Polar Exploration


Map showing Franklin's first expedition, 1819-1822.

John Franklin (1786-1847)Narrative of a Journey to the Shores of the Polar Sea. London: J. Murray, 1823.

English explorer Franklin, who served in the Royal Navy, made a total of three expeditions to the Arctic in search of the Northwest Passage, an arctic waterway that would connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. This map shows the coastline that he charted in his first expedition, from 1819-1822, along with the information gleaned from Arctic expeditions led by two other British naval officers, William Edward Parry and James Clark Ross.

While his first and second Polar expeditions had some success, Franklin's third expedition (1845-1847) proved fatal. He, and all of the expedition members, died when ice-bound ships left the crew exposed to starvation, illness, and death. The story of the ill-fated expedition has emerged slowly over the years, and become the subject of much popular and scholarly interest.