Arctic History in the John Carter Brown Library's Archive

Arctic history is suddenly hot.  An exhibition currently on view at the British Library - Lines in the Ice: Seeking the Northwest Passage - is bringing attention to early prints and maps of the Arctic and to the historic search for the Northwest Passage. Earlier this week an article published on Slate's history blog The Vault highlighted images from a 19th-century British expedition of Baffin Bay captained by John Ross.  The images in the Slate article are all drawn from the John Carter Brown Library's superb online Archive of Early American Images.  And they're just the tip of the iceberg. The collection, which is hosted through LUNA, contains beautiful historic illustrations from a number of Arctic expeditions and whaling voyages, and the surreal landscapes are definitely worth exploring. 

 From an account of whaling in the Arctic regions, a whale breaches the water and throws a boat.  Image date: 1820.

From an account of whaling in the Arctic regions, a whale breaches the water and throws a boat.  Image date: 1820.

 The missionary settlement  of Lichtenfels on the west coast of Greenland, with Inuit dwellings.  Image date: 1818.

The missionary settlement  of Lichtenfels on the west coast of Greenland, with Inuit dwellings.  Image date: 1818.

 From the journal of a voyage for the discovery of a Northwest Passage under the orders of William Edward Parry.  Image date: 1821.

From the journal of a voyage for the discovery of a Northwest Passage under the orders of William Edward Parry.  Image date: 1821.

 From a narrative of a journey to the shores of the Polar Sea under Sir John Franklin.  Image date: 1823.

From a narrative of a journey to the shores of the Polar Sea under Sir John Franklin.  Image date: 1823.

 From Sir William Edward Parry's journal of a second voyage for the discovery of a Northwest Passage, Inuit ride on a dog sled.  Image date: 1824.

From Sir William Edward Parry's journal of a second voyage for the discovery of a Northwest Passage, Inuit ride on a dog sled.  Image date: 1824.

 Sir John Franklin's expedition to the shores of the Polar Sea.  Image date: 1828.

Sir John Franklin's expedition to the shores of the Polar Sea.  Image date: 1828.