- Harriman Alaska Expedition (1899)
- A Souvenir of the Harriman Alaska Expedition photograph albums
- May-August 1899 (inclusive)18991899
- 2 albums containing 253 photographic prints (2 boxes)
- Collection Number
- Photograph albums documenting the activities of the Harriman Expedition to Alaska in 1899, led by Edward Henry Harriman and photographed by the expedition's official photographer, Edward S. Curtis, as well as other members of party.
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
- Access Restrictions
Entire collection can be viewed on the Libraries’ Digital Collections website. Permission of Visual Materials Curator required to view originals. Contact Special Collections for more information.
- Funding for encoding this finding aid was partially provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
- Digital Objects
Historical NoteReturn to Top
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.
Content DescriptionReturn to Top
The collection consists of two albums entitled A Souvenir of the Harriman Alaska Expedition , containing 253 photographic prints and one map. Also included in the collection is a duplicate copy of the album photographs housed unbound in two boxes and including an additional print missing from Volume I. Views depict landscapes, geographic features, towns, native Alaskans, and expedition members.
Use of the CollectionReturn to Top
Restrictions may exist on reproduction, quotatin, or publication. Contact Special Collections, University of Washington Libraries for details.
Administrative InformationReturn to Top
Revised by Heather Robbins May 2013.
See: C. Hart Merriam's Description of the Harriman Alaska Expedition , written as the introduction to the twelve-volume "Alaska" series, which detailed the scientific discoveries that were made during the journey.
See: William H. Goetzmann and Kay Sloan, Looking Far North : the Harriman Expedition to Alaska, 1899 , Princeton University Press, 1983.
Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top
The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.
A Souvenir of the Harriman Alaska Expedition May-August, 1899. Volume 1. New York to Cook Inlet. Return to Top
Container(s): Box 1, Item Cover
A Souvenir of the Harriman Alaska Expedition May-August 1899. Volume II. Cook Inlet to Bering Strait and the Return Voyage. Return to Top
Container(s): Box 2, Item Cover
Names and SubjectsReturn to Top
- Subject Terms :
- Natural history--Alaska--Photographs
- Scientific expeditions--Alaska--Photographs
- Tlingit art--Alaska--Photographs
- Tlingit Indians--Alaska--Photographs
- Visual Materials Collections (University of Washington)
- Personal Names :
- Coe, Wesley Roswell, 1869-1960--Photographs
- Devereux, W.B.--Photographs
- Gilbert, Grove Karl, 1843-1918--Photographs
- Harriman, Edward Henry, 1848-1909--Photographs
- Ridgway, Robert, 1850-1929--Photographs
- Corporate Names :
- Harriman Alaska Expedition (1899)--Photographs
- Geographical Names :
- Alaska--Discovery and exploration--Photographs
- Glacier Bay (Alaska)--Photographs
- Kodiak Island (Alaska)--Photographs
- Port Clarence (Alaska)--Photographs
- Pribilof Islands (Alaska)--Photographs
- Prince William Sound (Alaska)--Photographs
- Shumagin Islands (Alaska)--Photographs
- Sitka (Alaska)--Photographs
- Unalaska (Alaska)--Photographs
- Yakutat (Alaska)--Photographs
- Yakutat Bay (Alaska)--Photographs
- Other Creators :
- Personal Names :
- Averell, William H (photographer)
- Coe, Wesley Roswell, 1869-1960 (photographer)
- Cole, Leon J (photographer)
- Curtis, Edward S., 1868-1952 (photographer)
- Devereux, W.B (photographer)
- Harriman, Edward Henry, 1848-1909 (photographer)
- Merriam, C. Hart (Clinton Hart), 1855-1942 (photographer)
- Ridgway, Robert, 1850-1929 (photographer)