In recognition of Black History Month, we are posting weekly about the life and accomplishments of the first person to set foot at the North Pole… It is Matt Henson Monday!

In 1891, Matthew Henson and Robert Peary sailed North together on the first of six Arctic expeditions that they would undertake together. The North Greenland Expedition of 1891-92 saw Matthew Henson as Peary’s “assistant,” a title that he would keep for all six Arctic expeditions. Henson proved his capability again in the Arctic, meeting the challenges of Arctic survival and exploration as well as (perhaps better than) any other southerner. Donald B. MacMillan described Henson as “the best field man aboard ship.”  Henson’s intelligence and talent were enhanced by the many skills he learned from the Inughuit men and women, whom Peary hired to support the expeditions. More on this next week!

Not only did Matthew Henson excel as an Arctic explorer, but he himself possessed a deep appreciation for the Arctic. As he wrote in his autobiographic account of the 1908-1909 North Pole expedition, A Negro Explorer at the North Pole:

There is an irresistible fascination about the regions of northernmost Grant Land that is impossible for me to describe. Having no poetry in my soul, and being somewhat hardened by years of experience in that inhospitable country, words proper to give you an idea of its unique beauty do no come to mind. Imagine gorgeous bleakness, beautiful blankness. It never seems broad, bright day, even in the middle of June, and the sky has different effects of the varying hours of morning and evening twilight from the first to the last peep of day… Artists have gone with us into the Arctic and I have heard them rave over the wonderful beauties of the scene, and I have seen them at work trying to reproduce some of it, with good results but with nothing like the effect of the original.

P.S. Check out this great audio clip on Henson from AudioFile Magazine.


Bowdoin College 

Location: Brunswick, Maine 

Okay, first off; I hate small towns. I’ve always been a city dweller and places like NYC and Boston are my ultimate goals. However, I will say that I adored Brunswick. Despite the smallness of the town, there was so much happening on campus that you were literally never bored. Also, important to note that Brunswick is a) right on the coast of Maine which as seen above is gorgeous and b) only a half hour out from Portland which is essentially a smaller Boston and a popular trip for Bowdoin students. 

Social Life: Work hard, play harder 

Bowdoin does not have Greek life but fear not; that doesn’t mean the campus is devoid of any social activities. When Bowdoin got rid of Greek life in the 90s they replaced it with college houses which are co-ed version of frats/sororities meant for upperclassmen. These houses are the social centers and home to the major campus parties. Also from I noticed during my weekend there, drinking is a popular sport pastime during the weekends for many students. But from what I noticed parties were friendly and the drinking culture was definitely a personal choice. But, as fun as the campus and people were, everyone was heavily dedicated to their classes and their futures. What I really loved about Bowdoin was the spirit of Work Hard, Play Hard where students are engaged in the classroom and actively working towards their career goals while still enjoying themselves and their college years. 

Classes: What the hell is a lecture hall..? 

Bowdoin is not you’re typical college because guess what….NO LECTURE HALLS. That’s right, no 500 person Intro to Chem class with the shady professor. Instead, you’ll have classes of 50 people or less focused on seminar style discussions where the teacher will actually know your name.

Campus: Go green or go home 

Absolutely, utterly gorgeous. Despite having a small student population of only 1800, the campus is vast full of rustic buildings and tall pine trees. It’s a New Englander’s dream come true. First years may not have cars but cars are essentially an unnecessary luxury here. Most students get by with bicycles or just by walking. 

Political Culture: #FeelTheBern

From what I saw and the people I met, Bowdoin was a heavily liberal college. Most students were (to my happiness) Bernie supporters and just Democrats in general. Now of course, this doesn’t mean there aren’t any conservatives but definitely a predominantly liberal school. 

Food: Better than homecooked meals 

#1 dining hall food in the country. Need I say more? Honestly though, the food was incredible. There are two dining halls, Thorne and Moulton Union, both are buffet style with an incredible variety of food that is not only healthy but accommodates a variety of dietary restrictions. Also, every Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, there’s this thing called Supersnacks where from 10pm to 1am they serve comfort food, i.e. nachos, grilled cheese, pizza, soft serve ice cream, cookies, chips and more. 

Academics: Books before boys 

Like I mentioned earlier, these students have fun but they also know when its time to buckle down and get to the library. People are extremely varied in their interests but the best part is that they genuinely love the classes they take. Bowdoin’s flexibility with classes was a huge thing I noticed and personally appreciated. 

Extracurriculars: Never a spare moment in B-town 

The small campus definitely doesn’t limit the student organizations! With over a 100 different clubs and a variety of independent learning opportunities, Bowdoin keeps you busy 24/7. From acapella groups to research opportunities to jobs to cultural organizations, there is always something happening; you just need to dodge the pine trees and find it. 

If you can’t already tell, I’m in love with Bowdoin despite barely having an interest before my visit. If you have any questions at all, feel free to message me!

-Ramya // futurecristinayang


Civil War Era Studies Programs- Gettysburg College  

Civil War Era Studies offers courses in all aspects of the Civil War Era including military, social, intellectual and political history. It allows for a thorough understanding of the era, and the minor program can be added to any student’s field of study.

The Civil War Institute At Manor College- PA

The Civil War Institute at Manor College is a formal organization dedicated to preserving a period of time in our history that to this day has had a profound social, economic, and religious impact on our nation. The Civil War comes to vivid life with diverse and specialized courses that delve deeper than the typical history course that focuses on names, dates, and events.

Bowdoin-Maine -The Civil War Era

History courses seek to interpret the meaning of the events surrounding the war, including its causes and consequences.  Courses in literature explore how American literature shaped Civil War history.  And studies in Art History focus on “reading” the material, artistic, and photographic evidence of the war.  Students engaged in Africana Studies will also find much of interest in this cluster of courses.  At each point, our concern is not simply with learning about the Civil War, but acquiring the skills necessary to work across these important disciplines.