere Island, establishing an American hemisphere "farthest north by ship." The 1906 "Peary System" dogsled drive for the pole across the rough sea ice of the Arctic Ocean started from the north tip of Ellesmere at 83° north latitude. The parties made well under 10 miles (16 km) a day until they became separated by a storm.
Peary was inadvertently without a companion sufficiently trained in navigation to verify his account from that point northward. With insufficient food, and with uncertainty about whether he could negotiate the ice between him and land, he made the best possible dash and barely escaped with his life off the melting ice. On April 20, he was no further north than 86°30' latitude. He claimed the next day to have achieved a Farthest North world record at 87°06' and returned to 86°30' without camping, an implied trip of at least 72 nautical miles (133 km) between sleeping, even assuming direct travel with no detours.
After returning to Roosevelt in May, Peary in June began weeks of difficult travel by heading west along the shore of Ellesmere. He discovered Cape Colgate, from the summit of which he claimed in his 1907 book that he had seen a previously undiscovered far-north "Crocker Land" to the northwest on June 24, 1906. A later review of his diary for this time and place found that he had written, "No land visible." On December 15, 1906, the National Geographic Society of the United States, which was primarily known for publishing a popular magazine, certified Peary's 1905-6 expedition and "Farthest" with its highest honor, the Hubbard Medal. No major professional geographical society followed suit. In 1914 Donald MacMillan and Fitzhugh Green's expedition found that Crocker Land did not exist.
Final 1908–1909 expedition
For his final assault on the Pole, Peary and 23 men, including Ross Gilmore Marvin, set off from New York City on July 6, 1908 aboard the SS Roosevelt under the command of Captain Robert Bartlett. They wintered near Cape Sheridan on Ellesmere Island, and from Ellesmere departed for the pole on February 28 – March 1, 1909. The last support party was turned back from "Bartlett Camp" on April 1, 1909, in latitude no greater than 87°45' north. (The figure commonly given, 87°47', is based upon Bartlett's slight miscomputation of the distance of a single Sumner line from the pole.) On the final stage of the journey toward the North Pole, Peary told Bartlett to stay behind. He continued with five assistants, none capable of making navigation observations: African American Matthew Henson, and Inuit Ootah, Egigingwah, Seegloo and Ooqueah. On April 6, 1909, he established "Camp Jesup" allegedly within 5 miles (8.0 km) of the pole.
Peary was unable to fully enjoy the fruits of his labors. Upon returning to civilization, he learned that Dr. Frederick A. Cook, who had been a surgeon on the 1891–1892 Peary expedition, claimed to have reached the pole in 1908. Despite remaining doubts, a committee by the National Geographic Society, as well as, the Naval Affairs Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives credited Peary with reaching the North Pole. A reassessment of Peary's notebook in 1988 by British polar explorer Wally Herbert found it "lacking in essential data", thus, renewing doubts about Peary's discovery.
Peary was promoted to the rank of captain in the Navy on October 20, 1910. By his lobbying, Peary headed off a move among some US Congressmen to have his claim to the pole evaluated by other explorers. Eventually recognized by Congress to have "attained" the pole, Peary was given the Thanks of Congress by a special act of March 3, 1911. By a special act of Congress on March 30, 1911, Peary was promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral in the Navy Civil Engineer Corps retroactive to April 6, 1909, and retired the same day.
Later in the same year, he retired to Eagle Island on the coast of Maine, in the town of Harpswell. (His home there has been designated a Maine State Historic Site.) Following his retirement, Peary received many honors from numerous scientific societies of Europe and America for his Arctic explorations and discoveries.
He served twice as president of The Explorers Club from 1909 to 1911 and 1913 to 1916.
In early 1916, Peary became chairman of the National Aerial Coast Patrol Commission, a private organization created by the Aero Club of America. It advocated the use of aircraft in detecting warships and submarines off the U.S. coast. Peary used his celebrity to promote the use of military and naval aviation, which led directly to the formation of Naval Reserve aerial coastal patrol units during the First World War.
At the close of the First World War, Peary proposed a system of eight air mail routes, which became the genesis of the U.S. Postal Service's air mail system.
Peary died in Washington, D.C. on February 20, 1920. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. More than 60 years later, Matthew Henson was honored by being re-interred nearby in Arlington Cemetery on April 6, 1988.
Marriage and family
On August 11, 1888, Peary married Josephine Diebitsch, a business school valedictorian who thought the modern woman should be more than just a mother. Diebitsch had started working at the Smithsonian Institution when she was 19–20 years old, replacing her father after he became ill and filling his position as linguist. She resigned from the Smithsonian in 1886 upon becoming engaged to Peary.
The newlyweds honeymooned in Atlantic City, New Jersey, then moved to Philadelphia because Peary was assigned there. Peary's mother accompanied them on their honeymoon and she moved into their Philadelphia apartment, but not without friction between the two women. Josephine told Peary that his mother should return to live in Maine.
They had two children together, Marie Ahnighito and Robert Peary, Jr. His daughter wrote several books, including a children's book about the Arctic adventures. Due to his life as an explorer, Peary was frequently gone for years at a time. In their first twenty-three years of his marriage, he spent only three with his wife and family. He missed the birth of his son and his early death.
Peary and his aide Henson both had relationships with Inuit women outside of marriage and fathered children with them. Peary appears to have started a relationship with Aleqasina (Alakahsingwah) when she was about 14 years old. She bore him at least two children, including a son called Kaala, Karree, or Kali. French explorer and ethnologist Jean Malaurie was the first to report on Peary's descendants after spending a year in Greenland in 1951-52. S. Allen Counter, a Harvard neuroscience professor, interested in Henson's role in the Arctic expeditions, went to Greenland in 1986. He found Peary's son Kali and Henson's son Anaukaq, then octogenarians, and some of their descendants. Counter arranged to bring the men and their families to the United States to meet their American relatives and see their fathers' gravesites. Later, Counter wrote about the episode in his book, North Pole Legacy: Black, White and Eskimo (1991). He also gained national recognition of Henson's role in the expeditions. A subsequent documentary by the same name was also released. Wally Herbert also noted the relationship and children in his book on Peary's 1909 expedition, published in 1989.
Peary's claim to have reached the North Pole has long been subject to doubt. Some polar historians believe that Peary honestly thought he had reached the pole. Others have suggested that he was guilty of deliberately exaggerating his accomplishments. Peary's account has been newly criticized by Pierre Berton (2001) and Bruce Henderson (2005).
Lack of independent validation
Peary did not submit his evidence for review to neutral national or international parties or to other explorers. Peary's claim was certified by the National Geographic Society (NGS) in 1909 after a cursory examination of Peary's records, as NGS was a major sponsor of his expedition. This was a few weeks before Cook's Pole claim was rejected by a Danish panel of explorers and navigational experts.
The National Geographic Society limited access to Peary's records. At the time, his proofs were not made available to scrutiny by other professionals, as had been done by the Danish panel. Gilbert Grosvenor persuaded the National Academy of Sciences not to get involved. The Royal Geographical Society (RGS) of London gave Peary its gold medal in 1910, despite internal council splits which only became known in the 1970s. The RGS based their decision on the belief that the NGS had performed a serious scrutiny of the "proofs", which was not the case. Neither the American Geographical Society nor any of the geographical societies of semi-Arctic Scandinavia has recognized Peary's North Pole claim.
The party that accompanied Peary on the final stage of the journey included no one else who was trained in navigation and could independently confirm (or contradict) Peary's own navigational work, a point exacerbated by Peary's omission to produce records of observed data for steering, for the direction ("variation") of the compass, for his longitudinal position at any time, or for zeroing-in on the pole either latitudinally or transversely beyond Bartlett Camp.
The last five marches when Peary was accompanied by a navigator (Capt. Bob Bartlett) averaged no better than 13 miles (21 km) marching north. But once the last support party turned back at "Camp Bartlett" from where Bartlett was ordered southward, at least 133 nautical miles (246 km) from the pole, Peary's claimed speeds immediately doubled for the five marches to Camp Jesup, and then quadrupled during the 2½ day return to Camp Bartlett—at which point his speed slowed drastically compared to that pace. Peary's account of a beeline journey to the pole and back — which would have assisted his claim of such speed — is contradicted by companion Henson's account of tortured detours to avoid "pressure ridges" (ice floes' rough edges, often a few meters high) and "leads" (of open water between those floes).
The conflicting and unverified claims of Cook and Peary prompted Roald Amundsen to take extensive precautions in navigation during his Antarctic expedition so as to leave no room for doubt concerning his 1911 attainment of the South Pole, which (like Robert Scott's a month later in 1912) was supported by the sextant, theodolite, and compass observations of several other navigators. See Polheim.
In sum, Peary claimed to travel (in his official report) a total of 304 nautical miles between April 2, 1909 (when he left Bartlett's last camp) and April 9 (when he returned there), 133 NMs to the pole, 133 NMs back and 38 nautical miles in the vicinity of the pole. These distances are counted without detours due to drift, leads and difficult ice, i.e. the distance travelled must have been significantly higher to make good the distance claimed. Peary and his party arrived back in Cape Columbia on the morning of April 23, 1909, only about two and a half days after Capt Bartlett, yet Peary claimed he had traveled a minimum of 304 NMs more than Bartlett (to the Pole and vicinity).
Review of diary
The diary that Robert E. Peary kept on his 1909 polar expedition was finally made available for research in 1986. Historian Larry Schweikart examined it, finding that: the writing was consistent throughout (giving no evidence of post-expedition alteration), that there were consistent pemmican and other stains on all pages, and that all evidence was consistent with a conclusion that Peary's observations were made on the spot he claimed. Schweikart had compared the reports and experiences of Japanese explorer Naomi Uemura, who reached the North Pole alone in 1978, to those of Peary and found they were consistent. However, Peary made no entries in the diary on the crucial days 6 and 7 April 1909, and his famous words "The Pole at Last!", allegedly written in his diary at the pole, were written on loose slips of paper that were inserted into the diary.
1989 National Geographic Society studies
In 1984 the National Geographic Society (a major sponsor of Peary's expeditions) commissioned the Arctic explorer Wally Herbert to write an assessment of Peary's original 1909 diary and astronomical observations. As Herbert researched the material, he came to believe that Peary must have falsified his records and concluded that he did not reach the Pole. His book, The Noose of Laurels, caused a furor when it was published in 1989. His conclusion has been widely accepted. Herbert, who reached the Pole in 1969, is recognized as the first man leading a team to reach the Pole.
In 1989 the NGS also conducted two-dimensional photogrammetric analysis of the shadows in photographs and a review of ocean depth measures taken by Peary; its staff concluded that he was no more than 5 miles (8.0 km) away from the pole. Peary's original camera (a 1908 #4 Folding Pocket Kodak) has not survived. As such cameras were made with at least six different lenses from various manufacturers, the focal length of the lens—and hence the shadow analysis based on it—must be considered uncertain at best. The NGS has never released Peary's photos for independent analysis. Specialists questioned the Society's conclusions.
The NGS commissioned the Foundation for the Promotion of the Art of Navigation to resolve the issue. Reporting on its conclusion that Peary had reached the Pole, Gilbert M. Grosvenor, president of the NGS, said, "I consider this the end of a historic controversy and the confirmation of due justice to a great explorer." The Navigation Foundation published its full report on December 11, 1989.
Review of depth soundings
Supporters of Peary and Henson assert that the depth soundings they made on the outward journey have been matched by recent surveys, and so their claim of having reached the Pole is confirmed. Only the first few of the Peary party's soundings, taken nearest the shore, touched bottom; experts have said their usefulness is limited to showing that he was above deep water. Peary stated (in 1909 Congressional hearings about the expedition) that he made no longitudinal observations during his trip, only latitude observations, yet he maintained he stayed on the "Columbia meridian" all along, and that his soundings were made on this meridian. The pack ice was moving all the time, so he had no way of knowing where he was without longitudinal observations.
Recreation of expedition in 2005
British explorer Tom Avery and four companions recreated the outward portion of Peary's journey in 2005, using replica wooden sleds and Canadian Eskimo Dog teams. They ensured their sled weights were the same as Peary's sleds throughout their journey. They reached the North Pole in 36 days, 22 hours – nearly five hours faster than Peary. Avery writes on his web site that
"The admiration and respect which I hold for Robert Peary, Matthew Henson and the four Inuit men who ventured North in 1909, has grown enormously since we set out from Cape Columbia. Having now seen for myself how he travelled across the pack ice, I am more convinced than ever that Peary did indeed discover the North Pole."
After reaching the Pole, Avery and his team were airlifted off the ice rather than returning by dogsled.
Analysis of the speeds made by Avery do more to cast doubt on Peary's claim than to confirm it. While Peary claimed 130 nautical miles (240 km) made good in his last five marches, horrific ice conditions meant that Avery managed only 71[which?] in his last five marches. Avery never exceeded 90 nautical miles (170 km) in any five-day stretch, and was losing over 7 miles (11 km) a day at this time to the southerly drift of the ice. Avery matched Peary's overall 37-day total in part because Peary was held up by open water for five days at the Big Lead. But Peary had a team consisting of 133 dogs and 25 men, meaning he was able to keep his "polar party" fresh for the sprint to the Pole. Peary's team was more experienced than Avery's at dog sledding.
- The Liberty ship SS Robert E. Peary, the destroyer USS Peary (DD-226), Edsall class Destroyer Escort USS Robert E. Peary (DE-132), the cargo ship USNS Robert E. Peary (T-AKE-5), Knox-class frigate USS Robert E. Peary (FF 1073) and the ice rated, US-flagged tanker Maersk Peary have been named for him.
- The Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum at Bowdoin College is named for Peary and fellow Arctic explorer Donald B. MacMillan.
- On May 28, 1986, the United States Postal Service issued a 22-cent postage stamp in honor of Peary and Henson; they were previously honored in 1959.
- Admiral Peary Area Vocational-Technical School in Ebensburg, PA is named after him.
- The lunar crater Peary, appropriately located at the moon's north pole, is named after him. The crater name was approved in 1964.
The explorer Major General Adolphus Greely noted that no Arctic expert questions that Peary courageously risked his life traveling hundreds of miles from land, and that he reached regions adjacent to the pole. (After initial acceptance of Peary's claim, he later came to doubt Peary's having reached 90°.) In his book Ninety Degrees North: The Quest for the North Pole (2001), polar historian Fergus Fleming describes Peary as "undoubtedly the most driven, possibly the most successful and probably the most unpleasant man in the annals of polar exploration."
Representation in other media
Peary's exploits and life were portrayed in the 1998 TV movie Glory & Honor. Henry Czerny played Robert Peary. His associate Matthew Henson was played by Delroy Lindo. The film won a Primetime Emmy and Lindo won a Golden Satellite Award for his performance.
E.L. Doctorow's novel Ragtime (1974) has as a major character Father, a member of Peary's 1908 polar expedition. The expedition is described from the point of view of one not chosen for the final polar attempt.
Pierre Berton Canadian author and historian, wrote extensively about Peary and his Arctic expeditions in his book: (1988 Anchor Canada ISBN 0-385-65845-1. OCLC 46661513.) The Arctic Grail: The Quest for the North West Passage and the North Pole, 1818–1909.
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- American Geographical Society, Cullum Geographical Medal (1896)
- American Geographical Society, Charles P. Daly Medal (1902)
- National Geographic Society, Hubbard Medal (1906)
- Royal Geographical Society of London, special great gold medal
- National Geographic Society of Washington, the special great gold medal
- Geographical Society of Philadelphia, great gold medal
- Chicago Geographical Society, Helen Culver medal
- Imperial German Geographical Society, Nachtigall gold medal
- Royal Italian Geographical Society, King Humbert gold medal
- Imperial Austrian Geographical Society
- Hungarian Geographical Society gold medal
- Royal Belgian Geographical Society gold medal
- Royal Geographical Society of Antwerp gold medal
- Spanish Campaign Medal
- Bowdoin College bestowed the honorary degree of doctor of laws
- Edinburgh University bestowed an honorary degree of doctor of laws
- New York Chamber of Commerce honorary member.
- Pennsylvania Society Honorary member
- Manchester Geographical Society Honorary membership
- Royal Netherlands Geographical Society of Amsterdam Honorary membership
- Royal Scottish Geographical Society, special trophy, replica in silver of the ships used by Hudson, Baffin, and Davis.
- Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor, awarded 1913
- In Arlington National Cemetery on April 6, 1922, the Admiral Robert Edwin Peary monument was unveiled by his daughter, Mrs. Marie Peary Stafford. Numerous government officials, including President Harding and Former Secretary of the Navy Edwin Denby were in attendance.
- On May 28, 1986, the United States Postal Service issued a 22 cent postage stamp in his and Matthew Henson's honor.
Dates of rank
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- Civil Engineer (with relative rank of Lieutenant) – 26 October 1881
- Lieutenant Commander – 5 January 1901
- Commander – 6 April 1902
- Captain – 20 October 1910
- Rear Admiral – 3 March 1911 (retroactive to 6 April 1909)
- Retired – 3 March 1911
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- For obvious reasons, this latitude was never published by Peary. It is in a typescript of his April 1906 diary, discovered by Wally Herbert in his assessment commissioned by the National Geographic Society in the late 1980s. (Herbert, 1989). The typescript suddenly stopped there, one day before Peary's April 21 purported "farthest". The original of the April 1906 record is the only missing diary of Peary's exploration career. (Rawlins, Contributions).
- R. Peary, Nearest the Pole, 1907, pp. 202, 207, and 280
- Rawlins, Contributions
- Henderson, Bruce (2009). "Who Discovered the North Pole?". Smithsonian. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
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- See Congressman de Alva Alexander in Rawlins, 1973.
- New York Times, March 4, 1911
- New York Times, March 30, 1911.
- New York Times, January 24, 1916 and March 31, 1916.
- New York Times, November 25, 1918
- Stafford, Edward Peary (2004). "Biography of Josephine Peary". Peary's Eagle Island. Archived from the original on October 4, 2013. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
- Peary, Marie Ahnighito, The Red Caboose (1932, William Morrow & Co.).
- Sherman, Josepha (2005). Exploring the North Pole: The Story of Robert Edwin Peary and Matthew Henson. p. 32.
- Herbert, Wally (1989). The Noose of Laurels. pp. 206–207.
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- Special to the, New York Times (December 16, 1909). "NATIONS HAIL PEARY AS POLE DISCOVERER". New York Times: 1.
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- Peary's expedition possessed 4000 fathoms of sounding line, but he took only 2000 with him over an ocean already established as being deeper in many regions. See, D. Rawlins, U. S. Naval Institute Proceedings, June 1970, p. 38, and Polar Notes (Dartmouth College), volume 10, October, 1970, p. 38
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- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 5, 2013. Retrieved August 10, 2013.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- Peary, Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature, International Astronomical Union (IAU) Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN)
- "American Geographical Society Honorary Fellowships" (PDF). amergeog.org. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 4, 2009. Retrieved March 2, 2009.
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- Berton, Pierre (2001). The Arctic Grail. Anchor Canada (originally published 1988). ISBN 978-0-385-65845-4. OCLC 46661513.
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- Coe, Brian (2003) [First published 1988]. Kodak Cameras: The First Hundred Years. East Sussex: Hove Foto Books. ISBN 978-1-874707-37-0.
- Davies, Thomas D. (2009). Robert E. Peary at the North Pole. Seattle: Starpath Publications. ISBN 978-0914025207.
- Fleming, Fergus (September 27, 2001). Ninety degrees north: the quest for the North Pole. London: Granta Books. ISBN 978-1-86207-449-1. LCCN 2004426384. LCC G620.F54 2001.
- Henderson, Bruce (2005). True North: Peary, Cook, and the Race to the Pole. W. W. Norton and Company. ISBN 978-0-393-32738-0. OCLC 63397177.
- Herbert, Wally (July 1989). The noose of laurels: Robert E. Peary and the race to the North Pole. New York, NY: Atheneum. ISBN 978-0-689-12034-3. LCCN 89000090. LCC G635.P4 H4 1989.
- Mills, William J. (2003). Exploring Polar Frontiers: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1576074220.
- Nuttall, Mark (2012). Encyclopedia of the Arctic. Routledge. ISBN 978-1579584368.
- Rawlins, Dennis (1973). Peary at the North Pole: fact or fiction?. Washington: Robert B. Luce. ISBN 978-0-88331-042-7. LCCN 72097708. LCC G635.P4 R38.
- Robinson, Michael (2006). The Coldest Crucible: Arctic Exploration and American Culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-72184-2.
- Schweikart, Larry. Polar Revisionism and the Peary Claim: The Diary of Robert E. Peary, The Historian, XLVIII, May 1986, pp. 341–58.
- American History, Feb. 2013, Vol. 47 Issue 6, p. 33
- Brendle, Anna. "Profile: African-American North Pole Explorer Matthew Henson." National Geographic News. National Geographic Society, 28 Oct. 2010. Web. 29 Nov. 2015
- Dolan, Sean. Matthew Henson. New York: Chelsea Juniors, 1992. Print.
- Johnson, Dolores. Onward. Washington D.C.: National Geographic, 1949. Print.
- "On Top Of The World" American History 47.6 (2013): 33–41. History Reference Center. Web. 16 Dec. 2015
- "Robert Peary." American History. ABC-CLIO, 2015. Web. 21 Oct. 2015.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Robert Peary.|
|Wikisource has original works written by or about:|
- The Race to the North Pole, historical periodicals at the Library of Congress
- "Peary Discovers the North Pole After Eight Trials in 23 Years", New York Times, April 6, 1909
- "A Clash of Polar Frauds and Those Who Believe", New York Times, September 7, 2009
- Works by Robert Peary at Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about Robert Peary at Internet Archive
- Works by Robert Peary at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
- Robert Peary at Find a Grave
- Archives of The Peary Arctic Club
- Newspaper clippings about Robert Peary in the 20th Century Press Archives of the German National Library of Economics (ZBW)