Date of Award

Spring 2011

Project Type


Program or Major

Liberal Studies

Degree Name

Master of Arts

First Advisor

Jeffrey Bolster


The Lady Franklin Bay Expedition of 1881--1884 to the polar arctic was one of the first U.S. government sponsored foreign expeditions to incorporate the new medium of photography. The official photographer George W. Rice produced over one hundred images recording the progress of the project, including the landscape, scientific work, artifacts and indigenous people. These served multiple functions of acquisition, publicity and propaganda to promote the American program of expanding its sphere of influence beyond the borders of the United States. This thesis is the first complete catalog of the Rice photographs, drawn from all of the known collections, annotated and placed in the context of nineteenth century arctic photography, polar exploration and American ambition.