Object Record

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Collection Herbert Frisby Collection
Object Name Print
Other Name Print of Matthew Henson
Catalog Number 1979.1.1913
Accession Number 1979.1
Description On semi-glossy paper, a black and white hand-drawn artistic representation of Matthew Henson with smaller surrounding images that represent his life as an explorer. The portrait is at the bottom center of the paper and portrays Henson in a fur parka with hood up. In an oval shape with a bottom box with "MATTHEW HENSON | EXPLORER" in it. To left, a drawing of a man in a fur parka with hood up, fur pants, and knee-high boots standing in front of an igloo. Has a scroll below with "COMPANION" on it. At top, an image of a large ship in water with a mountain behind. Below, scroll with "THE ROOSEVELT". To right, a drawing of a dogsled team in snow pulling a packed sled. Below, scroll with "HARDSHIPS".

Attached to a piece of cardstock along top edge. Cardstock underneath has light blue border. Has a white and dark blue inner border. At bottom edge, in dark blue text, "(See Biography under picture)". Top edge has dark blue decorative lines. Hole in top center, possibly for hanging. Center of cardstock is an off-white rectangle with blue text. Top line is bold and reads "MATTHEW ALEXANDER HENSON | Co-Discoverer of North Pole".

Below, in blue, "Biographical Sketch by | HERBERT M. FRISBY | Head, Science Department, Frederick Douglass High School | Baltimore, Maryland".

Short essay below. Reads, "Matthew (Matt) Alexander Henson was born August 8, 1866 on a farm, the site of a former Negro slave market, in Nanjemoy, Charles County, Maryland. Henson, the man destined to become the first person to locate and stand on the Top of the World, was born in virtual obscurity. Little is known of his earliest boyhood. Around the age of six, he left Nanjemoy and went to live in Washington, D.C. There he divided his time between working in a restaurant operated by a Janey Moore and attending, more or less irregularly, the N Street elementary school. | Henson left Washington at the age of thirteen and located in Baltimore, Maryland, around its water front. Later, as one without a home, he shipped as a cabin boy on a schooner under the command of a Captain Childs who taught him the rudiments of seamanship and simple mathematics. | Returning to Washington, he was offered and accepted an invitation to accompany Lt. Robert E. Peary, U.S.N. on a canal surveying expedition to Nicaragua. | Peary later became interested in expeditions to the polar regions, the principal objective being to discover the North Pole which was then the intensive quest of many nations. Henson agreed to accompany him. After several unsuccessful expeditions, the Peary Party, including Henson each time, finally came within striking distance of its goal. | Overcome with exhaustion and crippled by the loss of several toes by frostbite, Henson was sent forward to make final observation, calculations, and await Peary's arrival. Peary's check confirmed the discovery of the North Pole. | 90* N. Lat., NORTH POLE | April 6, 1909 | "Arrived her today, 27 marches from Cape Columbia. | "I have with me 5 men, Matthew Henson, colored, Ootah, Eginway, Seegloo and Ookeah, Eskimos; 5 sledges and 38 dogs | " The expedition under my command has succeeded in reaching the POLE . . . for the honor and prestige of the United State of America." | (From Log Book of Admiral Peary, | Discoverer of the North Pole." | Aside from Peary, the leader of the expeditions, Henson has been given most credit for the success of the last one. This is because of his courage and daring, ability to stand the fiercest stress of frigid climate and exposure, mastery of the Eskimo language and the Eskimos' admiration of him, his skill in sled building, driving, and igloo building. These credits were accorded Mr. Henson by all of the surviving members of the exploratory party. | In recognition of his contributions, Mr. Henson has received Master of Science degrees from Howard University and Morgan State College, a Congressional Medal, Membership in the Explorers' Club, a medal from the Chicago Geographical Society, a citation by the U.S. Department of Defense (1949) and numerous medals, plaques and citations from scientific and civic organizations. | On August 12, 1956, a memorial tribute to him was dropped over the North Pole from a U.S. Air Force plane by Afro-American Arctic correspondent, the author of this biographical sketch. | Matthew A. Henson died March 9, 1955 in New York City, having achieved the unique distinction of Co-discoverer of the North Pole with Admiral Peary and the first person to stand on the Top of the World. He is survived by Mrs. Lucy J. Henson, his widow."

Additions and corrections were added in blue ink or marker later. At top, the word "Former" was added to Herbert Frisby's position at Frederick Douglass High School to read, "Former Head, Science Department..." In excerpt from Peary's log, the letter "s" was written over the last letter in the name "Eginway". At in the second to last paragraph, the phrase "the author of this biographical sketch" has been crossed out with "Herbert M. Frisby" written to the side.
Artist C. Herring
People Henson, Matthew Alexander, 1866-1955
Subjects Arctic
Arctic Travel
Fur garments
Sledding, Dog