25-30 October 2021: Peter undertakes research in Denmark


Peter has recently returned from an archival research trip to Copenhagen to consult various materials for the Arctic Cultures project.



He began by consulting the collections of the Kongelige Danske Geografiske Selskab [Royal Danish Geographical Society] which are held at the Nationalmuseet [National Museum of Denmark]. He was studying the collections relating to the Danish Geographer Hans Peder Steensby who was an important contributor to the ‘Origins of the Inuit’ debates and published several works relating to this issue. The archive held various materials including manuscripts, photographs, maps and correspondence, all of which will offer new insights into Steensby’s life and works.



The museum also houses a large collection of Inuit material culture. Gathered by various travellers, explorers and missionaries, these collections have historically been key resources for the study of Arctic indigenous peoples. Steensby himself worked with these collections and used Inuit material culture to inform his understandings of Inuit and their historical migrations.



Peter then went on to visit the Arktisk Institut where he consulted materials relating to the Danish traveller and explorer Peter Fruechen.




Along with the celebrated Arctic ethnologist Knud Rasmussen, Freuchen travelled extensively in Greenland and helped to establish the Thule Trading Station in the Avanersuaq region of Northern Greenland. There were various materials in the collections that related to the Thule Expeditions, including maps, sketches and reports, as well as correspondence between Freuchen and Arctic scholars around the world. Freuchen also discussed the ‘Origins of the Inuit’ in his publications and these materials will hence allow us to understand the development of these ideas.

Peter would like to thank Jesper Kurt Neilsen and Martin Appelt at the Nationalmuseet, and Jørgen Trondhjem, Stig Søndergaard Rasmussen and Lone Riis at the Arktisk Institut for their warm welcome and generous help with his research.

Image 1: Entrance to Nationalmuseet.

Image 2: Archival materials relating to H.P. Steensby.

Image 3: Photograph of H.P. Steensby.

Image 4: Map of Greenland in H.P. Steensby collections.

Image 5: Inuit material culture collections at Nationalmuseet.

Image 6: Inuit material culture collections at Nationalmuseet.

Image 7: Inuit material culture collections at Nationalmuseet.

Image 8: Entrance to Arktisk Institut.

Image 9: Map depicting route of 1st Thule Expedition. [Arktisk Institut Collections, A372 K0006-003]

Image 10: Sketches of Greenland in Freuchen collections. [Arktisk Institut Collections, A251 pk 1–9]

Image 11: Map depicting route of 1st Thule Expedition. [Arktisk Institut Collections, A-D K0006-001]


All photographs by P.R. Martin, 25-28 October 2021.