Rasmussen, Knud Johan Victor

Rasmussen, Knud Johan Victor

(kəno͞ot` yō`hän vĭk`tôr räs`mo͝osən), 1879–1933, Danish arctic explorer and ethnologist. Born in Greenland of Eskimo ancestry on his mother's side, he began (1902) 30 years of exploration and of study of the EskimoEskimo
, a general term used to refer to a number of groups inhabiting the coastline from the Bering Sea to Greenland and the Chukchi Peninsula in NE Siberia. A number of distinct groups, based on differences in patterns of resource exploitation, are commonly identified,
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. He sought confirmation of his theory that Eskimos are derived from the same stock as the native North Americans, having originally migrated from Asia. In 1910 he established his Thule station at Cape York, Greenland, the base for seven expeditions, five led by Rasmussen himself. He explored (1921–24) some 29,000 mi (46,000 km) of arctic North America and was the first to traverse the Northwest PassageNorthwest Passage,
water routes through the Arctic Archipelago, N Canada, and along the northern coast of Alaska between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Even though the explorers of the 16th cent.
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 by dog sled when he crossed the ice of Viscount Melville Sound. Rasmussen also disproved the existence of Peary Channel and Independence Bay. In 1932 he went on his last expedition, from Thule to SE Greenland for ethnological and archaeological data. His translated works include Greenland by the Polar Sea (1921) and Across Arctic America (1927) in addition to several studies of the Eskimo.


See P. Freuchen, I Sailed with Rasmussen (1958).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Rasmussen, Knud Johan Victor


Born June 7, 1879, in Jakobshavn, Greenland; died Dec. 21, 1933, in Copenhagen. Danish ethnographer and explorer of Greenland and the American arctic.

Rasmussen participated in various research expeditions in Greenland beginning in 1902 and explored the northern part of the country. In 1910 he organized a station on the northwestern coast of Greenland at Thule, on Cape York, which became a base for his seven Thule expeditions between 1912 and 1933. In the period 1921–24 he completed a dog-sledge journey with his companions from Hudson Bay to the Bering Sea, a distance of 18,000 km. Rasmussen and his companions amassed considerable data on the ethnography, anthropology, folklore, and language of the Eskimo.


Under Nordenvindens svebe. Copenhagen, 1906.
Min Rejsedagbog; skildringer fra den første Thule-Ekspedition, 4th ed.
Copenhagen-Kristiania, 1935.
In Russian translation:
Velikii sannyi put’. Leningrad, 1935.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.