The Stefansson Collection on Polar Exploration maintains an international reputation as one of the finest historical collections on polar exploration and is used by scholars and students throughout the world.
The collection supports instruction and research in history, geography, environmental studies, earth sciences, anthropology, biology and Native American studies. The collection is also used by the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratories and to the Center for Northern Studies in Wolcott, Vermont.
The collection was created and developed by Vilhjalmur Stefansson as his personal library from roughly 1925 through 1951. At that time, it was transferred to Dartmouth College, primarily to support the Northern Studies Program at the College. The collection was purchased by the College in 1952 and has been a part of the Special Collections since that time.
DARTMOUTH COLLEGE PROGRAM
The collection supports coursework in Environmental Studies, Anthropology, History, Geography, and Native American Studies. In addition, members of the Institute of Arctic Studies make heavy use of the collections.
GENERAL SUBJECT BOUNDARIES
The primary subject area is the discovery and exploration of the northern and southern polar regions with the bulk of the collection relating to the north. Materials are divided evenly between pre-twentieth and the twentieth century. Included in the resources are printed materials, manuscripts, and bodies of papers relating to history, geography, geology, transportation, ethnohistory, ethnoarchaeology, language and linguistics.
The primary language of the collection is English. At the same time, there are many materials in Russian, the Scandinavian languages, French and German. There is no language restriction for the collection.
GEOGRAPHICAL AND CHRONOLOGICAL BOUNDARIES
The geographical areas for the collection are lands above 60 degrees North latitude and below 50 degrees South latitude. The latter is defined as the area encompassing Tierra del Fuego. The main concentration of the collection is on the Arctic regions of North America.
The chronological boundaries are materials relating to events in the Arctic before 1925 and in the Antarctic before 1940.
TYPES OF MATERIAL COLLECTED
Manuscripts of any type and form are collected so long as they are originals. The collection does not accept photocopies of materials and microforms have been transferred to the Jones Media Center.
Printed material may be of any type; the emphasis is on books (including journals) in standard format, as well as pamphlets and broadsides. Photographs, especially earlier ones, are collected. The collection contains artifacts ranging from harpoons to a kayak; artifacts are not now actively sought.
OTHER RESOURCES AVAILABLE
For other resources in the Dartmouth College Library see the Polar Regions policy.
1994, Philip Cronenwett
December 2009, Jay Satterfield
Last Updated: 8/5/16