Wrangel Island is a gateway to the northern portion of the Arctic Sea above the Bering Strait. This 2,900-square-mile expanse has been claimed at various times by Canada and Russia. Manuscript materials in the Dartmouth Library’s Vilhjalmur Stefansson Collection on Polar Exploration document Wrangel Island from 1900-1930. This digital project “collates” these materials in order to reveal the nuanced history of this contested space.
Wrangel never supported an Indigeneous human population, but it was a refuge for polar explorers awaiting rescue. Others attempting to settle the Island died, undone by their naiveté and Anglo-American hubris. The correspondence, manuscript drafts, photographs, contracts, and diaries from the Stefansson Collection related to Wrangel’s history provide a rich backstory to elucidate current political, social, economic, and environmental factors that shape our understanding of the Arctic regions.
Drawing on five distinct collections, The Papers of Vilhjalmur Stefansson, The Papers of Ada Blackjack, the Papers of Harold Noice, the Vilhjalmur Stefansson Collection of Arctic Photographs, and the Encyclopedia Arctica, this digital project brings together many disparate facets of the history of Wrangel Island. In it you will find thousands of items in a variety of media from a key period of the island’s history. Also included are sample lesson plans for using the materials with elementary, secondary, and college students, as well as two digital exhibits curated by students in Dartmouth Professor Ross Virginia’s Environmental Studies 15 course, “The Earth’s Cold Regions.”