Wish You Were Here: Filming Icebergs on Bartlett’s Greenland Expedition, C. 1939

by Owen James Burke

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Above: A relatively scantily clad crewman on Bartlett’s Greenland Expedition films an iceberg aboard the Effie M. Morrissey in 1939. Photo via Sail Dream.

Why is it that in so many pre-WWII expedition photos the crewmen appear to be wearing so little–and looking quite comfortable, I must add–in the world’s harsh climes?


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Commander Robert Peary (left) with Captain Robert Bartlett. Battle Harbour, Labrador, 1909. Photo: Library of Congress.

Captain Robert Bartlett skippered in and out of the Arctic leading over 40 expeditions throughout his 50 year career, a lifetime achievement record that stands to date. He received various awards including the National Geographic Society’s Hubbard Medal in 1909 after accompanying Commander Robert Peary on his attempt to reach the North Pole. That particular expedition came within 150 miles, which by some records is the closest man has ever sailed to the top of our great globe.

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Above: Capt. Bartlett aboard the USCG Cutter Bear after a 37-day 700-mile trek in 1913/1914. Photo: The Smithsonian.

Bartlett passed away of pneumonia in a New York hospital in 1946 at the age of 70, a remarkably long life for an adventurer and explorer of his magnitude.

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