Guide to the William Hillman Collection, 1897-1930Stefansson Mss-241


William Hillman (WH) was born in New York City on September 5, 1895. After receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree from Columbia University in 1917, he served as a Sergeant in France during the First World War. After the War, WH began working as a journalist. He was married to Angela Sermolino in 1925, until her death in 1948. During the 1920's and 1930's, WH worked in Europe as a foreign correspondent for a variety of news sources, including the Hearst newspapers. One of the many events that WH covered while working in Europe was the discovery of the remains of the failed Solomon August Andrée Balloon Expedition. This expedition had begun in 1897 when Andrée, Nils Strindberg, and Knut Frænkel attempted to cross the North Pole in a hydrogen balloon. Three days into the expedition technical problems forced the balloon to land. The crew made an unsuccessful attempt at returning to civilization on foot and died in October of 1897. Their fate remained a mystery until August of 1930, when the explorers' camp was discovered on White Island by the Norwegian ship Bratvaag. This ship was also carrying a scientific expedition lead by Dr. Gunnar Horn, who agreed to give WH, or one of his associates, his first exclusive interview. WH moved his base of operations from Europe back to New York in 1945. He was married a second time, to Margherita Bisconti, in 1952. It was during this same year that he edited "Mr. President" a collection of the papers and memoirs of President Harry S. Truman. Hillman died in New York City on May 30, 1962 at 66 years old.

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