Bio of Adm. MacMillan from the Bowdoin
Donald Baxter MacMillan was born November 10, 1874,
in Provincetown, Massachusetts, the younger son of Captain Neil MacMillan and
Sarah Gardner MacMillan, a shipbuilder's daughter. After receiving his degree
from Bowdoin in 1898, MacMillan served as principal of Levi Hall School in North
Gorham, Maine (1898-1900). He later taught at Swarthmore Preparatory School in
Swarthmore, Pennsylvania (1900-1903), and at Worcester Academy in Worcester,
MacMillan's correspondence with Admiral Robert E.
Peary (Bowdoin 1877) led to his becoming an assistant to the arctic explorer on
his expedition to the North Pole (1908-09). An accident, however, prevented
MacMillan from reaching the pole himself, a goal he never realized except by
Over his lifetime MacMillan would make over thirty
expeditions to the far North on the schooner Bowdoin, conducting important work
in the fields of botany, ornithology, meteorology, and anthropology. Many of
these trips he made with his wife, Miriam Look, whom he married in 1935.
Together they led several crews of faculty and students (many from Bowdoin) on
expeditions into the arctic between 1935and 1954.
In addition to his arctic expeditions, MacMillan
lectured throughout the United States and wrote several books, including Four
Years in the White North (1918), Etah and Beyond (1927), and How Peary Reached
the Pole (1934). He also served in the U.S. Navy as Lieutenant (1918-1919),
Commander (1941-1945), and Rear Admiral (1954); was Tallman Professor of
Anthropology at Bowdoin (1932-1933); and was awarded the F.R.G.S. Special
Congressional Medal in 1944. He received honorary degrees from Bowdoin (1918)
and Boston University (1937) and was educated at Harvard from 1911-1913. He died
on September 7, 1970.
Link to website:
"Adolphus Greely was the commanding officer of the doomed Lady Franklin Bay Expedition from 1881-1884. Born on March 27, 1844 in Newburyport, MA, he joined the United States Army at the age of 17 during the American Civil War.
The John Greely family
Adolphus Greely in Army uniform
In 1867, he joined the U.S. Signal Corps after being promoted to Lieutenant. In this capacity, he worked on the new telegraph network that was being implemented nationwide, and he developed a keen interest in weather systems.
In 1881, Greely volunteered to lead the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition team to the Arctic Circle. Greely had no previous command experience in extreme weather conditions. However, Greely was notorious for his rigid manner and emphasis on military discipline. Over the course of the three years that he and his team were left abandoned in the Arctic, Greely's strict command helped keep the expedition alive. It was not until the final six months of the mission, when rations had shrunk to nearly nothing, that order within the camp began to break down. After one man stole food, Greely ordered his execution to send a message to the others. By June 1884, when rescuers finally arrived, Greely and his six surviving crewmembers were on the verge of death, having survived that long by eating moss, candle wax and animal droppings.
The John Greely family
Adolphus Greely after the expedition
Upon his return to the United States in August 1884, Greely met with a mixed public reception. Rumors of cannibalism and inhumane treatment under his command tainted his image. In 1887, Greely was promoted to Chief Officer of the Signal Corps, where for 20 years he helped expand the weather notification service and laid telegraph cables from Alaska to Cuba. In 1906, he commanded the emergency relief response following the San Francisco earthquake. At the age of 64, he retired from military duty. On March 21, 1935, Greely received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his extensive career in public service. He died on October 20, 1935."
6/20/2012--Update- Kate Doordan Klavin sent me the following information:
Lew, for the Arctic editions. I really enjoyed the stories and the very handsome
bookplates. I am puzzled, however, by a reference in the 1909 newspaper clipping
to Amos Bonsall being the only survivor of the Kane Expedition. In fact, there
were quite a few survivors (including Kane himself). And, of course, most
current intelligence debunks Cook's claim of reaching the Pole first. Or ever.
Really looking forward to the next newsletter; Polar exploration is such a
Sir Raymond Edward Priestley (20 July 1886 – 24 June 1974) was a British geologist and early Antarctic explorer..I currently have a duplicate of this bookplate for possible exchange.
Stay tuned for part two.
If you have any plates relating to polar explorers
please send scans to
They will be added to the next posting.