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Race to the North Pole: Topics in Chronicling America

Two scientists in the early 1900s both claimed to have dicovered the North Pole, sparking a scientific debate. This guide provices access to materials related to the "Race to the North Pole" in the Chronicling America digital collection of newspapers.


Controversy over who was the first to reach the North Pole seen by side-by-side articles on the topic. September 12, 1909 New-York Tribune (New York, NY), Image 2. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

Competing claims of discovery of the North Pole by explorers Dr. Frederick Cook and Commander Robert E. Peary spark a fierce scientific debate that dotted the newspapers with controversy for years. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.


September 2, 1909 New-York Tribune reports that Dr. Cook reached the North Pole on April 21, 1908.
September 7, 1909 New York Times reports that Peary reached the North Pole on April 6, 1909.
January 1911 Peary appears in front of the Naval Affairs Subcommittee to obtain official government recognition.
March 1911 President Taft signs a bill that recognizes Peary's "Arctic exploration"; does not credit Peary with discovery.