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Profile of the Day: Ernest Shackleton

Do you have adventurers in your family tree? On this day in 1874, polar explorer Ernest Shackleton was born. Considered one of the principal figures of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, Shackleton’s expeditions to Antarctica pioneered routes into the continent’s interior.

Image: Ernest Shackleton / Library of Congress

Shackleton was born on February 15, 1874 in Kilkea, County Kildare, Ireland to Henry Shackleton and Henrietta Letitia Sophia Gavan. At 16, he joined the mercantile marine service and later became a sublieutenant in the Royal Naval Reserve.

In 1909, during his second expedition to the Antarctic, Shackleton and his team reached a new Farthest South latitude. Upon his return home, he was knighted by King Edward VII for his achievement.

During his third expedition to the Antarctic, his ship, the Endurance, became trapped in ice. Shackleton and his crew were forced to vacate the ship and camp on the floating ice. Eventually, they made their way to the uninhabited Elephant Island. Knowing they would not be spotted for rescue, Shackleton and a small group of men took a small boat into the open ocean towards South Georgia in search for help. After 16 days they reached land and trekked to a whaling station to immediately organize a rescue effort for the remaining men on Elephant Island.

In 1921, Shackleton began his final Antarctic expedition with the goal of circumnavigating the Antarctic. However, on January 5, 1922, Shackleton suffered a heart attack and died aboard his ship.

How are you related to Ernest Shackleton? Explore his family tree and share your connection to the Antarctic explorer.

View Ernest Shackleton’s Geni Profile

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