The Papers of George Shorkley in the Dartmouth College LibraryWMST Mss-207

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Shorkley, George
Title Remainder: Papers. 1902-1905
Dates: 1902-1905
Identification: Mss-207


1871 Born November 21, in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.
1887 Graduated from Lewisburg High School.
1888 Graduated from Bucknell Academy, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.
1892 Ph.B., Bucknell University, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.
1892-1893 Member of Harvard Archeological Expedition to Honduras.
1898 Served in Spanish-American War as First Lieutenant, Pennsylvania National Guard.
1899 M.D., Hahnemann Medical College, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Moved to Camden, Maine, where he practiced medicine until 1913.
1902 Member of the relief expedition sent to rescue the Ziegler-Baldwin expedition to Franz Josef Land.
1903-1905 Served as surgeon on Ziegler-Fiala expedition to Franz Josef Land.
ca. 1906 Married Alice Katharyn MacLaughlin (?).
1908 Married Grace Tiffany Drinkwater.
1910 Daughter, Thelma Marie, born.
1913 Moved to Mount Vernon, Washington.
1916 Served as Captain, U.S. Army, on the Mexican border.
1917-1919 Served in U.S. Army in France; promoted to Major.
1930 Wife, Grace Shorkley, died.
1932 Married Sara Merriman Dyer.
1945 Died, November 30, in Mount Vernon, Washington.


These papers of Dr. George Shorkley (1871-1945) are entirely concerned with his Arctic experiences. In 1902 he joined the relief expedition to rescue the Baldwin-Ziegler expedition to Franz Josef Land. Then in 1903 he was appointed chief surgeon to the Fiala-Ziegler expedition and served with the expedition in Franz Josef Land until its return in 1905. Dr. Frederick A. Cook, in a brief report on the status of various polar expeditions in progress in 1901, said: “I can think of but one weak link in the Baldwin-Ziegler chain of circumstances, and that is the weakness of every large party in the polar wilds. I refer to the indescribable something which holds men together and compels them to work with an iron will for a common end.” Certainly this applied as well to the Fiala-Ziegler expedition which immediately followed the Baldwin-Ziegler fiasco. Anthony Fiala was a brave man and was concerned for the welfare of his men, but he was not able to inspire them to work together to achieve the goal of the expedition -- the North Pole or at least the “farthest north.” Although the large, splendidly equipped expedition had some bad luck, its failure was mostly due to Fiala's inexperience and ineffective leadership, which allowed indifference and dissension to spread among the many bored and idle men. Had it not been for the good work of Russell W. Porter, William J. Peters, and two or three others in gathering scientific data, the expedition would have been as unsuccessful as its predecessor.

Dr. Shorkley for one had no respect for Fiala or his abilities. Among his papers here is a little booklet titled “Fialaisms,” in which he collected what he considered Fiala's ridiculous remarks. Shorkley also kept a journal titled “Medical Records,” that he used as a personal journal as well, recording his view of events and frequently criticizing Fiala and others. Another ledger, disbound, contains physical descriptions of the men and the results of their physical examinations. There are also reports to Fiala, some of Fiala's written orders, lists of supplies, copies of the camp newspaper, and a few miscellaneous papers. This small collection of papers contains a great deal of interesting information about a little known Arctic expedition.

Dr. Shorkley's papers were given to the Dartmouth College Library by Mr. and Mrs. Neal Hood of Mount Vernon, Washington. There are no restrictions on their use.



List of the members of the Ziegler-Fiala expedition, photocopy from Fighting the Polar Ice by Anthony Fiala; and biographical information from the Bucknell University Archives.


“Personal Journal,” 1902, on the Ziegler-Baldwin expedition. Note on inside of front cover and five pages only, holograph. There are also two women's names with addresses and dates on the last page.


Journal in large coverless ledger with loose title page, “Medical Records -- Ziegler Polar Expedition.” Contains 164 pages of holograph entries, June 22, 1903-September 7, 1904. In addition to medical records, there is much personal commentary and general information about the expedition. Tipped in are two typewritten lists of contents of medical cases and a signed order from Fiala.


“Fialaisms,” a collection of statements of Fiala which Shorkley evidently found ridiculous. Title page and ten pages of text, holograph on brown wrapping paper in booklet form.


Medical records, 1903-1904, of thirty-seven members of the Ziegler-Fiala expedition. Records include brief description of each man and the results of one to three general examinations. Holograph on loose pages of large record book.


List of “Medical and Surgical Supplies left at `Camp Abruzzi.”' Two copies, typewritten.


Lists of “Personal belongings of Geo. Shorkley used or lost on Z.P.E. [Ziegler Polar Expedition].” Values of the items are also listed and totaled.


Letter from Henry P. Hartt, Chief Engineer, to Shorkley, March 21, 1905.


Reports to Fiala:

George Shorkley, Surgeon, February 20, 1904;

J. Colin Vaughan, Asst. Surgeon, February 24, 1904;

H. H. Newcomb, Veterinarian, February 25, 1904;

Edwin Coffin, Master, February 25, 1904;

John W. Truden, Commissary, February 25, 1904;

Charles E. Rilliet, Quartermaster, May 6, 1904.

The first three reports are signed copies; the last three are holograph copies made by Shorkley.
FOLDER : 10.

“Instructions for Sledge Party North” and various “general” and “regular” orders issued by Fiala. Typed and printed copies, some signed by Fiala. Two of them appear in Fighting the Polar Ice.

FOLDER : 11.

The Arctic Eagle, camp newspaper in four issues, July 31, 1903-December 26, 1904. Number two is printed as last page of number three, and number four is a photocopy. Includes four-page layout for another paper, The Polar Pirate, dated May 31, 1905.

FOLDER : 12.

Photocopies of papers in Folder 11.

FOLDER : 13.

Program and menu for the Christmas banquet, 1903; and typescript of verse “Aesculapius in the Arctic,” apparently written by Shorkley for the banquet, as listed in the program.

FOLDER : 14.

Miscellaneous papers and clippings.

FOLDER : 15.

Map of Franz Josef Land, with plotted tracks of the America and sledge parties.

FOLDER : 16.

Photographs: two of Henry P. Hartt; one of sketches of women done by Fiala; and one of a party of six men and five women on the deck of a ship (America?).

FOLDER : 17.

Canvas pouch which contained the Shorkley papers.

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