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"Part of resilience is finding joy, finding beauty, finding love."

— George Takei, Actor, Author, Director, Activist

"Part of resilience is finding joy, finding beauty, finding love."

— George Takei, Actor, Author, Director, Activist

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ONLINE—UNLADYLIKE2020: Louise Arner Boyd—First Woman to Lead Arctic Expeditions

April 21, 2020April 22, 2020


Louise Arner Boyd, first woman to lead Arctic expeditions. Original artwork by Amelie Chabannes. Releasing weekly on the American Masters and UNLADYLIKE2020 websites starting in March, Unladylike2020 is a multimedia series consisting of a one-hour special for broadcast and 26 digital short films featuring courageous, little-known and diverse female trailblazers from the turn of the 20th century. These women achieved many firsts, including earning an international pilot’s license, becoming a bank president, founding a hospital, fighting for the desegregation of public spaces, exploring the Arctic, opening a film studio, and singing opera at Carnegie Hall. Presenting history in a bold new way, American Masters — Unladylike2020, produced and directed by Charlotte Mangin, brings these incredible stories back to life through original artwork and animation, rare historical archival footage, and interviews with descendants, historians and accomplished modern women who reflect upon the influence of these pioneers. On April 22,  watch the story of Louise Arner Boyd (1887­–1972), who was born in San Rafael, California, participated in seven expeditions to the Arctic between 1926 and 1941, and was the first American woman to lead an Arctic expedition. As a self-taught polar scientist and photographer, she mapped previously uncharted regions of Greenland, filmed and photographed topography, sea ice, glacial features, land formations, measured ocean depths, and collected plant specimens. Her use of an aerial mapping camera to document the glacial landscape enabled her to produce a mosaic of high-quality photos that served as the basis for new detailed maps of the region. A fjord in East Greenland is named “Miss Boyd Land” in her honor, and her photographs of glaciers provide critical information to climate change researchers today. She was the first woman to be elected to the council of the American Geographical Society and became the first woman to fly over the North Pole in a plane that she chartered in 1955. Interviewees: biographer Durlynn Anema, author of Louise Arner Boyd: Arctic Explorer; Lorie Karnath, founder of the Explorer’s Museum and former president of the Explorer’s Club; climate change scientist Twila Moon, researcher at the National Snow & Ice Data Center. A vast interactive website features the stories of over 100 diverse and extraordinary women from the turn of the 20th century who broke barriers and achieved tremendous professional heights. Read on for more about this project, and PBS’ summer-long celebration of female trailblazers here. UNLADYLIKE 2020 is supported by California Humanities through a California Documentary Project grant.


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