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In May of 1906, Ernest Leffingwell and Ejnar Mikkelsen, co-commanders of the Anglo American Polar Expedition, sailed from Victoria, British Columbia to determine if there was land north of Alaska. The following spring they barely survived their trip on the pack ice off the northern coast of Alaska. However, between 1906 and 1914, including 9 summers and 6 winters, Leffingwell defined and mapped the geography and geology of northeastern Alaska, (a significant portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) including the coastline, and he studied the formation of permafrost. He made 31 trips by sled and small boat, and pitched a tent 380 times, in the process covering over 4500 miles.
Along with her own passion for the Arctic, Janet R. Collins, who spent thirty years as the director and map librarian at a nationally-recognized map library, has an undergraduate degree in geography and a master’s degree in library science. For Leffingwell’s biography, she consulted his journals and professional reports, family papers and memories, and published and unpublished writings of Leon Barnard, Vilhjalmur Stefansson, and Ejnar Mikkelsen.
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