Born to great wealth, Louise Arner Boyd had the options that a life without financial concerns promised. In place of comfort, she chose the challenges of sub-zero temperatures, scientific exploration, polar bear, and cramped living quarters. Starting in the 1920s, she took the highly unusual path of becoming an explorer of the Arctic. In recognition of her endeavors, a portion of Greenland was named “Miss Boyd Land,” and a waterway was named “Louise Boyd Bank.” During her lifetime, Ms. Boyd went on seven arctic expeditions by ship and dog sled, conducting scientific research, including geological studies to determine the origin and history of the fjords and glaciated valleys in Greenland. She photographed all aspects of her expeditions, often taking the first pictures of the native people and the region’s studies.
The maps provided to the expeditions were often incorrect. She corrected these errors and new maps were drawn. Plant ecology studies, collection of botanical specimens, the analysis of cloud formations and water conditions, and recording the depths of the region’s waterways were all parts of her expeditions. During World War II, her knowledge of the Arctic area made her an invaluable resource to the American Navy, and she also served as a consultant to military intelligence throughout much of the war.
She received numerous awards and honors for her distinguished scientific work. At age sixty-seven, Louise Boyd chartered an American DC4 and, flying from Oslo, Norway, became the first woman to fly over the North Pole. Ms. Boyd was also a generous patron of the arts, supporting numerous organizations throughout her life.