Jackson–Harmsworth expedition

Map of Franz Josef Land and the journeys by Frederick G. Jackson

The Jackson–Harmsworth expedition to Franz Josef Land, 189497, was led by British Arctic explorer Frederick George Jackson and financed by newspaper proprietor Alfred Harmsworth. Jackson had been misled by false maps into believing that Franz Joseph Land was a land mass that extended to the North Pole. The survey which was the main work of the expedition eventually proved that the land was in fact an archipelago, whose northernmost island stretched no further than 81°N.[1]

The expedition party consisted of Albert Armitage, who made astronomical, meteorological and magnetic records, Reginald Koettlitz (physician and geologist), J.F. Child (mineralogist) and Harry Fisher (botanist and zoologist), who in 1896 was replaced by William Spiers Bruce.[2]

Finding Nansen

On 17 June 1896 Jackson was startled by the sudden appearance of "a tall man, wearing a soft felt hat, loosely made, voluminous clothes, and long shaggy hair and beard".[3] This proved to be Fridtjof Nansen, who with his sole companion Hjalmar Johansen had been living on the ice since leaving the beset expedition ship Fram on 14 March 1895. It was the purest chance that had brought Nansen and Johanssen to the Jackson-Harmsworth expedition camp.

On the basis of Nansen’s account of his journey Jackson seriously considered making a bid for the Pole himself, and began to build replicas of Nansen’s sledges and kayaks. However, the lack of skiing and ice travel experience within Jackson’s party meant that such plans were quickly aborted.[4]


  1. Huntford, p. 421
  2. Jackson, Frederick G.; Armitage, Lieut.; Koettlitz, Reginald; Fisher, Harry; Bruce, W. S. (February 1898). "Three Years' Exploration in Franz Josef Land". The Geographical Journal. 11 (2): 113–138. doi:10.2307/1774430.
  3. Fleming, p. 261
  4. Fleming, pp. 26364


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