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. Modern reprints or facsimile editions do not exist. Several NH staff have vouched for the scientific importance of these works including Dr. Tim Rose (Geology), Dr. Steven Cairns (IZ), Frederick Bayer (IZ), Storrs Olson (VZ-Birds).
The digital editions will be made available to SI staff and to the general public through SIL's World Wide Web site on the Internet. This project will serve both post-graduate scientific audiences as well as the general public. It is a good fit for the charge of the Atherton Seidell Endowment Fund to increase and diffuse knowledge through re-publication and dissemination of scientific materials.
Web site will track the progress of the US Exploring Expedition Project.
Please check back for frequent project updates.