Art and Artifacts of the North

The Dartmouth College Library (http://library.dartmouth.edu/) houses rare research collections in polar studies that range from the latest scientific journal articles to historical photographs and manuscripts in the Stefansson Collection on Polar Exploration in the Rauner Special Collections Library. Much of Dartmouth's northern material was the result of the remarkable period of northern activity at the college in the 1950s and 1960s, as well as support for Canadian and arctic endeavors on the part of then-president John Sloan Dickey.

Vilhjalmur Stefansson (1879–1962), a Canadian Arctic explorer and ethnologist.

Vilhjalmur Stefansson (1879–1962), a Canadian Arctic explorer and ethnologist, came to Dartmouth in 1947 and was instrumental in founding the Institute of Arctic Studies and the Northern and Polar Studies Program. He and his wife, Evelyn, remained involved in arctic studies at Dartmouth until his death. This image of him is from a lantern slide probably taken around 1916 during the Canadian Arctic Expedition and was hand-colored by him. Between 1906 and 1918, he spent ten winters in the Arctic, a record for any non-Eskimo at the time. Stefansson considered the Arctic 'friendly'—suitable for human and animal habitation with untapped natural resources. He devoted his life to educating the world about the region and its strategic position in world affairs. Stefansson is buried at the Pine Knoll Cemetery in Hanover, NH. Photo coutesy of Dartmouth College.

Founded as the private research collection of the arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson, the Stefansson Collection is a rich body of material for research on the history of both the Arctic and Antarctic. It includes published expedition records and diaries, biographies, bibliographies, and general histories of the polar regions, as well as original logbooks, journals, correspondence, and personal papers of many polar explorers.

Many of the photographic holdings relate to the Canadian Arctic Expedition of 1913–1918, but there are also photographs of other expeditions, ships, events, peoples, flora and fauna, and equipment in the collection. The Stefansson Collection also contains paintings, drawings, prints, and sketchbooks, all of which are part of Dartmouth's overall collection of objects related to the art and material culture of Canada and the circumpolar North numbering more than 3,000 items.

During the International Polar Year 2007–2008, the Hood Museum of Art partnered with the Institute of Arctic Studies to develop the exhibit Thin Ice: Inuit Traditions within a Changing Environment (http://hoodmuseum.dartmouth.edu/exhibitions/thinice/index.html), which explored traditional Inuit life through 19th and early 20th century art and artifacts that indigenous arctic peoples used to survive challenging environments. The exhibit highlighted the impact of rapid climate change and the melting of sea ice on Inuit ways of life.