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Did Byrd Fly over the North Pole in 1926? - Primary Sources


Public Correspondence: New York Times: 1926 

This document is a telegram that Bird, a reporter for New York Times, submitted to the paper, describing Josephine's flight plan. Who is Josephine, and what does this document tell you about the mission?

New York Times Funding Memo  

This letter describes a $39,000 advance that Richard Byrd received from the New York Times for selling his personal narrative. Considering the time period, what does the amount tell you about the mission? How much is this in modern day dollars?

Letter from National Geographic Society

This document is a letter from an administrator in the National Geographic Society. It discusses the potential obligations Byrd's benefactors may require. What concerns does this letter point out to Byrd? Are these problems realistic?

Rockefeller Donation  

This document details a donation given by John D. Rockefeller. What does this letter tell you?

Rockefeller Telegram  

This document is a telegram from John D. Rockefeller to Byrd.

Letter from Byrd to Rockefeller

This document is a letter written by Byrd to John D. Rockefeller. What does this document tell you about their relationship and Rockefeller's role in the expedition?

North Pole Report to the National Geographic Society

This document was written by several scientists to the National Geographic Society. Who are these individuals and what are they saying here? What is the purpose of this document?

Byrd's Description of North Pole Flight

This document is a detailed description of Byrd's North Pole flight. What sorts of evidence does he offer to back his claims? How credible is this account?

Expedition Contract

This document is a letter from a company called Current News Features that discusses a contract offer. What were the terms of the agreement? Does this offer come before or after the North Pole expedition, and how might this impact the controversy?

Letter from George Palmer Putnam, Inc. to Byrd  

This document describes the royalties that Richard Byrd received for selling “preparation pictures” before the flight. What does this letter indicate about the expectations of the expedition?

Letter Describing Relationship with George Palmer Putnam, Inc. 

This letter describes the role of George Palmer Putnam, Inc. during the aftermath of the expedition. What was the corporation's role? Does this tell you anything about the expedition as it relates to American culture?

Expedition Flight Times  

This document is a letter verifying the time that Richard Byrd’s flight took off for the North Pole. How should this evidence be judged?

Controversy Arises

This document is a description of Captain Finn Ronne’s conversation with the Director of the National Geographic Society in which Dr. Isaiah Bowman told him that Byrd admitted that he did not reach the North Pole. What key pieces of evidence stand out? Does this tell you anything about Byrd's character?

Byrd's Expedition Diary 

This document is an entry from Byrd's diary during the mission. Some critics would argue that the “should” in the entry proves that Richard Byrd did not know if he reached the Pole. What is your impression?

Byrd's Return to Camp 

This document describes Byrd's return to his Arctic base camp after a 'successful' flight over the North Pole. Does this document offer conclusive evidence that Byrd flew over the North Pole? Why or why not?

Notes on a Controversy

This document is a description by Author Lisle A. Rose that offers a compelling argument for Byrd's honesty about reaching the North Pole. Is this argument valid? Why or why not?

Chart of Byrd's North Pole Flight 

This chart shows the route of Byrd's flight over the North Pole in 1926. What are the most important aspects of this document and how do they impact your conclusions?

2001 Newspaper Article on Byrd Controversy

This document is a 2001 newspaper article that outlines the debate over Byrd's 1926 North Pole flight. What new evidence does the article offer? How does this impact your conclusions?

Byrd Diary 2 

This document is another entry from Byrd's diary. Some critics use this document as evidence that Richard Byrd was plotting to be gone long enough to make it look like he went to the Pole. Can you tell what was erased from the entry? How does this reshape your interpretation of the controversy?