Vilhjalmur Stefansson was an Arctic explorer, promoter, and teacher who made expeditions above
the Arctic Circle between 1906 and 1918. Documentation from these explorations including diaries,
notes, scientific experiments, letters, and photographs.
The Stefansson collection of photographs consists of over 1,200 black and white images primarily from the
Canadian Arctic Expedition (1913-1918). Images dating between 1913 and 1916 were taken by Canadian Arctic Expedition
photographer Sir George Hubert Wilkins.
700 Lantern Slides
Stefansson also lectured internationally on the subject of Arctic exploration and culture,
using this collection of over 700 lantern slides to illustrate his lectures. Included are images of
flora and fauna, landscapes, ice formations, boats, indigenous housing,
clothing, hunting and
fishing practices, as well as many individuals. In addition, there are some slides from Stefansson's 1923 trip to Australia and French
Polynesia, and images of Stefansson teaching in Dartmouth College's Northern Studies Program.
Arctic Images: Portraying a "Friendly Arctic"
By Josh Hilliard
Vilhjalmur Stefansson’s "Arctic Images" were an integral part of his lecture tour carefully chosen to project an image of the
"Friendly Arctic." Beginning in the 1920s and continuing into the 1950s, Stefansson’s popular lecture series rejected the
Arctic he called "preeminently the land of imagination," that of a wasteland of snow and ice that dominated the
discourse of the North. Stefansson sought to replace that harsh mythic North with his concept of a hospitable land
of abundant resources. To eliminate these myths, Stefansson showed audiences glass lanternslides of scenes they may
not initially have expected: green pastures, abundant flora and fauna, and everyday scenes from the life of the native
people. Stefansson’s words and images advanced the idea of the friendly North that was new to his audiences and contrary
to the popular image of the time.
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