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Profile of the Day: Robert Edwin Peary

On this day in 1909, explorer Robert Edwin Peary and his assistant, Matthew Henson, reached what they determined to be the North Pole.

Image: Robert Edwin Peary / Library of Congress

Peary was born on May 6, 1856 in Cresson, Pennsylvania to Charles Nutter Peary and Mary Dole Wiley. He joined the U.S. Navy Civil Engineers Corps before beginning his career as an explorer. Determined to become the first person to reach the North Pole, Peary studied the survival techniques of the Inuits and adopted their practices during his expeditions. After several attempts, Peary finally reached what his team determined to be the North Pole on April 6, 1909.

Unfortunately, upon returning from his journey, Peary discovered that Dr. Frederick A. Cook had claimed to have reached the North Pole in 1908. Although Cook’s claim was eventually discredited, Peary’s reputation suffered from the bad press. In 1911, Peary was officially recognized by Congress to have “attained” the North Pole.

Despite his official recognition, some critics and historians have questioned if Peary truly reached the North Pole. Some even speculate that he may have actually been 30-60 miles short of the Pole.

How are you related to Robert Edwin Peary? Explore his family tree and discover your connection to the famous explorer.

View Robert Edwin Peary’s Geni Profile

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