Stefansson, Vilhjalmur

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Stefansson, Vilhjalmur

(vĭl`hyoulmər stĕf`ənsən), 1879–1962, Arctic explorer, b. Canada, of Icelandic parents, educated at the Univ. of North Dakota, the State Univ. of Iowa, and Harvard. He led several expeditions of exploration and of ethnological and archaeological investigation in the Arctic. For supplies he relied heavily on local resources, and he adopted the Eskimo way of living, thus successfully demonstrating his theory that the rigors of existence in the Arctic are much reduced by the use of such techniques. He made two expeditions (1906–7, 1908–12) to the delta of the Mackenzie River. Later he undertook (1913–18) the most prolonged polar exploration in history by remaining N of the Arctic Circle for an unbroken period of more than five years while exploring the Canadian and Alaskan sectors of the Arctic. In 1952, Stefansson Island, at the tip of Victoria Island, was named for him. He was the curator of the Stefansson Collection at Dartmouth College, to which he gave his library of polar material. His many books include My Life with the Eskimo (1913), The Friendly Arctic (1915, new enl. ed. 1943), Iceland (1939), Greenland (1942), and Northwest to Fortune (1958). He edited Great Adventures and Explorations (1947).

Stefansson, Vilhjalmur

 

Born Nov. 3, 1879, in Gimli, Manitoba; died Aug. 26,1962, in Hanover, N.H. Canadian arctic explorer and ethnographer. Of Icelandic extraction.

From 1906 to 1912, Stefansson carried on biological and ethnographical research along the northwestern coast of North America, from Point Barrow to Coronation Gulf. From 1913 to 1918, while leading a Canadian arctic expedition, he investigated Banks Island and Prince Patrick Island. In 1915 he discovered Borden Island, actually a group of three islands situated northeast of Prince Patrick Island, and in 1916 he discovered Meighen Island (80° N lat.) and Lougheed Island (77° N tat.). An island off the northeastern coast of Victoria Island has been named for Stefansson.

WORKS

My Life With the Eskimo. New York, 1913.
Greenland. New York, 1943.
Arctic Manual. Washington, D. C, 1944.
Discovery: The Autobiography of Vilhjalmur Stefansson. New York, 1964.
In Russian translation:
Gostepriimnaia Arktika. Leningrad, 1935;2nded., Leningrad, 1948.

REFERENCES

Ol’khina, E. A. Vil’ialmur Stefanson. Moscow, 1970.
“Vilhjalmur Stefansson.” Polar Record, 1963, vol. 11, no. 73.

Stefansson, Vilhjalmur

(1879–1962) explorer; born in Arnes, Manitoba, Canada. Of Icelandic descent, he grew up in Dakota Territory. He studied theology and anthropology at Harvard (1903–06). He went to Iceland (1904–05) and then to the Arctic three times (1906–07, 1908–12, 1913–18). He reported having found some "blond Eskimos" (1912). After 1920 he wrote and lectured extensively, stressing that the Arctic was not barren and that commercial airplanes could travel over the North Pole. He served as a consultant on Arctic issues to the Allies during World War II.