Who Won the Race to the North Pole: Cook or Peary? - Primary Sources

Due to file size limits, we aren't able to provide a zipped folder with all of the files below. However, we have provided 1 download set which contains several smaller files.

Cook on the Press

This document is a letter written by Cook in 1910 that reveals his impressions of how the media has covered his expedition. What is the tone of the letter? Does it reveal anything about the press coverage of Cook's mission?

Telegram: R.C. Mitchell to Cook

This item is a telegram received by Cook. What clues does this provide about the North Pole controversy?

Frederick Howard Mines to Cook

This document is a letter written to Cook in 1909 by a gentleman in North Carolina. Who was this gentleman and what is this letter implying?

Letter Describing Transaction

This letter describes a transaction that occurs during the controversy. Who is the letter written to? What are the various factors that influenced how this controversy played out?

Letter Supporting Cook

This document advocates that Cook was the first to arrive at the North Pole. What evidence is presented and do you find it convincing? Why or why not?

The Discovery of the North Pole, by Admiral Peary

This document is Peary's version of his discovery of the North Pole. What proof does Peary provide to back his claim? Does this convince you?

1909 Letter to Cook from a Friend

This document is a letter from a friend to Cook in 1909. It addresses several aspects of the controversy. Why is it so important for Cook to prove he reached the summit of Mt. McKinley?

News Media's Role in the Controversy

This document summarizes the role of two newspapers in the controversy. What was their level of involvement? How do the newspapers' interests impact your interpretation of the controversy?

Cook's Attainment of the Pole

The first document in this collection is a photograph from Cook's Arctic expedition. The second document is a diagram that shows the Cook's meteorological calculations. A Canadian meteorologist found these observations credible in 2000. How does this challenge your conclusions about Cook's expedition?


Download Set  I:

(The zip folder above contains the following files.)

1933 Letter to Cook 

This document is a letter written to Cook in 1933 that discusses his health and plans to write a text addressing the controversy. What does the timing of the letter tell you?

1912 Conspiracy Letter

This document is a letter addressing the North Pole controversy. Who is the author and who is the recipient? What is the significance of this letter and why is the term carbon copy so important?

1915 Conspiracy Letter

This document addresses the North Pole conspiracy in 1915. How does this compare to the 1912 letter? What does the tone of the letter tell you about the severity of the North Pole controversy?

Letter to Cook from Interested Party

This document is a letter to Cook from an Ohio man who is interested in joining his expedition to Mt. McKinley. What does this letter tell you about the public interpretation of the controversy?

D.E. Stubbs Report on McKinley Controversy

This document is a report written by D.E. Stubbs that details the controversy over the discovery of "Mt. McKinley," which he refers to as "Mt. Denial." What proof does he offer in making his claims? Do you agree with his assessment? What impact does the Mt. McKinley controversy have on the North Pole controversy?

"The Truth About the Pole," a program for Cook's lecture

This document is a program distributed by Cook that was designed to accompany his 1911 lecture series about his journey to the North Pole. What evidence does he offer to back his claims? How does this affect your interpretation?

North Pole Facts

This document is a description of various facts about the North Pole. See if you can identify two interesting facts. Why do you suppose this document was created?

Image from the Artic

This image is of discoverers during their Artic expedition. What does this photograph tell you?

"Cook Finds the North Pole" Headline

This document is a newspaper headline that captures the story of Cook's alleged North Pole discovery. What evidence is presented here? How does this impact your view of the controversy?

First Photograph of the North Pole(?)

This image is supposedly the first photograph of the North Pole taken on the Peary expedition. Do you accept this as concrete evidence that Peary reached the North Pole? Why or why not?

"Peary Discovers the North Pole" Headline

This document is a newspaper headline that captures the story of Peary's alleged North Pole discovery. What evidence is presented here? How does this impact your view of the controversy?

Polar Map

This document is a map of the polar regions that shows the routes of Peary and Cook. How are these routes different? How do the routes impact your conclusion about who reached the North Pole first?

Edward Barrill's Mt. McKinley Affadavit

This document is an excerpt from Edward Barrill's Mount McKinley affadavit in which he tries to discredit Cook's claim. What sorts of evidence does he use? Do you find his argument convincing? Why or why not?

Dr. Cook is Sentenced to 20 Years

This document is an article that details Cook's 1923 conviction for fraud. How does this conviction impact your perception of Cook or of his crediblity?

Photographs of Peary at the North Pole

This document includes photographs of Peary making observations at what he claims to be the North Pole. Are these images more credible than Cook's images? Why or why not?

The Four North Pole Eskimos

This document is a photograph of four Eskimos who helped with polar exploration. Does this tell you anything about the role that Eskimos played in the exploration of the Artic?

Barrill's Payment

This document is a bank draft that shows a payment made to Edward Barrill. Why did Barrill receive this payment? How does it impact your view of the controversy?