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

Full Finding Aid


Guide to the William Hillman Collection, 1897-1930

Call Number:

Stefansson Mss-241

Collection Dates:


Size of Collection:

2 Boxes (.25 linear feet)


The William Hillman Collection contains twelve silver print photographs of the Andrée Expedition; 9 telegrams sent to Hillman discussing the Expedition's story; portions of 16 newspaper articles covering the Andrée Expedition and 1 broadside depicting the Expedition's balloon.

Access to Collection:


Use & Access

The materials represented in this guide may be accessed through the Rauner Special Collections Library at Dartmouth College. Rauner Library is located in Webster Hall. The materials must be used on-site and may not leave Rauner Library.

Rauner Special Collections Library is open to the public and in most cases no appointment is necessary. The exception is in the case of materials stored off site for which there may be a delay of up to 48 hours in retrieval. Please consult the Access to Collection statement below or contact Rauner Reference.

Access to Collection


Publication & Use

Permission from Dartmouth College required for publication or reproduction.

Introduction to the Collection

The William Hillman Collection contains twelve silver print photographs; 9 telegrams; 16 newspapers articles and 1 broadside related to S. A. Andrée's ill fated balloon expedition to the North Pole in 1897.

The photographs are copies of those printed from the negatives shot by Andrée and his men during the expedition and then recovered by Norwegian reporters in 1930. They document the downed balloon, scenes of camp life, a dead polar bear, the Expedition's boat, and a dead bird. The telegrams are from "Stansbury", "Ranck", and "Ritchie" and were sent to Hillman discussing the Andrée story. The telegrams allude to Andrée's diary, Hillman's interview with Gunnar Horn, and the Strindberg and "Frænkel" diaries. The 16 newspaper segments are from The Boston Advertiser, The Los Angeles Examiner, The New York American, and the Chicago Herald and Examiner. One article, dated September 20 and appearing in The New York American, carries Hillman's byline. In addition to covering the discovery of the Expedition, the newspapers printed excerpts from the diaries of Andrée and Strindberg. The broadside was distributed by the Swedish government to native tribes along Andrée's suspected route appealing to them to offer aide to the balloonists if discovered.


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.

Box & Folder List

Box: 1, Dates: Circa 1930

Access Restrictions


Box Contents

  • Folder: 1, Andrée Photographs, Circa 1930's
  • Folder: 2, Telegrams to William Hillman, Aug. 30 - Sept. 11, 1930
  • Folder: 3, Newspaper Articles on Andrée Expedition (Photocopies), Aug. 29 - Nov. 30, 1930
  • Folder: 4, Newspaper Articles on Andrée Expedition (Originals), Aut. 29 - Nov. 30, 1930

Box: 2, Dates: 1897

Access Restrictions


Box Contents

  • Folder: 1, Broadside of S.A. Andrée polar balloon, 1897

Finding Aids