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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Vilhjalmur Stefansson Papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1918-1986
Creator: Stefansson, Vilhjalmur (1879-1962)
Extent: .25 linear feet.
Collection Number: RG99.0013
Repository: University of Iowa Archives
Summary: Alumni, University of Iowa, class of 1903. Anthropologist and Arctic explorer. Correspondence, photographs, clippings, articles.

Alternate Extent Statement: Photographs: Box 1

Access: This collection is open for research.

Use: Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Acquisition: These materials were transferred to the University Archives from Professor G.Edgar Folk, Jr., Department of Physiology and Biophysics.

Preferred Citation: Vilhjalmur Stefansson Papers, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.

Repository: University of Iowa Archives
Address: 100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5921
Curator: David McCartney

Much of this biographical note was drawn from Lynn Gordon Hughes' article, located online at the following Unitarian Universalist Historical Society Web page
Vilhjalmur E. Stefansson was born November 3, 1879, in the Icelandic community of Arnes, in Manitoba, Canada. His family moved to North Dakota when he was one year old. After being expelled from the University of North Dakota for challenging the authority of his professors, Stefansson enrolled at the University of Iowa, and earned his Bachelor of Philosophy degree in June 1903. From 1903 to 1904, Stefansson studied at the Harvard Divinity School. During 1906, he joined the Anglo-American polar expedition, and lived with Inuit people, adapting their lifestyle. Stefansson joined UI colleague Rudolph Anderson in an Arctic mission from 1908 to 1912. During this mission, Stefansson took an Inuit wife, Fannie Pannigabluk, and their son, Alex, was born in 1910. Anthropologist and explorer Stefansson is noted for discovering the "Blond Eskimo" in 1910.
Stefansson received an honorary doctorate at the University of Iowa, June 6, 1922, and an honorary law degree at the University of North Dakota in 1930. In the early 1950s, Stefansson and his second wife, Evelyn, were investigated for their Communist sentiments, and for their associations with radicals Emma Goldman and John Reed in New York, where Stefansson lived. Vilhjalmur Stefansson died August 26, 1962, in Hanover, New Hampshire.

These papers include biographical pamphlets, photographs, clippings, and correspondence. Later correspondence is regarding the creation of a bronze bust and holding the Stefansson Centennial Symposium in 1980.
Folder, "Stefansson, Vilhjalmur," in Alumni and Former Students Vertical Files collection (RG01.0015.001)

"Arctic Dreamer: The Lonely Quest of Vilhjalmur Stefansson," VHS tape by White Pine Pictures, Toronto, 2003

Kohler, Francis J. "History of the State University of Iowa: Scientific Expeditions, Collections, and the Museum of Natural History. " M.A. thesis, University of Iowa, 1944.

Halas, Christine D. "The James A. Van Allen Papers" Books at Iowa 51:53-61 (November 1989)

Papers of June Helm (RG99.0018)

Russell, Frank "Explorations in the Far North, by Frank Russell. Being the Report of an Expedition Under the Auspices of the University of Iowa During the Years 1892, '93, and '94."

Browse by Series:
Series 3: GENERAL

  • Series 1: BIOGRAPHICAL
  • Box 1:
  • My Five Years in the Arctic, lecture announcement - 1919
  • Mattila, Robert. A Chronological Bibliography of the Published Works of Vilhjalmur Stefansson - 1978
  • Vilhjalmur Stefansson. New York: Nomad Publishing Company - 1925
  • Box 1:
  • Correspondence - 1918-1955
  • Correspondence - 1979-1981
  • Series 3: GENERAL
  • Box 1:
  • Newspaper clippings - 1946 -1980
  • Photographs (by Gordon Searle) of dedication of Vilhjalmur Stefansson bronze bust, sculpted by Otto Hahn - 1980
  • Vilhjalmur Stefansson 22-cent U. S. postage stamp - 1986
  • Series 4: PAMPHLETS
  • Box 1:
  • Stefansson, Vilhjalmur. "The Near Way is North -- by Plane." Peace is a Process: Selected Articles from 'The Rotarian' Magazine Charting Postwar Opportunities Created by New Forces in World Affairs (January 1945): 105-106. - 1945
  • Stefansson, Vilhjalmur. "The Necessity of Cooperating With Russia." U.S.S.R. Society for Cultural Relations With Foreign Countries (VOKS). In Defence [sic] of Civilization Against Fascist Barbarism. Statements, Letters and Telegrams From Prominent People. (1941):95 - 1941
  • William M. Furnish review of "Vilhjalmur Stefansson and the Development of Arctic Terrestrial Science," edited by G. Edgar Folk, Jr., and Mary Arp Folk. Arctic Journal, vol. 39, no. 3, (1984) p.280-282 - 1984