John Ross

British, 1777–1856

Snow Cottages of the Boothians, illustration from Narrative of a Second Voyage in Search of a North-west Passage, and of a Residence in the Arctic Regions during the Years 1829-1833. London: A.W. Webster, 1835.
Special Collections, University of Washington Libraries, Seattle

During John Ross’s Northwest Passage expedition, his crew became trapped by the Arctic ice for four years. They survived thanks to indigenous peoples’ skills and knowledge. The boredom of wintering in the Arctic was relieved by visits to and from the Inuit. Despite their role in keeping his men alive, Ross called them “barbarians.”

Although early explorers called native people Eskimos, Ross named them Boothians after his friend Felix Booth, who financed his expedition. In Snow Cottages of the Boothians, he documents an explorer greeting the Inuit, who emerge from a cluster of igloos. Ross made more than 80 drawings and watercolors to accompany his expedition account.