|Birth: ||May 22, 1863|
Prince George's County
|Death: ||Dec. 19, 1955|
Arctic traveler and renowned author, Josephine Diebitsch was born on a farm near Forestville, Maryland, daughter of German immigrants Magdalene Augusta Schmid and Professor Herman Diebitsch. Her father was a linguist employed by the Smithsonian Institution. She was educated in the District of Columbia, and during her father's final illness, filled his position at the Smithsonian. While there she met Navy Lieutenant Robert Edwin Peary, and after a courtship of some years they were married on 11 Aug 1888. Twenty-one years later, with her inestimable help, he led the first expedition to reach the North Pole.
She had the distinction of being "the first woman to take part in an Arctic exploration," and "the first white woman to winter in the Arctic." In June 1891 she accompanied her husband aboard the Kite to northern Greenland, where they wintered midway between the Arctic Circle and the North Pole. She also accompanied Peary on his polar expeditions of 1893-94, and 1897. Her daughter Marie was born September 12, 1893, in Greenland.
On another trek north to meet her husband in 1900, her ship Windward was damaged by an iceberg, became stranded, and she, her daughter and the ship's crew spent the winter at a camp 300 miles south of her husband's. She traveled north again in 1902.
After Peary retired in 1911 as a Rear Admiral, they spent winters at their home in Washington and summers on Eagle Island, Maine, with their two children. The Admiral died in 1920 and Mrs. Peary survived him by several decades, defending her husband's legacy to the end.
Her books included My Arctic Journal (1893) recounting her experiences during the 1891-92 expedition, The Snow Baby (1901), and Children of the North (1903). Her personal accomplishments were recognized in 1955 by the National Geographic Society, which awarded her its highest honor, the gold Medal of Achievement. Her papers are preserved in the Maine Women Writers Collection, University of New England, Portland, Maine.
Herman Diebitsch (1818 - 1883)
Magdalene Diebitsch (1833 - 1925)
Robert Edwin Peary (1856 - 1920)
Marie Ahnighito Peary Stafford (1893 - 1978)*
Josephine Diebitsch Peary (1863 - 1955)
Marie Flora Diebitsch (1874 - 1969)*
Arlington National Cemetery
Plot: Section 8, Site 15
Created by: Paul Hays
Record added: Nov 30, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 81232339