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Charles Pickering Journal of U. S. Exploring Expedition

 Collection — Volume: 1-2
Identifier: ANSP-Coll-0308

Scope and Contents

This unpublished two volume journal kept by Charles Pickering covers the portion of the U.S. Exploring Expedition from Madeira to the Hawaiian Islands. It contains approximately 1000 pages of Pickering's commentary about various aspects of the localities visited including topography and geological structures, coral reel formations, climate, mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, mollusks, insects, crustacea, and plants as well as accounts describing indigenous peoples. Lists of specimens seen and collected are also included.

The areas described in volume 1, covering the period September 16, 1838 to April 6, 1840 are: Madeira, Cape Verde Islands, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Negro, Tierra del Fuego, Chile, Peru, Lord Howe Island, South East Australia, Norfolk Island, New Zealand, Auckland Islands and Antarctica.

The areas described in volume 2, covering the period August 13, 1840 to November 28, 1841 and transcribed as written by Pickering are: "Clermont-Tonnere or Minerva Island," "Coral Islands," "Searle Island," T. Conden Island," "Diappointment Islands," "King's Island or Kainua," "Ranuka," "Vincennes Island," "Carlshoff's Island," "King George's Islands or Tiokeu," "Water-Land or Wilson's Island," "Peacock Island," "Dean's Island," "Aurora Island or Mateeah," "Tahiti and Eimeo," "Bellinghausen Island," "Rosa Island," "Navigator Islands," "Wallis' Island," "Horn Island," "Hunters Island," "Tonga Islands," "Feejee Islands," and "Hawai Islands."

A few records of species have been printed. See Fowler, Henry W. Fishes of Fiji, Supplement, p. 563, publ. by Govt. of Fiji, Suva, 1959.


  • September 1838-November 1841


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Charles Pickering Journal of U.S. Exploring Expedition is the physical property of the Library and Archives, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. This work is in the public domain. Please include a complete citation in your work.

Biographical / Historical

Charles Pickering was born in Connecticut and graduated from Harvard Medical School. Pickering moved to Philadelphia in 1827 and became active in the Academy, serving as its librarian from 1829-1833. In 1838, he was appointed to the scientific corps of the United States Exploring Expedition, the first scientific voyage sponsored by the United States government. Pickering wrote two of the published expedition reports, volume 9, Races of Man and their Geographical Distribution (1848), and volume 19, The Geographical Distribution of Animals and Plants (1863).

In addition to Pickering, the United States Exploring Expedition employed a contingent of scientists also known as the "scientifics" including Titian Ramsay Peale, Joseph P. Couthouy, James Dwight Dana, William Rich, William Dunlop Brackenridge, and Horatio Hale under the command of Lieutenant Charles Wilkes of the United States Navy. Illustrators, Joseph Drayton and Alfred T. Agate, also accompanied the expedition. During the voyage, the scientists gathered specimens and studied the flora and fauna of each place visited between August 1838 and June 1842.


0.6 linear feet (2 volumes)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Charles Pickering, date unknown.

Related Materials

Charles Pickering Journal, 1838-1841, Ms. N-706, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, Massachusetts.

United States Exploring Expedition Collection, Record Unit 7186, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Washington D.C.

Processing Information

Collection processed and finding aid prepared in 1963 by Venia T. Phillips and Maurice E. Phillips. Finding aid revised in April 2024 by Jessica M. Lydon, Brooke Dolan Archivist to include subject headings, dates of volumes, and corrections to scope and contents note.

Venia T. Phillips and Maurice E. Phillips (1963)
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • April 2024: Finding aid revised by Jessica M. Lydon, Brooke Dolan Archivist.

Repository Details

Part of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University Repository

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