Brief History of the Society
The Antarctican Society was founded in 1960 as a not-for-profit educational society by a bunch of devoted Antarcticans in the District of Columbia. Nearly all the members had been in Antarctica during the International Geophysical Year, 1957-58, and wished to unite socially to continue their camaraderie. Communications in the beginning was limited to announcements of meetings in the Washington area. After several years, periodic Newsletters were written at the whim of the incumbent president. The authors of somewere Henry Dater, a civilian historian who worked for the US Navy. Other Newsletters were put out by Society member Dr. Ken Bertrand, a geographer and faculty member of Catholic University. Dr. Bertrand eventually wrote one the definitive histories of the United States' participation in Antarctica, Americans in Antarctica 1775-1948.
But there was no regularity as to when one would be published, strictly being left up to the call of the president. However, in the fall of 1978, it was decided that with each speaker, an accompanying Newsletter would be published. Since that time, at least four, sometimes five, most often six Newsletters were published each year. Paul Dalrymple, micrometeorologist in Antarctica during the IGY, took upon himself to put together the Newsletters. He was ably assisted by Ruth J. Siple, widow of the famed explorer/scientist, Paul Siple. The Society operated out of Ruth’s home in Arlington, Virginia, and the team of Dalrymple-Siple functioned for over twenty years, putting out over a hundred Newsletters. But there was one exception, one issue was prepared by Elle Tracy, a former Antarctican living in the Pacific Northwest.
But the team of Dalrymple-Siple began to disintegrate in the mid 1990s, as first Dalrymple moved to the state of Maine to take care of an aging mother. Then Ruth’s started to lose her eyesight from macular degeneration. The October 2000 issue announced that the duo would hang on for two more years. Kristin Larsen, a former McMurdoite of several seasons, came into the picture as a part-time writer under the pen name of Penguin Prattle. She subsequently wrote and produced several Newsletters on her own. However, Dalrymple never exactly faded from the picture, and was soon back doing the Newsletters solo from his retreat in Maine whileRuth remained the Honorary President of the Antarctican Society. Her death at the age of 92 was announced in the Newsletter of,March 2004, culminating over twenty-five years of almost daily commitment to the Antarctican Society and its NewslettersShe had become truly the First Lady of the Antarctic.
This collection of Newsletters is probably one of the best sources of information on members of the Byrd Antarctic Expeditions because of Ruth’s devotion to many members of the Byrd expeditions who frequented her home. Special contributions by well-known Antarcticans are included in these pages. Obituaries of many famous Antarcticans are sprinkled throughout the pages. So one can safely say that these Newsletters are a wealth of Antarctic history from the International Geophysical Year, 1957-58tothe beginning of the next International Polar Year, 2007-2008. And, hopefully, all written in a light, readable fashion, one that can be enjoyed.