Janet R. Collins reading on November 3
Join us for a reading and discussion with author Janet R. Collins on November 3. Janet will be presenting from her new book, On the Arctic Frontier: Ernest Leffingwell’s Polar Explorations and Legacy, published by Washington State University Press.
About On the Arctic Frontier: Ernest Leffingwell’s Polar Explorations and Legacy:
Eager to investigate rumors of land north of Alaska, Ernest deKoven Leffingwell and Ejnar Mikkelsen organized the 1906 Anglo American Polar Expedition. Despite extreme conditions, they determined the edge of the continental shelf--a significant geographic discovery. Leffingwell remained behind, and with substantial assistance from his Inupiat neighbors, the driven young geologist explored, surveyed and documented geography along Alaska's north coast and what is now the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). On the North Slope of the Brooks Range, he pioneered research in ground ice (permafrost), observed birds, and collected wildlife specimens. His groundbreaking work still informs scientists and scholars.
A November 1897 presentation by Norway’s famous explorer, Fridtjof Nansen, sparked Ernest Leffingwell’s lifelong passion for the Arctic. Almost 100 years later, Janet R. Collins discovered her own zeal when she took a college course called Arctic Environment. Soon she was a frequent traveler to Alaska, and during a 1992 backpacking trip to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, she noticed a name—Camp 263—on a map. Intrigued, Collins began to research it, and found the fascinating person behind the site was Leffingwell. Collins’ seven-year investigation revealed a meticulous and detailed explorer who made journal entries in pencil and often used abbreviations and initials, leaving her with much to decipher. Another major challenge was simplifying his highly technical scientific report covering cartography, geography, and geology. Conversely, visiting places where the geologist had worked was one of her favorite experiences. “I was thrilled to be able to travel to Franz Josef Land during the summer of 2016, and have been to numerous locations within the Arctic Refuge where he conducted his fieldwork,” she says. In the end, she began to understand the man himself, and she conveys that knowledge in her biography, lending insight into Leffingwell’s values, character, and choices. 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.
About Janet R. Collins:
Along with her own passion for the Arctic, Janet R. Collins, former director of the Huxley Map Library at Western Washington University, 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 Alice Barnard, Vilhjalmur Stefansson, and Ejnar Mikkelsen.