Furlong, Charles Wellington, 1874-1967Alternative names
Member, United States delegation, Paris Peace Conference, 1918-1919; member, Tacna-Arica Commission, 1926.
From the description of Charles Wellington Furlong papers, 1917-1963. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 754869105
Graduated, Massachusetts Normal Art School
1901- 1902: Student, Cornell, Harvard, Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris
1896- 1904: Faculty, Cornell
Author, The Gateway to the Sahara
Author, Tripoli in Barbary
1914- 1918: General Staff, U.S. Army
1918- 1919: Member, American Peace delegation, Paris
Special Military aide to President Woodrow Wilson
Military observer, intelligence officer in the Balkans, Near East and Middle East
Author, Let 'er Buck
Member, Tacna-Arica Commission
From the guide to the Charles Wellington Furlong Papers, 1917-1963, (Hoover Institution Archives)
Charles Wellington Furlong (1874-1967) was an explorer, writer, lecturer, an artist, a college professor, a scientist, a cowboy, a collector, and a foreign correspondent to name but a few of his ‘trades.’
He was born in Cambridge, MA, and educated at the Massachusetts Normal Art School and other colleges and academies. He was on the faculty of Cornell University, 1896-1904 and 1906-1910. Much of his career was spent on expeditions to various parts of the world for scientific or literary purposes. He was in North Africa, 1904-1905; Tierra del Fuego, 1907-1908; and Venezuela in 1910. In 1915 he was a member of an expedition to the West African islands for the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology (the Kitty A expedition). During World War I he was an observer with American and Allied forces in the Near East. In 1912-1913 and again in 1920, he was in the American West, observing and participating in rodeos. He later traveled in Africa, the Near East, and South America.
He was married twice, in 1899 to Eva C. Earll and then in 1933 to Edith Virginia Calista Spinney. Furlong had two children by Earll, Roger Wellington Furlong and Ruth Earll Furlong. Roger became a businessman and Ruth was principal of the Ethical Culture School in New York City.
Furlong began his career as an artist, receiving formal education at the Massachusetts Normal Art School and L’École des Beaux Arts in France. He was a private art instructor and then became head of the Art Department at Cornell. Throughout his career he continued to paint. He created botanical illustrations, the originals of which are at the Hopkins Gallery at Dartmouth College, and painted scenes from North Africa and the sub-Antarctic that hang in major museums.
He became an explorer in 1904, traveling to Morocco and Tripoli. He was pursed by a notorious bandit, and became the first American to explore the Tripolitan Sahara. He discovered the century-old wreck of the frigate U.S.S. Philadelphia, the sinking of which had led to a peace treaty between the U.S. and Tripoli. Furlong’s book Gateway to the Sahara was published in 1909.
Harper’s Magazine funded an expedition to Tierra del Fuego in 1907-1908, where Furlong, the first American to cross the inland area, botanized, collected ethnological artifacts and data, explored, mapped, and created navigational charts of the region. His ethnological research led him to a friendship with Vilhjamur Stefansson, an ethnological expert of the Artic regions, and the two developed a theory of migration based on physical similarities between the Eskimos and the Tierra del Fuegians. Furlong eventually served as assistant curator of the Vilhjamur Stefansson Arctic Collection at Dartmouth, and contributed his own papers on Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia to that institution.
Charles W. Furlong traveled more in South America in 1910-1911, pursuing ethnological research in South American museums, traversing the Dutch Guinea wilderness and was, again, the first American to travel from the Oronoco River across the pampas of Venezuela. The rigor of his travels affected his health and when he returned to the United States, he went West to recover, following the example of his good friend, Theodore Roosevelt.
He lived and worked on ranches in Oregon and Montana. While restoring his health, he was also studying the cowboy ethnography and that of the Crow, Blackfeet and Umatilla tribes. Hearing of the first Pendleton Round-Up in 1914, Furlong and his friends rode almost a hundred miles to attend. Challenged to demonstrate that he was no longer a dude, Furlong entered the Wild Bull Riding contest and stuck for a record 12½ seconds on the back of the notorious Sharkey, winning the championship and setting a longstanding record. His cowboy days and Pendleton experience were documented in his 1921 book, Let ‘er Buck: The Passing of the American West. Universal Studios made a silent movie from the book in 1925 but it no longer survives. The book inspired publisher George P. Putnam to convene a “Rough Riters” tour in the 1920s, bringing writers through the West and to the Round-Up. Furlong served as Grand Marshall of the Westward Ho! Parade in 1966, and donated some of his paraphernalia to the Round-Up Museum.
In 1915, Harper’s sponsored another expedition, this time to the West African islands aboard the schooner Kitty H, in conjunction with the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology. The Lusitania sank during the expedition’s voyage across the Atlantic and Europe plunged into war. As an officer of the Massachusetts Naval Brigade Furlong quietly offered his services to the U.S. government, and began a series of scientific expeditions that also provided military and political intelligence. On another Harper’s expedition to the Azores and Canary islands, Furlong also engaged in yet another branch of research, discovering unknown records of Columbus’ visit to the islands on his way to “discover” America.
When the U.S. entered World War I, Furlong began open military service, creating the Geographic Military Intelligence Division. He produced a series of tactical field handbooks for officers on Mexico, Siberia, and Russia that provided invaluable data about the oil production facilities and potential of each region. In 1918 he was named a member of the American delegation to the Paris Peace Conference, and served as a military aide to President Wilson. Furlong’s reports on geopolitical and economic situations helped shape the talks.
Charles Furlong was recalled to the U.S. for appointment to the War College during 1923-1924, and was the first of three officers chosen from 80,000 to attend a special course. He served as a Reserve officer for 34 years, attaining the rank of colonel. Records related to his military career are housed at the Hoover Institute at Stanford University. (Furlong had an extraordinary circle of acquaintances and was a friend and admirer of Herbert Hoover.)
In 1919 Charles Furlong went to Rome as a military attaché, providing intelligence about the Middle East and the Balkans. He served as an emissary to the Sheik of Senoussi, King Faisal, Major General Sir Harry Watson, General Sir Archibald Wavell, and Field Marshall Allenby, and knew T.E. Lawrence. In addition to his diplomatic and intelligence activities in the Middle East, Furlong also fought with desert bandits and traveled with tribesmen. He won respect and honors from people and governments in the region. In 1925 he helped establish a voting system in Tacona, Africa, personally designing ballots and setting up polling places in remote areas. He returned to the Middle East on a special mission to Turkey, and attended the fiftieth anniversary of the Republic of Turkey as an honored guest. Charles Furlong continued to be an active emissary to the Middle East and a valued consultant through the end of the Second World War.
In 1925-1926 Furlong traveled in South America, settling boundary disputes between Peru and Chile, hunting for treasure, and preserving the birthplace of Simon Bolivar. A later expedition to French Guiana inspired him to write a report condemning the conditions of the penal colony on Devil’s Island that eventually led to the closing of the prison and to penal reform. His reports on the Magellan region led to the establishment of a tourist cruise to South American, and helped protect its wool industry during World War II.
In 1929-1930 he explored Kenya, Tanganyika, the Belgian Congo, Uganda, and the Sudan, the first white man to live among the pygmies of the Ituri Forest. He found the last surviving member of the Stanley expedition and was given Stanley artifacts for his collections.
Somehow Furlong also found the time to write many articles and books, and to lecture extensively on a variety of subjects to learned societies and to cruise ship passengers.
Charles Wellington Furlong was committed to scholarly inquiry in many forms. Correspondence with the University of Oregon Libraries documents that Furlong was instrumental in arranging the donation of his teacher, Henry Turner Bailey’s, collection to the Library, and made other suggestions in support of strengthening collections related to his own wide interests, such as conservative politics. Furlong was a religious man who mentioned religious sources in every one of his lectures.
Furlong’s brother, Leonard, served in the Philippine Constabulary. Charles’ donation of his brother’s papers established the core of a Philippine collection at the University of Oregon.
From the guide to the Charles Wellington Furlong papers, 1896-1967, (Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries)
|Place Name||Admin Code||Country|
|Tierra del Fuego (Argentina and Chile)|
|Patagonia (Argentina and Chile)|
|Indians of North America--Oregon--Photographs|
|Indians of North America--Northwest, Pacific|
|World War, 1914-1918--Territorial questions|
|Indians of North America--Oregon|
|Authors, American--20th century|
|World War, 1914-1918|
|World War, 1914-1918--Peace|