Jørgen Brønlund

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Jørgen Brønlund

Jørgen Brønlund (14 December 1877 – November 1907[1]), was a Greenlandic polar explorer,[2] educator, and catechist.[3] He participated in two Danish expeditions to Greenland in the early 20th century.

Early years[edit]

Brønlund, an Inuit and the son of a hunter,[4] was born in Ilulissat, Greenland, then known as Jakobshavn, on 14 December 1877. He was a childhood friend of Knud Rasmussen whose father was a priest in Jakobshavn. Trained as a teacher,[5] Brønlund graduated in 1901 from Nuuk College and was employed as a catechist at a trading post near the Nuup Kangerlua estuary.


Along with Rasmussen, Harald Moltke, and Ludvig Mylius-Erichsen, Brønlund was a member of the 1902-1903 Danish Literary Greenland Expedition.[6] At its conclusion, Brønlund went to Denmark. Here, he studied drawing with Kristian Zahrtmann and taught in Askov at Denmark's largest folk high school.

An expert interpreter, one of Brønlund's responsibilities during the 1906 Danish Expedition of Northeast Greenland under Mylius-Erichsen was to keep a travel diary,[7] and to drive the dogs.[8] He died in November 1907 of hunger and freezing while travelling back from the Independence Fjord and attempting to return to their base camp. He was found in a crevasse at 79-Fiord (named after the 79th latitude) on 13 March 1908 along with his diary that recounted the fate of Mylius-Erichsen and the expedition's cartographer, Niels Peter Høeg Hagen, both of whom died before Brønlund. He was buried where he was found.[9]

The last entry of his diary, the meaning of which has been disputed, reads as follows:

Died 79 Fjord after attempt travelling home over the inland ice in month of November. I am coming here at decreasing moonlight and could not further due to frostbitten feet and to the darkness. Bodies of others are found in the middle of the fjord in front of glacier (about 2½ miles). Hagen died on 15 November and Mylius around 10 days later. Jørgen Brønlund


The 172 page diary is archived at the Royal Danish Library.[10] A memorial stone erected in Copenhagen's harbor quotes the diary's last lines.[5]

Jørgen Brønlund Fjord in Peary Land is named in his honor.[11] The one hundred year anniversary of his birth was commemorated by the issue of a Greenlandic postal stamp.[12]

Also by a medallion of G (Eugene L. Daub), Sculptor, Pennsylvania:

Jørgen Brønlund Medal 100th Birthday


  1. ^ Mirsky, Jeannette (1998). To the Arctic!: The Story of Northern Exploration from Earliest Times (2 ed.). University of Chicago Press. p. 236. ISBN 0-226-53179-1. 
  2. ^ Bærenholdt, Jørgen Ole (2007). Coping with distances: producing nordic Atlantic societies. Berghahn Series. Berghahn Books. p. 157. ISBN 1-84545-290-9. 
  3. ^ Rasmussen, Knud; Herring, G.; Moltke, Harald Viggo (1908). The people of the polar north: a record. K. Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co. p. 70. 
  4. ^ Danish biographical dictionary, Volume 3 (1979), p. 38
  5. ^ a b "Jørgen Brønlund". gravsted.dk. Retrieved 5 October 2010. 
  6. ^ Geir O. Kløver, ed. (2009). Recall: Reflections of a Polar Explorer. Oslo, Norway: Fram Museum. p. 14. ISBN 978-82-8235-003-7. 
  7. ^ "The Ilulissat Ice Fjord". kulturarv.dk. Retrieved 5 October 2010. 
  8. ^ Greely, Adolphus Washington (1912). True tales of Arctic heroism in the New world. C. Scribner's sons. p. 364. 
  9. ^ Royal Scottish Geographical Society (1908). Scottish geographical magazine. 24. p. 548. 
  10. ^ "Jørgen Brønlund: Dagbog 1907" (in Danish). Det Kongelige Bibliotek. Retrieved 5 October 2010. 
  11. ^ Meroplankton in Jorgen Bronlund Fjord, North Greenland. Museum Tusculanum Press. 1984. ISBN 87-635-1159-2. 
  12. ^ "GREENLAND stamp 1977 Jørgen Brønlund". Retrieved 5 October 2010. 

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