Josephine Diebitsch Peary was born May 22, 1863 in Washington, D.C. Josephine was raised in a loving family that encouraged her to explore the world. In 1885, while attending dancing school in Washington, Josephine met Robert Edwin Peary, the future Admiral who would become the first white man to lead a successful expedition to the North Pole. Three years later, on August 11, 1888, the two were married and began a life of discovery together. Josephine Peary's eagerness to explore the world prompted her to accompany her husband on his second expedition to Greenland, from 1891-1892, and she became the first woman to take part in an Arctic exploration.
During the 1891-1892 expedition, Josephine Peary wrote My Arctic Journal (1893), which provided the world an accurate, elaborate picture of Arctic geography and Inuit culture. In 1893, Josephine again accompanied her husband to Greenland, and during this time she gave birth to a daughter, Marie Ahnighito Peary, less than thirteen degrees from the North Pole. Marie was famous for being the most northerly born white child and was nicknamed "Snow Baby" by both Inuits and Americans. Her middle name honored the Inuit woman who made Marie's first fur suit.
After Admiral Peary reached the Pole in 1909, the Pearys spent most of their time at their summer home built on Eagle Island, off Harpswell in Casco Bay. During the winter months, they lived in Washington, D.C. On May 6, 1955, Josephine Peary was awarded the National Geographic Society's highest honor, their Medal of Achievement. After Admiral Peary's death in 1920, she settled into a permanent home on Baxter Boulevard in Portland. She made a few public appearances, mostly to advocate for her husband's achievements or to tell stories of the Arctic. She spent most of her time with her children and grandchildren. She died on December 19, 1955.
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