The Koch Family Papers - Part 1

Book from GEUS gives new insight into the life, work and aspirations of Greenland geo-explorer Lauge Koch

Author: Peter R. Dawes

Part 1: New insight into the life, work and aspirations of Greenland geo-explorer Lauge Koch (1892-1964).   

Lauge Koch was involved in Greenland affairs for 50 years making a profound impact on Arctic geoscience. His personal papers were deposited in The Danish National Archives (Rigsarkivet) in the 1960s but a collection of material remained in family care. This collection has now been released by the family and it is discussed for the first time in a book under the name "The Koch Family Papers", published by GEUS.

The material falls into five categories: (1) Diverse papers (letters, maps, drawings, manuscripts, expedition plans, exploration and drilling plans), (2) Field notebooks (diaries, logbooks, calendars), (3) Photographic material (prints, negatives, lecture slides, cinefilm), (4) Sound recordings (cassettes and spools) and (5) Newspaper/magazine clippings.

The collection spans Koch's adult life from his first visit to Greenland in 1913 to his last in 1959, as well as his later years including the fateful North American lecture tour in 1964.

This book provides a summary of the items and places some of the documents in their historical context. They cast new light on many events in Koch's life and they allow at least one chapter of Danish polar exploration history to the rewritten. This is Knud Rasmussen's ill-fated 2nd Thule Expedition 1916-18 on which Koch participated as a student.

The author geologist Peter R. Dawes - emeritus research scientist at GEUS - has been working with Greenland affairs for more than 50 years. While geoscience has been his foremost occupation, the history of polar exploration and geographical discovery takes a close second place.

During several expeditions to North Greenland in the 1960s, Dawes was introduced to the pioneer work of Lauge Koch who dog-sledged in the region between 1916 and 1923 producing the first regional geological and topographical maps of northern Greenland. His admiration for this eminent accomplishment and Koch's later work in East Greenland has been lifelong and, through contact with Koch's family, it has resulted in several articles on his work and life.