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Last Updated 2/28/2008
AGS Fliers' and Explorers' Globe - 2008 Signing Event
The American Geographical Society is pleased to announce that Captain Lawson W. Brigham, U.S. Coast Guard (Ret.), signed the
AGS Flier’s and Explorers’ Globe on February 12, 2008. The event took place on the campus of the University of Delaware in Newark, DE. The ceremony
was web cast, with the video to be archived and available for future viewing through the University’s web site.
The signing of the AGS Globe launched the W. S. Carlson International Polar Year Events, a year-long series of public lectures, seminars, exhibits, films,
and other events held at the University of Delaware to celebrate the fourth International Polar Year. AGS and UD are partners in the series, which will
take place throughout 2008. The series is named for William Samuel Carlson, UD’s 20th President (1946-50), who participated in numerous scientific
expeditions to Greenland and helped develop several important air transport routes in the Arctic for the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II.
The February 12 ceremony commemorated the epic voyage of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Sea
to the polar limits of the global ocean, under the command of Captain Brigham. In 1994 Brigham took Polar Sea from the Ross Ice Shelf off Antarctica
(the southern limit of navigation) to the Arctic Ocean, passing through the North Pole to Svalbard, then circumnavigating North America and Greenland.
This spectacular journey also involved considerable scientific accomplishments. The most recent issue of the AGS publication Focus on Geography featured
an article, “The Age of Cryopolitics,” that contains photos of Polar Sea and other U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers.
The Fliers’ and Explorers’ Globe has been signed by more than 75 of the world’s most celebrated
explorers, including Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, Sir Edmund Hillary, John Glenn, and Neil Armstrong. It is particularly appropriate that Brigham’s
signing is occurring during the International Polar Year 2007-2009. More than 30 of the Globe’s signers, including Roald Amundsen, Louise Boyd, Laurence
Gould, Matthew Henson, Fridtjof Nansen, Robert Peary, Richard Byrd, and Sir Hubert Wilkins, were honored for their accomplishments in the polar regions.
The Globe was donated to AGS by John Finley, who served as AGS President (1925-34), Honorary President (1935-40), and as Editor-in-Chief of The New York
Times (1937-38). Finley initiated the signing tradition by carrying the Globe to the New York wharfs to get signatures from home-coming explorers.
The American Geographical Society has a long and illustrious record of accomplishment in
exploration, scientific investigation, and mapping in the polar regions. AGS sponsored or was associated with many voyages of polar exploration in the
nineteenth and twentieth centuries, beginning with Elisha Kent Kane’s 1853-55 expedition in search of Sir John Franklin. Many AGS medals have been awarded
for exploration firsts and scientific accomplishments in the polar regions. Scientific results from polar expeditions are ubiquitous in the pages of the
Geographical Review and its predecessor journals. The Society’s Map of the Arctic Region and
its Antarctic Folio Series are only two examples of its many major contributions to the mapping sciences in Antarctica and the Arctic. The Society’s
building in New York was home to the U.S. branch of the Arctic Institute of North America during the Institute’s early years. The World Data Center for
Glaciology was housed in the AGS building for many years, under the direction of William O. Field.
The February 12 ceremony featured an illustrated talk by Captain Brigham, describing his 1994 voyage.
Brigham was introduced by AGS President Jerome Dobson, AGS Councilor John Noble Wilford of The New York Times, and a previous signer, Dr. Don Walsh, who
holds the world record for diving to the deepest point in the world ocean.
Further information can be found at http://www.udel.edu/research/polar/events.html. A Univesity
of Delaware news announcement about the globe signing can also be viewed online, and a University
of Delaware news story about the globe signing event can be viewed online.