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The Polar Controversy between Frederick Cook and Robert Peary (June 2021): Digital Resources

by Robert M. Bryce

Digital Resources

Reliable digital resources related to the polar controversy are not extensive, though a few exist. This author’s website, Dr. Frederick A. Cook: From Hero to Humbug (http://www.humbug.polarhist.com), outlines Cook’s entire career and contains much information of use to scholars of the dispute, including a list of the locations where primary sources can be found. The site also lists all of Cook’s published writings, discusses non-print media related to him, and contains an up-to-date blog that discusses original documents not available elsewhere.

Dennis Rawlins’s website DIO: The International Journal of Scientific History (http://dioi.org) contains many articles relevant to the Polar Controversy as well as a PDF of Henshaw Ward’s unpublished manuscript of “The Peary Myth” (http://www.dioi.org/ph.pdf).

Though inactive since 2009, when the society went bankrupt after dissipating the bequest of Janet Cook Vetter, the website of The Frederick A. Cook Society (http://www.frederickcooksociety.org) presents an illustrative example of a partisan site that expresses bias for one explorer over the other. As a consequence, material published on this site was not always subjected to scholarly rigor.

Beyond indisputable facts, Wikipedia is of little use on topics related to the rival explorers because its content is constantly being rewritten by partisans of one or the other.
Finally, though not focused on the arctic or the polar controversy, both the Hathi Trust Digital Library (https://www.hathitrust.org), which requires membership, and the freely accessible Project Gutenberg (https://www.gutenberg.org) are useful means of gaining access to digital copies of some the older publications mentioned in this essay.