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    Louis Arner Boyd

    Encyclopedia Arctica 15: Biographies

    001      |      Vol_XV-0143                                                                                                                  

    (Raye R. Platt)


            Louise Arner Boyd (1887- ), has organized and led numerous arctic

    expeditions which she has personally financed. She is an expert on arctic

    photography. Born in San Rafael, California, September 16, 1887, the daughter

    of John Franklin and Louise Cook (Arner) Boyd, Louise was educated in private

    schools in San Rafael and San Francisco.

            She organized, financed, and conducted seven expeditions to the Arctic

    between 1926 and 1941, in vessels which she chartered and equipped. She has

    been official photographer, as well as leader, on all her expeditions, her

    purpose being to build up as representative and complete a collection as pos–

    sible of her own photographs of land and sea ice, glacial marginal features,

    land forms, and vegetation in the areas covered by her expeditions. Miss Boyd

    has herself made large botanical collections on all her expeditions except two,

    on which she included a botanist on her staff. Her first two expeditions, those

    of 1926 and 1928, were without special scientific staffs; her expedition of 1931

    included a botanist, and subsequent expeditions included staffs of experts for

    carrying out a variety of investigations as well as topographical survey. She

    equipped the ship chartered for her expeditions of 1933, 1937, and 1938 with an

    echo-sounder, and on the 1938 expedition carried a portable echo-sounder for

    use in a motor dory in waters too shallow or too ice-filled for ship navigation.

    The 19 33 expedition was the first arctic expedition to do extensive sounding

    with self-recording gear, and this was also the first American expedition to

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    EA-Biography. Platt: Louise Arner Boyd

    engage in ground photogrammetry. Tide gauge recordings were taken at various

    stations on all three of these expeditions, and on the 1938 expedition observa–

    tions for the measurement of magnetic declination were made at a number of sta–

    tions. For the 1938 expedition, also, the ship was equipped with specially de–

    signed wireless apparatus with an expert in charge for experimental work in

    sending and receiving under arctic conditions.

            Miss Boyd's first expedition (in the Norwegian sealer Hobby ), in the summer

    of 1926, was to Franz Josef Land, with stopovers at various points, particularly

    Northbrook Island, for photography and botanical collecting. In the summer of

    1928 she abandoned her plans for her second expedition and joined in the search

    for Amundsen with her ship (again the Hobby ) and crew, traversing some 10,000

    miles in the Greenland Sea and into the pack ice north of Franz Josef Land to

    Latitude 81° 33′ N. Her expeditions of 1931, 1933, and 1937 were specifically

    to the fjord region of East Greenland, although a considerable amount of echo–

    sounding work was done in the Greenland Sea on the 1933 expedition and more on

    the 1937 expedition. On the 1938 expedition work in the East Greenland fjords

    was continued, but a major purpose of this expedition was extensive sounding

    work in the Greenland Sea. On these four expeditions all fjords and sounds in

    East Greenland to which ice conditions permitted entry by either ship or motor

    dory were examined from King Oscar Fjord to Cape Montpensier at the northeast

    corner of Ile de France, and the landing of the 1938 expedition on Ile de France

    at Latitude 77° 48′ N., where heavy polar ice stopped the ship, was, at the time,

    the farthest north landing ever made from a ship on the east coast of Greenland.

            For all the expeditions to East Greenland the Norwegian Sealer Veslekari

    was chartered. On the 1931 expedition, which was organized primarily as a photo–

    graphic reconnaissance, all the fjords and sounds in the King Oscar-Franz Josef

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    EA-Biography. Platt: Louise Arner Boyd

    fjord region were visited and several thousand photographs were taken; the

    inner end of Ice Fjord was reached by ship for the first time; the De Geer

    Glacier, entering the head of this fjord from the north, was discovered (the

    area between this glacier and Jaette Glacier was subsequently officially named

    Louise Boyd Land); and a previously unsuspected connecting valley between the

    heads of Kjerulf and Dickson fjords was discovered (Miss Boyd was able to sup–

    ply the material for a detailed topographic map of this connection, subsequently

    constructed by the American Geographical Society, by taking over 200 photographs

    of it from 50 selected stations).

            The expedition of 1933 (officially the Louise A. Boyd Expedition to East

    Greenland, 1933) was under the auspices of the American Geographical Society.

    Miss Boyd's staff on this expedition consisted of: O. M. Miller, American Geo–

    graphical Society, topographer; J Harlen Bretz, University of Chicago, physio–

    grapher; William B. Drew, Gray Herbarium, Harvard University, botanist; N. E.

    Odell, Cambridge, England, geologist; Walter A. Wood, American Geographical Soc–

    iety, assistant topographer. The expedition sailed from its outfitting base at

    Ålesund, Norway, June 28, and returned September 16, having spent a few days at

    Jan Mayen Island on the way out and covered the East Greenland fjord region from

    King Oscar Fjord to Hold With Hope. The primary objective of this expedition

    was the study of glacial marginal features; to supplement the investigations of

    the physiographer and geologist, as well as to try out new methods of field

    mapping, photogrammetrical surveys were made with a Wild phototheodolite of

    Gregory Valley (explored for the first time by this expedition), of the raised

    delta at Smedal (on Gauss Peninsula at the entrance to Franz Josef Fjord), of

    Blomster Bay (Ymer Island), of Louise Glacier (Louise Boyd Land), and of Arch

    and Moraineless Glaciers (Gregory Valley); the plotting was done at Zurich by

    Mr. Wood on a Wild autograph rented by Miss Boyd from the Photogrammetrical

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    EA-Biography. Platt: Louise Arner Boyd

    Institute of the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule. Echo-sounding profiles

    were made of a number of the fjords, and fairly continuous lines of sounding

    were made on the runs between Norway and Greenland. Tide gauge recordings were

    made on Jan Mayen Island and at stations in the Greenland fjords.

            The 1937 and 1938 expeditions (officially the Louise A. Boyd Arctic Expedi–

    tions of 1937 and 1938) were also under the auspices of the American Geographical

    Society and were planned as a unit. Miss Boyd's staff for the 1937 expedition

    consisted of: Richard Foster Flint, Yale University, geologist; Henry J. Oosting,

    Duke University, botanist; James M. LeRoy, hydrographer; Fred A. Buhler, topograph–

    er; A. Lincoln Washburn, assistant geologist. For the 1938 expedition the same

    hydrographer and topographer were retained; F. Eyolf Bronner was the geologist;

    a radio expert A. J. Hilferty, was added to the staff; and Miss Boyd did the

    botanical collecting herself.

            The 1937 expedition left Alesund June 4 and returned September 27, having

    completed a journey of 8,600 nautical miles. The work of this expedition in

    the Greenland fjords was a continuation of the glacial marginal studies of the

    1933 expedition, and the botanist was added to the staff with the special objective

    of examining plant communities associated with recessional features. The expedi–

    tion was delayed two weeks in getting through the coastal ice barrier and the

    program had, consequently, to be curtailed considerably. A three-day study was

    made of South Glacier, Jan Mayen Island; detailed glaciological studies were made

    of Agassiz Valley, Tyroler Valley, and the Narwhal Glacier area; and reconnaissance

    glaciological and geological examinations were made of a number of other areas

    and features. The expedition operated first in Tyroler Fjord and Valley and

    around Clavering Island and then, when ice conditions prevented continuing north–

    ward as originally planned, turned south to the Franz Josef-King Oscar fjord region.

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    EA-Biography. Platt: Louise Arner Boyd

    Plane-table surveys were made of South Glacier, on Jan Mayen Island, and of

    an area of glacier-fill remnants in Agassiz Valley. Camera and plane-table

    surveys were made of Tyroler Valley and of the lower section of an area ad–

    jacent to Narwhal Glacier, Miss Boyd doing all the camera work on both these

    surveys. In addition to sounding surveys of the head of Tyroler Fjord, of

    Kjerulf Fjord, and of a section of Narwhal Sound off the front of Narwhal

    Sound off the front of Narwhal Glacier (done to supplement the glaciological

    studies in these areas and with a hand-operated wire sounder because conditions

    did not permit the use of the ship's echo-sounder), echo-sounding work in the

    fjords and sounds was done whenever the ship was in motion. Difficult ice con–

    ditions were again experienced in getting away from the Greenland coast. Messrs.

    Flint, Washburn, and Oosting left the expedition at Longyear City, Spitsbergen,

    September 3, and the rest of the expedition continued on up the Spitsbergen

    coast, carrying on the sounding work to the edge of the pack ice. An important

    achievement on this expedition was the discovery and mapping, by means of the

    echo-sounder, of a hitherto uncharted bank (now called Louise A. Boyd Bank),

    between Jan Mayen and Bear islands, that is evidently a part of what has been

    known as Mohn's Transverse Ridge since the Norwegian North Atlantic Expedition

    of 1876-1878 located other sections of it.

            The 1938 expedition sailed from Ålesund June 8 and returned September 12.

    A four-day program of echo-sounding (undertaken for the express purpose of im–

    proving and filling in blank spaces on the existing charts) and current measure–

    ment work was carried out around Jan Mayen Island, and tide gauge recording was

    done for a twelve-day period at Walrus Bay. From Jan Mayen the expedition pro–

    ceeded to Louise A. Boyd Bank for current measurement and further sounding work,

    and the, it being the plan to cross to Greenland as far north as possible, went

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    EA-Biography. Platt: Louise Arner Boyd

    on up the Spitsbergen coast and into the pack ice as far as Latitude 81° 30′ N.,

    Longitude 22° 30′ W. Fog preventing the fixing of soundings with any accuracy,

    the expedition turned back from this point and, having carried its sounding

    work along the north coast of Spitsbergen to the infrequently visited Seven

    Islands, went ashore on Parry Island and, finally, after a brief stop at Amster–

    dam Island, sailed for Greenland on July 21.

            The expedition landed on Bass Rock, off Little Pendulum Is land, July 25,

    and then went south to Gael Hamke Bay, Godthaab Gulf, and Copeland Fjord, carry–

    ing on sounding and photographic work and geological reconnaissance. On July 21

    the expedition left Gael Hamke Bay to carry a line of soundings as far north as

    possible along the East Greenland coast and on August 4, was stopped by heavy

    polar ice near Cape Montpensier at the north end of Ile de France, where the

    party went ashore for a few hours. The expedition then turned south again. Prac–

    tically all parts of Dove Bay were examined, photographed, and sounded, a motor

    dory in which the portable echo-sounder had been mounted being used for sounding

    work in Mørke Fjord, Puster Cove, and off the front of Soraner Glacier where the

    water was too shallow for the ship. Landings were made on Great Koldewey from

    Dagmar Harbor at the northwest end, where, on the heights above the harbor, [ ?]

    [ ?] a previously unreported lake was discovered; and at various other points,

    particularly at Track Pass, which was examined and photographed from both the east

    and west ends. Several days were spent in the Orientering Islands, a geological

    map of one of them was made, and Miss Boyd's photographic coverage of the group

    was so complete that a topographical map of it was produced from her photographs

    after the return of the expedition. Bessel Fjord, Ardencaple Fjord (including

    Brede and Smalle fjords at it s head), and Grandjean Fjord were all examined and

    photographed before the expedition finally left the Greenland coast by way of

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    EA-Biography. Platt: Louise Arner Boyd

    Cape Philip Broke, on August 27.

            A report by Miss Boyd on her expedition of 1931 was published in the Geo–

    graphical Review
    (Vol. 22, 1932, pp. 529-561), and two volumes of reports by

    her and the members of her scientific staffs and others have been published

    by the American Geographical Society — one on the 1933 expedition and the other

    on the expeditions of 1937 and 1938, both illustrated with a large section of

    her photographs and both accompanied by slip cases containing the maps and charts

    and echo-sounding profiles produced from her topographical and hydrographical


            In 1941 Miss Boyd chartered Captain Robert A. Bartlett's schooner Effie M.

    and spent the period from May to November as a temporary member of the

    staff of the U. S. Bureau of Standards in charge of a program of radio and iono–

    sphere research and magnetic observation for the Bureau that involved work on

    both sides of Davis Strait and Baffin Ba y as far north as Ellesmore Island and

    in Hudson Strait.

            During World War II Miss Boyd not only turned over to the War Department her

    photographic l ib rary and her collection of hundreds of maps and miscellaneous

    publications dealing with the northern countries of Europe as well as the Arctic,

    but served in Washington from March 1942 to July 1943 as special consultant to

    the Military Intelligence Division.

            For her participation in the search for Amundsen, Miss Boyd was awarded the

    Order of St. Olaf by the Norwegian government, being the first foreign woman to

    receive that honor, and was made a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor. She

    was awarded the Cullum Geographical Medal of the American Geographical Society in

    1938, and in 1939 both the University of California and Mills College conferred

    on her the honorary LL.D. degree. She has also been awarded the Andr e é e Plaque of

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    EA-Biography. Platt: Louise Arner Boyd

    the Swedish Anthropological and Geographical Society and is a governor of the

    American Polar Society.

            Miss Boyd's contributions to knowledge of the Arctic, in addition to the

    great collection of her own photographs which she has accumulated, and her ven–

    turesome use and experimentation with ultramodern equipment and techniques, in–

    cluding adaptation and personal use of the camera for mapping purposes, are the

    published reports on geological, glaciological, physiological, ecological, and

    hydrographical investigations and the topographical and hydrographical surveys

    carried out by the competent experts whom she selected for her field staffs and

    for whom she furnished the best of modern equipment.

            Publications :

            "Fiords of East Greenland," Geographical Review , Vol. 22, 1932, pp. 529-561.

            "The Fiord Region of East Greenland, "by Louise A. Boyd, with contributions

    by J Harlen Bretz, O. M. Miller, Walter A. Wood, William B. Drew, Charles B. Hitch–

    cock, and John K. Wright, American Geographical Society Special Publication No. 18 ,


            "The Coast of Northeast Greenland with Hydrographic Studies in the Greenland

    Sea," by Louise A. Boyd, with contributions by Richard Foster Flint, James M. LeRoy,

    Henry F. Oosting, Fred A. Buhler, F. Eyolf Bronner, A. J. Hilferty, Alice Eastwood,

    and the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, American Geographical Society

    Special Publication No. 30
    , 1948.

            "Polish Countrysides, Photographs and Narrative by Louise A. Boyd," with a

    contribution by Stanislaw Gorzuchowski, American Geographical Society Special Publica

    tion No. 20
    , 1937.


    Raye R. Platt

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