US Exploring Expedition Project
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Background.

The United States Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842, was the young country's first formal voyage of exploration, charged with a specifically scientific mission. Concentrating on the vast Pacific Ocean from the shores of the west coast of North America to the Antarctic seas, the expedition carried a team of ethnologists, naturalists, and artists who recorded, collected, and drew an enormous amount of material in these previously little-known regions of the world. The collections that were made were ultimately deposited at the Smithsonian Institution, and a series of publications by scientists at the Institution and elsewhere documented a wide range of important discoveries in all of the natural sciences, putting the U.S. "on the map" in international scientific circles. These publications are highly important resources for today's - and tomorrow's - researchers in anthropology, zoology, botany, and geology, but the original volumes are now scarce, fragile, and often deteriorating from 150 years of active use.

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