Robert Stein (explorer)

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Map of the Arctic, by Robert Stein (1896)

Dr. Robert Stein (1857–1917) was a Prussian–American arctic explorer, writer and interpreter of Eskimo languages.

Stein was born in 1857 in Rengersdorf (Krosnowice), Silesia. He began to study with intentions to go into the clergy, but eventually obtained a medical degree and learned 12 languages. In 1892, he and his brother Richard bought land in Maryland, US, including Harmony Hall, a 1760 manor house. This spawned a small settlement in Prince George's County, Maryland, also called "Silesia", with a population today of around 40 people.[1]

Stein participated in several Arctic expeditions, and was interpreter of Eskimo languages for Admiral Robert Edwin Peary. He wrote a proposal for an expedition in 1894 to explore Ellesmere Island and rescue the lost Björling-Kallstenius Expedition. While it is unclear if his proposed expedition ever took place,[2] he did lead an earlier expedition there from 1899 to 1901, overwintering at Fort Magnesia, near Cape Sabine. Ultimately the expedition was eclipsed by the better funded and equipped expedition led by Otto Sverdrup.[3]

Depressed by the First World War and pessimistic about future world peace, Stein committed suicide in 1917. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered on the family's land in Maryland.[1]


  1. ^ a b Eugene L. Meyer (September 1, 2001). "Prussian Echoes in a Handed-Down Hamlet". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 8, 2011. 
  2. ^ "List of Smithsonian Expeditions, 1878–1917". Smithsonian Institution Archives. Retrieved April 8, 2011. 
  3. ^ William Barr (April 1982). "Robert Stein's expedition to Ellesmere Island 1899–1901". Polar Record. Cambridge University Press. pp. 253–274. Retrieved April 8, 2011. 

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