American Treasures of the Library of Congress: Reason

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At the Pole

Polar Diary Cape Sparbo
Frederick A. Cook
Polar Diary Cape Sparbo
Page 2
May 25, 1907-June 13, 1909
Manuscript Division

Gift of Janet Cook Vetter, 1959 (110.3)

What became known as the "Polar Controversy" began on September 1, 1909, when Dr. Frederick A. Cook cabled from the Shetland Islands (north of the Scottish mainland) that he had reached the North Pole on April 21, 1908. His claim was countered four days later by U.S. Navy officer Robert E. Peary, who said that Cook was a fraud and claimed that he had reached the Pole first. This Polar notebook is one of several kept by Cook and contains a purported account of his expedition by dog sled. This typical page exemplifies how Cook's strange writing gaps, crossed-out words, changed dates, erasures, and altered instrument readings only fueled further accusations of inconsistencies, discrepancies, and finally deliberate deception.

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