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The First IPY 1882-83 and the United States’ Lady Franklin Bay Expedition (Greely Expedition)

The exhibit will open on Thursday, March 1, 2007, at the University of Central Florida’s Main Library.  The new documentary film Abandoned in the Arctic will be introduced by Executive Producer Geoffrey E. Clark, MD, and screened from 4-5:30 p.m. in Room 223.  Exhibit viewing and a reception from 5:30-6 p.m. to follow, during which time refreshments and hors d’oeuvres will be served.  Please note that the film will also be shown intermittently in Room 223 during the exhibit’s three-month engagement.

The exhibit offers a overview of the first International Polar Year, including a map of the principal IPY stations manned by several nations.  This is followed by a recounting of the United States’ first participation in an international scientific effort — the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition 1881-84 (popularly known as the Greely Expedition, after its commander, First Lieut. Adolphus W. Greely, US Army).

There will also be a presentation of the life and times of a key expedition participant: David L. Brainard.  With service during the Indian Wars on his record, Brainard volunteered for the expedition in 1881 and was appointed First Sergeant and Chief of Enlisted Men, later becoming Supply Sergeant and Second-in-Command.  During the critical last months of the expedition, his fortitude and industry in handling food supplies helped the survivors hold out until rescued.  In recognition of his meritorious Arctic service, Brainard was commissioned a Second Lieutenant of cavalry in 1886.  He went on to retire as a Brigadier General in 1919, and when he died in 1946, he was the last survivor of the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition. 

In addition to word and picture recounting the expedition, the exhibit features many artifacts related to Brainard’s Arctic and military service.  Among the items to be displayed are:  an Inuit bone knife brought back from the Arctic; Explorer’s Medal awarded for achieving a “farthest north” record; Purple Heart awarded for wounds received during an engagement with the Sioux in 1877; military campaign medals and foreign orders; original photographs and letters; and two published transcriptions of his journals (The Outpost of the Lost (1929) and Six Came Back (1940).

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The exhibit is curated by Glenn M. Stein, FRGS

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