ship A Smithsonian Institution Libraries Digital Collection
ship The United States Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842
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Learn More About The U.S. Exploring Expeditionmap

Selected Internet Resources on the United States Exploring Expedition

Articles of Interest

Historical Collections

  • A Brief History of the US Botanic Garden
    In 1842, the idea of a national botanic garden was reestablished when the return of the United States Exploring Expedition to the South Seas (the Wilkes Expedition) brought to Washington a collection of living plants from around the globe. Placed initially in a specially constructed greenhouse behind the Old Patent Office Building, the plants were moved in late 1850 into a new structure on the site previously occupied by the Columbian Institute's garden.
  • Anthropological Specimens at the Smithsonian Related to the USExEx
    A web site from the Anthropology Department of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History describing some of the USExEx anthropological collections.
  • Charles F. Guillou (1813-1899) Papers, 1838-1947
    Online finding aid to the Guillou Papers at the Library of the College of Physicians in Philadelphia. It includes his "Memorials of travel, being sketches taken during Exploring Expedition, in the years 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841."
  • Charles Pickering journal, 1838-1841.
    A journal kept by naturalist Charles Pickering from 16 Sept. 1838 to 28 Nov. 1841 while a member of the United States Exploring Expedition, located at the Massachusets Historical Society. To find the record, click on the link and (1) type charles pickering journal in the "Find This" box, (2) select the quick limit for "Manuscripts," (3) select "Keyword in Title" in the "Find Results in" box, and (4) click the "Search" button.
  • Charles Wilkes: A Register of His Papers in the Library of Congress
    The Wilkes Papers are a major source of information on the USExEx. While the papers are not in good condition, they have been microfilmed, allowing for easier use by scholars.
  • Records of the Joint Committees of Congress 1789-1968 (Record Group 128), U.S. National Archives & Records Administration
    The collections of the exploring expedition, and Government efforts to publish its findings, are discussed in the records of the Joint Committee of the Library, JC.035. A petition from expedition naturalist Titian Peale details the personal articles that he lost when the U.S.S. Peacock sank as the expedition was entering the Columbia River (H.C. 33).
  • Reynolds Family Papers
    This collection, MS 6 in the Archives & Special Collections of the Franklin and Marshall College Library, contain a number of materials relating to William Reynolds' (1815-1879) participation in the USExEx, including his journals and letters to family members.
  • United States Exploring Expedition Collection, 1838-1885
    This is the online finding aid for this collection in the Smithsonian Institution Archives. Much of the material relates to the Ichthyology report that was never published.
  • United States National Herbarium
    The United States National Herbarium at the National Museum of Natural History was founded in 1848, when the first collections were accessioned from the United States Exploring Expedition (50,000 specimens of 10,000 species). Current holdings total 4.5 million specimens, making this collection among the ten largest in the world representing about 8% of the plant collection resources of the United States.
  • Wilkes Family Papers, 1818-1947. UNCC Manuscript Collection 38
    This is the finding aid to the Wilkes Family Papers in the J. Murrey Atkins Library of the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. This collection contains, among other things, papers of Admiral Charles Wilkes pertaining to the U.S. Exploring Expedition of 1838-42.
  • William Stanton Guide to American Scientific Exploration
    This guide to collections in the Philadelphia area includes a section on manuscript collections related to the USEXEX. Select "Subject index" and scroll down to "United States Exploring Expedition of 1838-1842, Introduction, US Expl. Exp., 1838" for links of interest.

Other Web Sites Relating to the USExEx

Compiled by Ronald Brashear
Head of Special Collections and
Curator of Science and Technology Rare Books
Smithsonian Institution Libraries