Kennicott, Robert, 1835-1866Alternative names
Robert Kennicott (1835-1865?) and Henry Martyn Bannister (1844-1920) were naturalists and explorers of the Alaska Territory in the mid-1860's. Their discoveries, as publicized before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, contributed to the eventual purchase of Alaska by the United States in 1867.
From the description of Robert Kennicott-Henry M. Bannister Papers, 1857-1873. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 80783346
Robert Kennicott was born November 13, 1835 in New Orleans, Louisiana. He studied natural history as a youth and, in 1855, completed a comprehensive natural history survey of southern Illinois for the Illinois Central Railroad Company. In 1856, he helped found the Chicago Academy of Sciences and was largely responsible for its development. In 1865 the Western Union Telegraph Company hired Kennicott to assist in the survey of northwestern America for the purpose of constructing an overland telegraph line to the Old World. Kennicott died while on the expedition.
From the description of Extracts from diary and journals, 1864-1866. (Oregon Historical Society Research Library). WorldCat record id: 36471085
Naturalist who helped found the Chicago Academy of Science, he was educated mainly through his own work under the tutelage of Jared Kirtland and Spencer F. Baird and worked for the Smithsonian Institution. In 1857 he did a State Zoological Survey of southern Illinois. In 1859 he started a three year exploration of northern Canada and Alaska. In 1865 he began an expedition with the Overland Telegraph Company, again to Alaska and the Bering Strait, but he died before reaching Alaska. William Stimpson, his friend from the Smithsonian took over as director of the Chicago Academy of Sciences when Kennicott left for this expedition.
From the description of Papers, 1853-1882. (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library). WorldCat record id: 51747516
Robert Kennicott (1835-1866) was a nineteenth-century naturalist. His remarkable collecting activities significantly increased the foundational collections of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. He was born in northern Illinois. He started collecting at age 18 and at age 21 he became one of the founders of the Chicago Academy of Sciences. He came to the Smithsonian in 1958. He enjoyed being out in the field to observe and record everything he saw. In 1959, he embarked on a three-year expedition to northern Canada and Alaska. In 1865, he returned to Alaska to survey a telegraph route and died suddenly on May 31, 1866.
Smithsonian Institution Archives Field Book Project: Person : Description : rid_564_pid_EACP561
A naturalist and explorer, Robert Kennicott was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on November 13, 1835. Along with Henry M. Bannister, Kennicott explored the Alaska Territory in the mid-1860s. Their discoveries, as publicized before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, contributed to the eventual purchase of Alaska by the United States in 1867. Yet the exploration of Alaska was only the foremost of many achievements and discoveries by the two men.
While he was still quite young, his parents moved to Northbrook, Illinois, a town northwest of Chicago. Kennicott received little formal education, yet, with the guidance of his father and others, he was able to train himself in natural history. His progress was rapid. At the age of twenty, he made a comprehensive survey of southern Illinois for the Illinois Central Railroad; at twenty-one, he helped to establish the Chicago Academy of Science; at twenty-two, he established a natural history museum at Northwestern University. In the late 1850s, Kennicott joined the Smithsonian Institution as an explorer and cataloger. He traveled through British America (new Canada) as far north as Fort Yukon and returned to the Smithsonian with many new discoveries. As a reward for his achievements, he was made the curator of the Chicago Academy of Science and later chosen to head the Western Union Telegraph expedition to Alaska. He died of a heart attack at Fort Nulato, Alaska, while on this expedition.
From the guide to the Robert Kennicott (1835-1865?) and Henry M. Bannister (1844-1920) Papers, 1857-1905, (Northwestern University Archives)
Robert Kennicott was born in 1835 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Receiving little formal education, he trained himself in natural history under the guidance of his father, Dr John Kennicott, a renowned horticulturist and physician, and through his association with several scientists, including the naturalist, Spencer Baird. At the age of twenty, he made a comprehensive survey of southern Illinois for the Illinois Central Railroad and the following year became a co-founder of the Chicago Academy of Sciences, later establishing a natural history museum at Northwestern University in Illinois.
After joining the staff of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, Kennicott was appointed to lead the United States Zoological Expedition, 1859-1862, sent by the Smithsonian to make zoological collections from the trading posts in Mackenzie District and Yukon Territory. In addition to collecting a vast quantity of zoological specimens for the Smithsonian, Kennicott made many valuable observations of the fur trade.
In 1863, Kennicott was appointed curator of the Chicago Academy of Sciences, and two years later returned north to lead the Western Union Telegraph Expedition, 1865-1867. The expedition was instructed by Western Union Telegraph Company to survey a route for, and to construct, a telegraph line through Alaska by way of Yukon River and Seward Peninsula, in connection with plans to establish a telegraph link between America and Europe by way of Bering Strait. Kennicott was also to take charge of various scientific studies in Alaska. After arriving at Norton Sound in September 1865, Kennicott led an exploring party to the Nulato trading post on the Yukon. He died of a heart attack on 13 May 1866 at Nulato.
From the guide to the Robert Kennicott collection, 1865, (Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge)
|Place Name||Admin Code||Country|
|Yukon River (Yukon and Alaska)|
|Red River of the North|
|Arctic regions Discovery and exploration|
|Natural history museums|
|Natural history--Societies, etc|
|Medicine--Study and teaching|
|Telegraph lines--Design and construction|
|Natural history--Study and teaching|