Barbara Hillary was born in New York City on June 12, 1931, and raised in Harlem. She attended New School University in New York, going on to become a nurse.
Surviving lung cancer, she became interested in Arctic travel during her retirement. Raising over $25,000 to fund her expedition to the Arctic, on April 23, 2007, Barbara Hillary became the first known Black woman and oldest person (at age 75 years) to reach the North Pole. Five years later, she reached the South Pole on January 6, 2011, at the age of 79.
- Barbara Hillary. n.d. “Barbara Hillary Biography.”
- Barr, Meghan. 2016. “75-year-old cancer survivor skis to North Pole,” Seattle Times.
- “Barbara Hillary, First African American Woman To Reach The North Pole, Dies At 88,” TODAY, YouTube video, 2:42, December 1, 2019.