Mrs. Josephine Diebitsch Perry, 1863-1955

Publication Year: 1956.



Mrs. Robert E. Peary, who died December 19 at the age of 92, was the last remaining original member of the American Alpine Club. Her passing reminds us of the dual interests that led to the formation of the Club in 1902: polar exploration as well as mountaineering.

Mrs. Peary’s father was Professor Herman H. Diebitsch of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. She married Peary, a young naval engineer, in 1888 and three years later accompanied him on the first of his several expeditions to the Arctic. Her expertness with the rifle helped to keep the expeditions in meat and furs. Many of the fur garments for her husband and other members she helped to make and keep in repair. She was associated with his expeditions of 1891, 1892, 1893, and 1894, and led the Peary Relief Expedition of 1900-1901 and 1902. In 1893 her daughter, nicknamed the "Snow Baby” by the Eskimos and now Mrs. Marie Ahnighto Stafford, was born only 900 miles from the North Pole. Admiral Peary (also an original member of the Club and Honorary from 1904) who finally reached the North Pole on April 6, 1909, died in 1920. He often said that it was his wife’s constant inspiration and help that led to the success of his arctic expeditions.

H. S. H., Jr.