Pocket watch likely carried by Matthew Henson in 1908-1909 Arctic expedition

  • Image for Pocket watch likely carried by Matthew Henson in 1908-1909 Arctic expedition
  • Image for Pocket watch likely carried by Matthew Henson in 1908-1909 Arctic expedition
  • Image for Pocket watch likely carried by Matthew Henson in 1908-1909 Arctic expedition
3 images
Manufactured by
American Watch Company
Used by
Henson, Matthew A., American, 1866 - 1955
Subject of
Henson, Matthew A., American, 1866 - 1955
Peary, Robert E., American, 1856 - 1920
Medium
nickel , metal and glass
Dimensions
H x W x D: 3 1/4 × 2 1/4 × 3/4 in. (8.3 × 5.7 × 1.9 cm)
Type
pocket watches
Place used
North Pole, Arctic
Greenland, Cape Morris Jessup, North and Central America
Place made
Waltham, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States, North and Central America
Date
1888-1889; inscribed 1908 or 1909
Caption
An engraved watch that is believed to be the watch carried by Matthew Henson (1866-1955) on his exploration of the North Pole along with Adm. Robert E. Peary from July 6, 1908 to April 23, 1909. Henson is an iconic figure among American pioneering explorers. During the 1908-09 expedition led by Admiral Peary (whom he assisted on several Arctic expeditions over a 20-year period), Henson became the first man to reach the North Pole. For his achievements, Henson received the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1944. In 2000, the National Geographic Society awarded Henson the Hubbard Metal – its highest award.
Description
This pocket watch belonged to Matthew Henson and is engraved with his initials. The watch is silver in color and the words [R.E. PEARY / NORTH POLE / EXPEDITION / 1908] are engraved on the front in an Edwardian style. Henson's initials [M.A. HENSON] are engraved on the side. The watch has a white face with black hands and roman numerals. The watchmaker's name [Am. Watch Co. / WALTHAM] is printed in the top center of the face. The inside of the watch is engraved with the watchmaker's name [American Waltham Watch Co.] and the serial number [3639616].
Topic
African American
Men
Nature
Science
Technology
United States--History--1865-1921
Credit Line
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Object number
2017.31
Restrictions & Rights
No Known Copyright Restrictions
See more items in
National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Classification
Adornment
Tools and Equipment-Personal use
Data Source
National Museum of African American History and Culture

NOTE: Cataloging is an ongoing process and we may update this record as we conduct additional research and review. If you have more information about this object, please contact us at NMAAHCDigiTeam@si.edu.