Press "Enter" to skip to content

Profile of the Day: Matthew Henson

On this day in 1866, Arctic explorer Matthew Henson was born. He is best remembered for being the first to reach the North Pole alongside explorer Robert E. Peary in 1909.

Profile of the Day: Matthew Henson

Image: Matthew Henson / Library of Congress

Henson was born on August 8, 1866 on a farm in Charles County, Maryland. His parents were sharecroppers and free people of color before the Civil War. An orphan by the age of 12, Henson joined a merchant ship as a cabin boy. During his six years aboard the ship, the captain took Henson under his wing and taught him how to read, write, and navigate.

Henson first met Peary while working at a clothing store in Washington D.C. After learning of his sea experience, Peary recruited him to join his surveying expedition to Nicaragua. It marked the beginning of their long working relationship that would span over 20 years and include 7 expeditions to the Arctic. On April 6, 1909, Henson became the first of their party to reach the North Pole.

Fun fact: Matthew Henson is related to actress Taraji P. Henson. He is her third great uncle!

Explore Matthew Henson’s family tree on Geni and share how you’re related!

View Matthew Henson’s Geni Profile


iframe{ border: 1px solid #999; }


Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *