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Parting of the Boats Image

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: DSA
Date: 07 Jun 2019

Biographical History

The Jeannette expedition was a privately-funded American expedition seeking to reach the North Pole by entering the Arctic via the Pacific Ocean. The expedition was funded by James Gordon Bennett, Jr., of the New York Herald, and led by George W. De Long. Starting in 1789, the expedition eventually met with disaster in 1881 when the vessel, stuck in ice in the Arctic Ocean north of Siberia, was crushed and sank, requiring the men to set out on foot over the ice in search of land. Eventually the expedition landed upon an island, still distant from mainland Siberia, which De Long named Bennett Island after their patron. From here, the group set out in three individual boats in search of the Lena River Delta in northern Siberia and were separated in a storm. This separation led to the permanent disappearance of one of the three boats. With two boats eventually reaching the Lena Delta, ultimately only thirteen of the original thirty-three members of the Jeannette's crew returned alive to the United States.

The incident of the parting of the boats is also depicted in the article "George Wallace Melville," by Wiliam Ledyard Cathcart in Cassier's Magazine, vol. XI, no. 6 (April, 1897), page 460. Cathcart's illustration was reproduced from the book In the Lena Delta, by George W. Melville (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1885), page 65. The book illustration in turn appears to be derived from an illustration appearing on the cover of The Graphic, no. 651, vol. XXV (May 20, 1882), which credits an eyewitness account as its source.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

Parting of the Boats Image is a single item, a photograph of a painting depicting the scene of the lifeboats' separation from each other in a storm following the sinking of the Jeannette in the Arctic Ocean north of Siberia. On back is handwritten summary of a portion of the article "George Wallace Melville," by Wiliam Ledyard Cathcart in Cassier's Magazine, vol. XI, no. 6 (April, 1897), pages 468-469. Though this image comes from an unknown artist, it appears to be of a common tradition with the published examples mentioned above.

Arrangement of the Collection

Single item.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Bennett, James Gordon, 1841-1918.
De Long, George W. (George Washington), 1844-1881.
Melville, George W. (George Wallace), 1841-1912.

Corporate Bodies

New York herald.


Jeannette Expedition (1879-1881)


Arctic regions -- Discovery and exploration.
Lena River Delta (Russia)

Genres and Forms


Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Parting of the Boats Image,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information


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