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Dr. Frederick Cook’s Diary, 1908

Frederick Cook noted his arrival at the North Pole in his diary entry for April 21, 1908. Though he lost many papers in Greenland on his return from the Arctic, Cook submitted his surviving evidence to a commission at the University of Copenhagen for verification. The commission found the documentation insufficient and ruled that Cook’s claim was “not proven.”

Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

Dr. Frederick Cook’s Diary, 1908 Dr. Frederick Cook’s Diary, 1908

The Discoverer of the North Pole

In the early twentieth century, explorers from many countries vied to reach the North Pole first. In 1909 two Americans, Dr. Frederick Cook and Commander Robert Peary, each claimed to have made the “discovery.” Though neither explorer could provide indisputable proof of reaching the geographic pole, Peary’s claim was more credible. In 1911, after holding hearings on Peary’s expedition, Congress honored Peary’s achievement and promoted him to rear admiral in the United States Navy. Today it is widely held that neither man actually reached the North Pole.

Your committee believe. . . . that Robert Edwin Peary has performed a most remarkable and wonderful service, . . . that therefore the American people, through its Congress, shall render him thanks, and bestow upon him the highest rank of the service which he adorns.

House Committee on Naval Affairs, Recognition of Robert Peary, January 21, 1911