Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Marsely Kehoe, Mellon Scholars/Art History

Document Type


Event Date



The Michigan Polar Bear expedition saw Allied forces leading a controversial excursion into Northern Russia during the concluding years of World War I. Despite thousands of soldiers being sent to interfere with the Russian Civil War, the Polar Bear Expedition has been lost from collective memory. We publicly inquired about the expedition, then combined this research with a found scholarly consensus about the lack of cognizance relating to the events. This revealed a disconnect, which led us to inquire as to the nature and origin of its historical omission. Our primary sources of research focused on the oral histories of veterans located in the Joint Archives of Holland. After analyzing the first person accounts of the soldiers, followed in turn by the reaction of their respective communities, we created a detailed description of this expedition’s impact on the greater Holland area. Understanding this multi-generational oversight will bring forth a greater argument for the importance of people to continue teaching and learning about this significant piece of history.