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Grenfell Campus Memorial University

Summer of Research

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EXPLORING THE MAN BEHIND THE LEGEND
"The man himself might have appeared on Wheetabix boxes but he is hard to get to know. He carefully managed his image."

Legendary ship Captain Bob Bartlett had a lifelong love affair with the Arctic; Dr. Maura Hanrahan's lifelong fascination with Bartlett began when, as a child, she spent two weeks in his home town of Brigus, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Throughout her career, Dr. Hanrahan has written numerous articles on Bartlett.

"In doing research on him, I could not help but notice that Bartlett was largely depicted as a one-dimensional figure, a kind of Boys" Own hero," she said. "This couldn't possibly reflect the person he was so there was clearly a gap in the Bartlett literature."

Dr. Hanrahan hopes to fill that gap and shed light upon the life and character of a glorified, but not well understood, figure in Newfoundland and polar history. "The man himself might have appeared on Wheetabix boxes but he is hard to get to know. He carefully managed his image," said Hanrahan.

She has been researching Captain Bartlett for almost a decade and the project has become an important part of her work at Grenfell Campus. In that time, her archival study has taken her to the Explorers Club in New York and to Bowdoin College in Maine, the institution to which Bartlett chose to donate his papers. She has searched archives in England at Greenwich and Cambridge Universities, and The Rooms, the Centre for Newfoundland Studies, and the Newfoundland and Labrador Historic Sites Association have all shared their Bartlett documents with her. Captain Bartlett was famous in his day so there is a wealth of newspaper articles accessible from the New York Times and news publications from other countries, as well as a rich photographic record.

She has also interviewed many people, including a man in Brigus who worked under Captain Bartlett on the Effie Morrissey, a schooner skippered by the captain that made many important scientific expeditions to the Arctic. For Dr. Hanrahan, this personal account of Captain Bartlett was a highlight of her research.

With an abundance of archival material gathered, now it's time to pull it all together. Dr. Hanrahan is writing a book that will be informed by academic research and theory, which she hopes will also appeal to an educated public readership. The book will be published by McGill-Queens University Press.


Photo Credit:
National Archives of Canada (PA74047)
and the Historic Sites Association
of Newfoundland and Labrador

Photo Credit:
National Archives of Canada (PA74047)
and the Historic Sites Association
of Newfoundland and Labrador

Photo Credit:
National Archives of Canada (PA74047)
and the Historic Sites Association
of Newfoundland and Labrador

FUNDERS

  • Memorial University Institute for Social and Economic Research
  • City of St. John's Arts Jury
  • Grenfell Campus, Memorial University Start-up Grant
  • Grenfell Campus, Memorial University Vice-President's Research Grant
  • Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council
  • Researcher's own funds

COLLABORATORS

  • Maria Dussan, Humanities student

Being Present in Health Care

Be here now. Do what you are doing when you’re doing it. Be where you are when you’re there. The idea of staying present as a tool for self-management in stressful situations is one that Dr. Michael Newton has been teaching students and community groups for years. [READ MORE...]                     

The Boreal Ecosystem Research Initiative

What’s in the soil, water and air around us can tell a story about the ecosystem we depend upon. Scientific research can help write those stories, but it can’t happen without a laboratory. And the more advanced the laboratory, the more insightful the research results will be. [READ MORE...]                       

Recognizing Mi'kmaq Soldiers

Over the years, Dr. Maura Hanrahan has heard members of the Newfoundland Mi’kmaq community lament the fact that their grandfathers and great-grandfathers served in World War I, but were not recognized as Mi’kmaq soldiers. But how many Newfoundland Mi'kmaq participated in World War I? [READ MORE...]