April conference will hear scholars from Norway, Russia and Nunuvat
Explorers, researchers and historians from Russia, Norway and Nunuvat will participate in an international symposium that will discuss the attainment of the geographical North Pole on April 21, 1908 by Dr. Frederick A. Cook. The forum will be held at the Yale Club, located at 50 Vanderbilt at 44th St. in New York City, just opposite from Grand Central Station.
Participants will discuss the actual Polar journeys of Cook and his rival, Robert E. Peary in 1908-09, the climate which resulted in public fascination toward the “race to the Pole” in both Europe and North America and the subsequent campaign of vilification and calumny launched against Cook.
The controversy involving the claims of Cook and Peary have occupied the literature of the Polar regions and the public press for almost a century, as both claimants returned to Europe and then the United States in September of 1909.
While the dispute has not diminished, the addition of significant names in the discussion has provided new understanding to the issues.
In 2005 Canada’s leading archeologist of the Far North, Dr. Robert McGhee made a definitive contribution in his book, The Last Imaginary Place: a Human History of the Arctic World. The winner of the Massey Medal of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, Canada’s highest award for excellence in the geographic sciences. Dr. McGhee wrote of Cook:
“Frederick Cook remains as one of the most perceptive as well as the most vilified of Polar explorers . . . Cook had made a discovery that no amount of humiliation could take from him, and one that only the most fortunate and observant Arctic explorers ever learned.”
The symposium will begin with registration and introductions on April 5th.
The full schedule follows:
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Yale Club, registration in foyer and continental breakfast, 8-9 am
Yale Club, Grand Ballroom. Opening and welcome, 9 am
Warren B. Cook Sr. president Frederick A. Cook Society
Jeff Stoleer, Communications Director of the Explorers Club
Bette Hutchinson, granddaughter of Dr. Cook
Barbara Hillary, honored guest
Ralph Myerson, MD and
Pam Huntington, commentators
“Pioneering Polar Medicine and Beyond: Frederick Cook as
Susan Barr, Cultural Heritage, Oslo, Norway
“Looking to the Poles:
Amundsen and Cook, 1808-1911"
11:00 to 11:20 am
Break and video excerpt, “Race to the Poles”
11:20 to 12:15 am
Ted Heckathorn, polar and alpine explorer
“The core of the controversy:
Cook on Denali and at the North Pole”
12:15 - 1:30 pm
Luncheon in the Ball Room
1:30 - 1:45 pm
Q&A Panel on morning session: Dr.
Myerson, Ms. Huntington, Ms. Barr and Mr. Heckathorn
Kenn Harper, author and historian
“Liars and Gentlemen: The
Cook-Peary controversy and a commentary, 2008"
Shparo, explorer and author, Moscow
“Following Cook and Peary to the Pole:
A Russian reassessment”
Break and video excerpt, “Noose of Laurels”
Q&A Panel on Afternoon Session
Mr. Harper and Dr. Shparo
Sunday, April 6, 2008
9:00 am Continental breakfast
9:30 am - 10:00 am
Gibbons, editor and writer
“Gold Brick Redux: Fighting for Hearts and Minds,
1909 and 2008"
Malvey Shparo, “The Russian Centennial Expedition to
the North Pole, 2007-2008” Malvey will describe the
first Polar night expedition to the Pole, which is
dedicated to the Centennial of Dr. Cook’s discovery.
Shparo, “Following Cook to the top of North
America.” Dr. Shparo will utilize overhead projection of
photographs of his expedition “as affirmative evidence
that Dr. Cook conquered Mount McKinley.”
Conclusion of conference
is director of Cultural Heritage in Oslo, Norway and has delivered
papers on Amundsen and Cook at the Scott Polar Research Institute and the Byrd
Polar Research Center.
Sheldon S R Cook is an attorney and historian in Atlanta, GA and has researched
the Cook-Peary controversy for almost four decades. He has published in Fram
and Polar Priorities.
Warren B Cook
Sr. is the grandnephew of Dr. Cook and has been president of the
Frederick A Cook Society for several years. He belongs to the Explorers Club, the
American Polar Society and the Elizha Kent Kane Society.
Gibbons completed his degree thesis on Cook and Peary and has
contributed the biographical profiles on Cook to the
Dictionary of American
Biography and the Arctic Institute and also to the
Encyclopedia of the Arctic.
lives and works in Iqaluit in Nunuvat, the new Inuit territory within
Arctic Canada and is an author and contributor to several journals, including the
Encyclopedia of the Arctic.
Ted Heckathorn has combined field expeditions in the Arctic and Alaska in his
work on Cook, following his routes to the Pole and the top of McKinley and is a
contributor to the Encyclopedia of the Arctic and Polar Priorities.
Patricia Huntington is an independent researcher in New York City and has
published on Peary in Polar Geography and Cook in Polar Priorities. She is cochair
of the 2008 North Pole Centennial commemoration.
Bette Hutchinson is a granddaughter of Frederick A. Cook and has contributed
artifacts and photos to the Byrd Polar Research Center, the Library of Congress
Special Collections and the American Alpine Club.
Ralph Myerson is former head of clinical medicine at Drexel University and has
published for some 20 years on Polar physicians and chaired the 1999 Conference
on Polar and Alpine Medicine.
Dmitry Shparo has led expeditions to the North Pole and in 2006 followed Cook’s
1906 route to the top of McKinley. He has been involved in a scholarly reassessment
of Cook in Russian literature and proceedings.
Malvey Shparo is an officer of the Adventurers Club of Moscow and has made
several expeditions to the North Polar regions, his 2007-2008 over ice trip to the
Pole being the first in the Polar Night.