Biography

Lorentz Peter Elfred Freuchen was born on February 20, 1886 in Nyk0bing, on the Danish island of Falster, one of seven children of a merchant. Educated at the local dame-school and the Cathedral School (1896—1904), he enrolled at the University of Copenhagen to study medicine, but after two years he succumbed to the lure of adventure. Participation in Mylius-Erichsen's 1906—1908 Greenland Expedition left him disinclined to continue studying medicine, but led to his ongoing contributions to Copenhagen's daily Politiken, as well as his association with Knud Rasmussen. Rasmussen recruited him to join the Fifth Thule Expedition (1921—1924) to explore and map the Canadian Arctic. Frostbite, which led to the loss of his left leg, ended his career as an explorer. However, he continued traveling widely, but only infrequently returned to the Arctic. In Denmark, he pursued a successful career as a lecturer, journalist, author, and screen-writer. Freuchen sheltered German refugees on his island farm, Eneh0je, before and during World War II, served in the Danish resistance, was twice captured and imprisoned, and narrowly escaped to Stockholm, where he edited a newspaper for Danish refugees. Thereafter, he lived in New York City and rural Connecticut. Virtually all of Freuchen's numerous books reflected his adventurous life and travels. They range from the scientifically technical to the popular and autobiographical, as well as novels and screenplays.

Freuchen married Navarana, an Inughuit, in Thule, by whom he had a son, Mequsaq (born 1915), and a daughter, Pipaluk (born 1918). Navarana died of influenza in 1921 while she was making preparations for the Fifth Thule Expedition. Freuchen married his old friend Magdalene Vang-Lauridsen in Denmark in 1924. They were divorced in 1945, in which year he met and married Dagmar Mueller. Freuchen died suddenly of heart failure on September 2, 1957 at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, where Lowell Thomas had arranged for four "pioneers of Arctic exploration"— Peter Freuchen, Donald Baxter MacMillan, Sir Hubert Wilkins, and Bernt Balchen—to retrace their expeditions by air and examine changes in the Arctic for a television documentary. Freuchen's ashes were scattered from a plane at Thule over North Star Bay.

Merill Distad

See also Birket-Smith, Kaj; Mathiassen, Therkel; Mikkelsen, Ejnar; Mylius-Erichsen, Ludwig; Peary, Robert E; Rasmussen, Knud; Wegener, Alfred

Further Reading

Amdrup, Georg Carl et al., "Danmarks-Ekspeditionen til Gr0nlands Nord0stkyst 1906-1908, Bind I: Report on the Danmark Expedition to the North-east Coast of Greenland, 1906-1908." Meddelelser om Grönland, Bind XLI(1-5) (1913): 1-474

Fristrup, B0rge, The Greenland Ice Cap, Seattle: University of

Washington Press, 1967 Malaurie, Jean, Ultima Thulé: de la découverte à l'invasion [Ultima Thule: From Discovery to Invasion] (2nd edition), Paris: Éditions du Chêne, 2000 Mathiassen, Therkel, Report on the Expedition: Report of the Fifth Thule Expedition, 1921-24: The Danish Expedition to Arctic North America, Volume 1, No. 1, Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1945, reprinted New York: AMS Press, 1976 Rasmussen, Knud, "Report of the First Thule Expedition 1912." Meddelelser om Grönland, Bind LI (8) (1915): 285-340

-, Across Arctic America: Narrative of the Fifth Thule

Expedition, New York: Putnam, 1927, reprinted New York: Greenwood Press, 1969, and Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press, 1999

Vaughan, Richard, Northwest Greenland: A History, Orono:

University of Maine Press, 1991

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