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Maine Women Writers Collection

Marie Peary Stafford (1893-1978)

by Jessie Pinkham

Biographical Note:

Marie Peary Stafford was born in Northwest Greenland on September 12, 1893. She was the daughter of Rear Admiral Robert E. Peary, discoverer of the North Pole. Marie became known world-wide as the "Snow baby", a name given to her by the Greenland natives who had never seen a white baby before.

In 1909, Marie was 16 years old when her father, Admiral Peary, discovered the North Pole and overnight, the "snow baby" became the beautiful daughter of a major international hero. In 1914, Marie became the first debutante of 1914. Although this was an important title, Marie felt the need to further herself and, in 1916, Marie took a secretarial course.

In 1917, Marie married Edward Stafford, a Washington attorney. During the next three years, they had two sons. In 1920, Marie's father, Admiral Peary, died. Marie, in 1932, set sail once again to the Arctic to erect a monument in honor of her father and to memorialize his accomplishments.

Marie was also an important figure on the political end. During World War II, Marie was part of the Danish-American Commission. The commission stabilized the dollar as well as establishing security for Denmark and Greenland. Marie was awarded the Liberation Medal by the Danish government for her contributions to the Commission. In 1950, Marie was awarded the Henry B. Bryant medal for her contributions to geographical information.

In 1955, Marie's husband and her mother both died. Subsequent to their deaths, Marie had moved to Bowdoin, Maine and, in 1967, she married her second husband, William Kuhne, a retired sea man. Her son, Edward Stafford is still living, and has recently contributed a series of correspondence to the Stafford collection. Marie lived the remainder of her life in Bowdoin until her death in 1978.

Marie is the author of five books and many articles as well as holding an honorary Master of Arts Degree from Bowdoin College. 

Description of Collection:

Historical information found in The Maine Women Writer's Collection on Marie Perry Stafford includes:
Lecture Notes dated 1931
Correspondence from Josephine Peary to Marie dated 1904
Letters to Mrs. Robert Peary dated 1917 to 1918
Magazine articles dated 1932
Unidentified Introduction and Epilog
Book reviews dated 1930
News paper clippings with various dates
Honoris Causa- Bowdoin College dated 1949 to 1952
National Geographic Society Gold Medal - Press Release Invitation
1917-Wedding Invitation and guest list
Letters written by Marie Stafford Peary to Professor Hobbs dates from 1929 to 1942
Childhood basket and hat (seen in photograph).

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Snow baby, circa 1895 from the collection

'Snow baby', circa 1895 from the collection

Marie in native dress, circa 1899 from the collection

Marie in native dress, circa 1899 from the collection

Marie at speaking engagement, September, 1933 from the collection

Marie at speaking engagement, September, 1933 from the collection