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Vilhjalmur Stefansson

Stefansson, Vilhjalmur (vĭlˈhyoulmər stĕfˈənsən) [key], 1879–1962, Arctic explorer, b. Canada, of Icelandic parents, educated at the Univ. of North Dakota, the State Univ. of Iowa, and Harvard. He led several expeditions of exploration and of ethnological and archaeological investigation in the Arctic. For supplies he relied heavily on local resources, and he adopted the Eskimo way of living, thus successfully demonstrating his theory that the rigors of existence in the Arctic are much reduced by the use of such techniques. He made two expeditions (1906–7, 1908–12) to the delta of the Mackenzie River. Later he undertook (1913–18) the most prolonged polar exploration in history by remaining N of the Arctic Circle for an unbroken period of more than five years while exploring the Canadian and Alaskan sectors of the Arctic. In 1952, Stefansson Island, at the tip of Victoria Island, was named for him. He was the curator of the Stefansson Collection at Dartmouth College, to which he gave his library of polar material. His many books include My Life with the Eskimo (1913), The Friendly Arctic (1915, new enl. ed. 1943), Iceland (1939), Greenland (1942), and Northwest to Fortune (1958). He edited Great Adventures and Explorations (1947).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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