Harriman Alaska Expedition 1899Alternative names
The expedition was sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History.
From the description of Photograph, [ca. 1899]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 155532497
The Expedition was financed by Edward Henry Harriman as a combination pleasure cruise and scientific expedition from May to August 1899.
From the description of Arctic field photographs, 1899. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 155517798
Originally proposed as a hunting expedition, Edward Harriman transformed his 1899 family vacation into a two month scientific exploring expedition to Alaska, with the advice of Clinton Hart Merriam, Chief of the Bureau of Biological Survey. Harriman and his family, accompanied expedition participants, traveled to Alaska aboard the S.S. George W. Elder. In the end, the work of the many researchers resulted in vast amounts of valuable scientific data, including the discovery of a new glacier and an array of floral and faunal specimens. Harriman, President of the Union Pacific Railroad, and the Washington Academy of Sciences collaborated to fund the entire expedition, and Harriman chose researchers with diverse scientific backgrounds in order to collaborate on all fields of plant, animal, and earth science. Many of the specimens collected were deposited in the United States National Museum, including large collections of birds and mollusks. The expedition left Seattle May 30th, headed for Cook Inlet, skirting the Peninsula and Aleutian Islands, Bering Sea, Bogoslof Volcano, Pribilof Islands, up to islands of St. Matthew and St. Lawrence. Parties landed at Glacier Bay, Yakutat Bay, Prince William Sound, Kodiak Island, Shumagin Islands. Collections included birds and mammals from “coastal regions”, shell and botanical fossils. Voyage destinations were determined by committee of heads of research (at Harriman’s request). After the expedition ended, the scientists published a 13 volume document called The Reports. Even though The Reports was the most comprehensive book on Alaskan botany at the time, the expedition was merely an investigation and was by no means a complete survey of Alaskan plant life. Scientific members of the expedition included: William H. Brewer (Yale University); John Burroughs (ornithologist and author); Wesley R. Coe (Assistant Professor of Comparative Anatomy, Yale University); Frederick Coville (US Department of Agriculture); William Healey Dall (US Geological Survey); Daniel G. Elliot (Curator of Zoology, Field Museum); Benjamin K. Emerson (Professor of Geology, Amherst College); B. E. Fernow (Dean, School of Forestry, Cornell University); A. K. Fisher (Ornithologist, US Biological Survey); Henry Gannett (Chief Geographer, US Geological Survey); G. K. Gilbert, (Geologist, US Geological Survey); George Bird Grinnell (Editor, Field and Stream); Thomas H. Kearney, Jr. (Botanist, US Department of Agriculture); Charles A Heeler, (Director, Museum California Academy of Sciences); Trevor Kincaid (Professor of Zoology, University of Washington); C. Hart Merriam (Chief, US Biological Survey); John Muir; Charles Palache (mineralogist, Harvard University); Robert Ridgway (Curator of Birds, US National Museum); William E. Ritter (President, California Academy of Sciences); De Alton Saunders (botanist, South Dakota Experiment station); William Trelease, Director, Missouri Botanical Garden.
Smithsonian Institution Archives Field Book Project: CorporateBody : Description : rid_18_eid_EACE0018
Railroad magnate Edward H. Harriman described his Alaska outing "as a summer cruise for the pleasure and recreation of my family and a few friends." While he initially planned to extend his adventure only as far as Kodiak Island to engage in some big game hunting, his party grew to include some of the country's foremost and distinguished scientific personnel, artists, photographers, writers, and conservationists. On May 31, 1899, the members of the Harriman Alaska Expedition set sail from Seattle on the steamship George W. Elder . For the next two months, they headed north to explore the waters and coastal territory of Alaska. Twenty-three scientists including geologists, botanists, ornithologists, taxidermists, and zoologists engaged in scientific investigation in their respective fields while enjoying E.H. Harriman's hospitality and leisurely lifestyle aboard the steamship. John Muir, naturalist, explorer and conservationist, was an honorable member of the expedition. Muir had discovered Glacier Bay and Muir Glacier on an earlier expedition with S. Hall Young in 1879. The Harriman Alaska Expedition stops included Muir Glacier, Glacier Bay, Sitka, Yakutat Bay, Prince William Sound, Kodiak Island, the Shumagin Islands, Unalaska, the Pribilof Islands, Port Clarence, and Cape Fox, in addition to a short jaunt over to Plover Bay on the Siberian coast.
Over 5,000 photographs were taken on the trip. Upon the group's return, Harriman produced a two-volume souvenir album entitled A Souvenir of the Harriman Alaska Expedition, May-August, 1899. Volume 1, New York to Cook Inlet and ... Volume II, Cook Inlet to Bering Strait and the Return Voyage, which included photographs by Edward S. Curtis, one of the official expedition photographers.
Photographer Edward S. Curtis was born in 1868 in Whitewater, Wisconsin, and grew up near Cordova, Minnesota. In 1887, Curtis moved to the Washington Territory with his father, where he bought into and later owned a photographic studio in Seattle. In 1898, Curtis met George Bird Grinnell and C. Hart Merriam on Mt. Rainier, which most likely led to his appointment in the following year as official photographer of the Harriman Alaska Expedition. Throughout the early 1900s, Curtis became well known as a photographer of Native Americans, including Chief Joseph. He also developed a relationship with Theodore Roosevelt after photographing his children. Roosevelt wrote the foreword for Curtis's twenty-volume work entitled The North American Indian, the result of three decades of fieldwork. The first volume was published in 1907 and the last in 1930. Curtis died in 1952.
Photographs of the Harriman Alaska Expedition were also taken by other members of the party, including Edward Henry Harriman, patron of the expedition; Clinton Hart Merriam, chief of the Biological Survey, U.S. Department of Agriculture; Grove Karl Gilbert, geologist, U.S. Geological Survey; Leon J. Cole, taxidermist; Robert Ridgway, curator of birds at the U.S. National Museum in Washington, D.C.; William H. Averell, brother-in-law of Edward H. Harriman; Wesley R. Coe, assistant professor of comparative anatomy, Yale University; W.B. Devereux, mining engineer; and D.J. Inverarity, Curtis's assistant.
From the guide to the A Souvenir of the Harriman Alaska Expedition, May-August 1899, (University of Washington Libraries Special Collections)
|Place Name||Admin Code||Country|
|Glacier Bay (Alaska)|
|Northwest Coast of North America|
|Port Clarence (Alaska)|
|Prince William Sound (Alaska)|
|Pribilof Islands (Alaska)|
|Yakutat Bay (Alaska)|
|Shumagin Islands (Alaska)|
|Kodiak Island (Alaska)|
|Expeditions and Adventure|