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Profile of the Day: Fridtjof Nansen

On this day in 1861, Norwegian explorer, scientist, and humanitarian Fridtjof Nansen was born. In 1922, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work helping displaced refugees after World War I.

Profile of the Day: Fridtjof Nansen

Image: Fridtjof Nansen / National Library of Norway

Nansen was born on October 10, 1861 in Oslo, Norway to Baldur Fridtjof Nansen and Adelaide Johanne Thekla Isidore Bølling Wedel-Jarlsberg. His mother was the niece of Norwegian statesman Herman Wedel Jarlsberg, who had an active role in framing the Norwegian constitution at Eidsvoll in 1814.

In 1888, Nansen became the first person to successfully lead a team across the interior of Greenland. He later gained fame for his attempt to be the first to reach the North Pole. Although he did not reach his goal, Nansen had gone further than any other explorer at the time.

In the later years of his life, Nansen devoted his time to humanitarian work. In the aftermath of World War I, he worked with the League of Nations to help free hundreds of thousands of prisoners of war.  He was later appointed the High Commissioner for Refugees and worked to provide assistance to thousands of displaced refugees. He created what would become known as the “Nansen passport,” a form of identity for stateless persons that allowed them to legally travel across borders and resettle.

Nansen died on May 13, 1930 at the age of 68.

Explore Fridtjof Nansen’s family tree on Geni and share how you’re connected!

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