Views Changing the Past

  1. Latta, Jeffrey Blair. The Franklin conspiracy: cover-up, betrayal, and the astonishing secret behind the lost arctic expedition. Toronto: Oxford: Dundurn, 2001. (image of note) [Stefansson G660 .L28 2001]

This book contains the note that was found by McClintock’s search expedition in 1859 in a cairn on King William Island. These types of notes were used by ships to indicate location and to map ocean currents before tossing in the ocean, so that whoever found it would forward it on so that search expeditions could be sent out if needed. This note contains two separate messages, written one year apart, giving the status and location of Franklin’s expedition and confirming Franklin’s death. It was the only written record ever found of Franklin’s expedition. Speculation on the truth behind the messages written on the note and the possibility of different inks used sparked a debate about the conspiracy of Franklin’s expedition, if notes left in cairns were stolen, and why people potentially tried to keep Franklin from being found.

  1. S.T.C. The little Fox, or, The story of Captain Sir F.L. M’Clintock’s Arctic expedition written for the young. London: Seeley, Jackson, and Halliday, 1865. (frontispiece) [Stefansson G665 1857. S26]

Packed with the adventure, bravery and power of the British nation, this children’s book provides a vivid exploration of Lady Franklin’s last ploy in finding her beloved husband Sir John Franklin. In an engaging and simplified way, the perilous journey of Captain Sir F.L. M’Clintock and Lady Franklin’s vessel, the Fox, is captured in a way to educate the children of Britain of the honorable men who braved the unknown in search for the truth.

  1. Wright, Noel. New Light on Franklin. Ipswich: W.S. Cowell, 1949. (illustration “the ships on the ice”) [Stefansson G660 .W754 1949]

Wright’s book claims to solve or at least shed light on several mysteries pertaining to John Franklin’s final voyage more than a century after he died. Wright often uses timelines, maps, and conflicting written and oral records from rescue missions and Inuit to piece together what happened to both the ship and its crew members. Although it is both important and impressive that Wright presented new theories on the fate of Franklin, his crew, and the Erebus and Terror, the bigger takeaway from this book is that it is incredibly difficult to know what information is trustworthy. This isn’t to say that we should suspect people of lying; language barriers and orally-preserved information often scrambles important details. Wright cleverly sorts through these muddled details and presents what actually happened on Franklin’s last expedition.

  1. Losey, Timothy. An interdisciplinary investigation of Fort Enterprise, Northwest Territories, 1970. [Edmunton]: University of Alberta, 1973. (Fig. 1-1) [Stefansson F1100.5.F6 L674]

This is an environmentally based archeological report published in 1970 after a five-week excavation of the Fort Enterprise site in the Canadian Northwest Territories. Fort Enterprise, pictured in the context of the Canadian Arctic on the map, was a winter out-post from 1820-21 on Winter Lake that Franklin established during his first Northern Lands Expedition, which was the first documented overland scientific expedition in the Canadian North. This report is the collection of interdisciplinary data acquired about Fort Enterprise and it seeks to further inform the environmental obstacles faced by Franklin and his crew on his first expedition, contributing to a revised, and more holistic view of the Arctic.

  1. Brannan, Robert Louis. Under the Management of Mr. Charles Dickens: his production of “The Frozen Deep.” Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1966. (pg. 121) [PR4494 .F72 1966]

The Frozen Deep was a play produced in 1857 by Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens, inspired by the Franklin expedition. Charles Dickens was highly influential in discrediting John Rae’s reports of cannibalism on the expedition, and in previous writings Dickens had proposed that the Inuit lied to Rae because they had murdered the men on the Franklin expedition. The Frozen Deep is about a group of explorers who become stranded on an Arctic expedition. This scene is a conversation between the starving explorers, and shows the desperate conditions through which they persevere, and in which lesser men might resort to cannibalism. However, they uphold moral standards and “prove” that British explorers are gentlemen who could never resort to cannibalism, as a reaction to Rae’s reports. Furthermore, the timing and reception of the play show the salience of the topic of arctic exploration in Victorian England.

  1. Miertsching, Johann. Frozen ships: the Arctic diary of Johann Miertsching, 1850-1854, translated and with introduction and notes by L.H. Neatby. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1967. (pgs. 121, 178) [Stefansson G665 1850 .M453 1967b]

This memoir is a journal of Miertsching’s daily experiences above the HMS Investigator as they attempted to find Franklin’s lost expedition. More than half of this diary had to be recreated after the journey was over, as Miertsching lost his original journal. However, the book is still regarded as an accurate account of the expedition to find Franklin from the eyes of one of the few foreigners on board. The journal spans from 1850-1854, and was translated to English by L.H. Neatby and published in 1967.

  1. Simmonds, P.L. Sir John Franklin and the Arctic Regions. London: George Routledge & Co., 1801. (pgs. 191-192) [Stefansson G625 .S5 1851]

This excerpted poem, titled “Lady Franklin’s Appeal to the North,” is by an unnamed American poet. It is a piece of popular culture contemporary to the mystery of Franklin’s disappearance. Simmonds has great reverence for the lost explorers throughout the book, and likely chose to include this poem because it fits the sentiment. The poet speaks from the point of view of Lady Franklin, as she compares her soul to the cold and empty Arctic. She pleads with the Arctic to return Captain Franklin, as she, along with the rest of the world, begins to realize that he may not be returning from his journey.

  1. Scoresby, William. The Franklin Expedition: or Considerations on Measures for the Discovery and Relief of Our Absent Adventurers in the Arctic Regions. London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1850. (title page, autograph) [Stefansson G662 .S42]

This review of the contemporary possibilities for rescuing, or at least finding, the Franklin expedition was written by Reverend Scoresby, an Arctic explorer, scientist, and clergyman. This copy was gifted by Lady Franklin to Robert Burford, Esq. on February 10th, 1850. Burford was a well-known Arctic explorer who had searched for the Franklin expedition. Lady Franklin would probably have met Burford through her connections in the Admiralty, and she may have given this book to more than one arctic explorer in her social circle, in the hopes that one of them might find it useful enough to attempt another rescue mission. Robert Burford, Reverend Scoresby, and Lady Franklin were all well-known figures to the British public, and are all historically connected through this artifact.

  1. Cracroft, Sophia. Lady Franklin visits Sitka, Alaska, 1870: the journal of Sophia Cracroft, Sir John Franklin’s niece / edited by R.N. DeArmond. Anchorage, Alaska: Anchorage Historical Society, 1981. (pgs. 17-18) [Stefansson F914.C73 1981]

This published book is a collection of journal entries written by Sophia Cracroft, the niece of the renowned arctic explorer Sir John Franklin. Sophia was the travel companion of Lady Jane Franklin, the widow of Sir John Franklin, after her husband’s disappearance. This journal of Lady Franklin’s trip to Alaska describes Lady Franklin’s nature and her work promoting Arctic development and continued exploration. On a page of her journal, Sophia copies a newspaper article from The Alaska Times that announced Lady Franklin’s trip to Sitka. The journalist notes that Lady Franklin had great “heroism and devotion” to preserving her husband’s memory and continuing his legacy in her travels to Alaska and other Arctic nations. In this article, it is apparent that Lady Franklin was received abroad in Sitka with great respect and that she was known by all as a leading figure in promoting arctic development and exploration.