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Harriet Chalmers Adams. Harriet Chalmers Adams. Harriet Chalmers Adams, 1908. Glass negative. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-DIG-npcc-19900).

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Adams, Harriet Chalmers (22 October 1875–17 July 1937), explorer, lecturer, and writer, was born Harriet Chalmers in Stockton, California. Her father, Alexander Chalmers, Canadian via Scotland, came to California in 1864 to try his luck mining; he later ran a dry goods store with his brother before becoming a mine superintendent and part-owner. Her mother, Frances Wilkins, had grown up in the Sierra Nevada foothills. From the age of eleven Harriet and her sister Anna had private tutors. Her mother encouraged Harriet’s love of reading, while travels with her father developed her interest in the natural world as well as the Native American and Spanish-speaking cultures in the region. At thirteen Harriet and her father spent more than six months meandering the length of the Sierras from Oregon to Mexico, cementing her lifelong love of adventure. As a young woman Harriet continued her indoor and outdoor studies and had an active social life. She was fluent in Spanish and spoke Portuguese, French, Italian, and German as well....

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Bridgman, Herbert Lawrence (30 May 1844–24 September 1924), newspaper executive and explorer, was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, the son of Richard Baxter Bridgman and Mary Nutting. Educated at local schools and at Amherst College, from which he graduated in 1866, Bridgman received a master’s degree in English from Amherst three years later....

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Frank Carpenter. Center, talking with the director of the Standard Oil fields in Roumania. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-98528).

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Carpenter, Frank George (08 May 1855–18 June 1924), journalist and author of travel books, was born in Mansfield, Ohio, the son of George F. Carpenter, an attorney, and Jeannette Reid. Frank attended public school in Mansfield and then went on to the University of Wooster, earning a Phi Beta Kappa key and graduating in 1877. He did further study at Ohio State University. In 1878 or 1879 he was hired as the Columbus (Ohio) correspondent for the ...

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Colton, Walter (09 May 1797–22 January 1851), clergyman, journalist, and author, was born in Rutland County, Vermont, the son of Walter Colton, a weaver, and Thankful Cobb. The family soon moved to Georgia, Vermont. Colton was apprenticed to a cabinetmaking uncle in Hartford, Connecticut, where in 1816 he joined the Congregational church. He attended classes at the Hartford Grammar School until 1818, entered Yale College, won a prize for excellence in Latin, and graduated as valedictorian poet in 1822. He studied at the Andover Theological Seminary, graduating in 1825. Later that year he became a Congregationalist evangelist and joined the faculty of the Scientific and Military Academy in Middletown, Connecticut, where he taught moral philosophy and belles-lettres and was chaplain. Publishing essays and poems signed “Bertram” in the Middletown ...

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John Dos Passos. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-117477).

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Dos Passos, John (14 January 1896–28 September 1970), writer, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of John Randolph Dos Passos, a lawyer, and Lucy Addison Sprigg Madison. His parents were married in 1910, when his father’s first wife died, and in 1912 the boy took his father’s name of Dos Passos; before that he was known as John Roderigo Madison. As an illegitimate child he had lived a rootless life, traveling much in Europe with his mother. She died in 1915. The necessary secrecy of his boyhood, the mixture of admiration and fear Dos Passos felt toward his powerful father—who was both an important corporate lawyer and the author of books on trusts and the stock market—and his dependence on his beautiful, often unhappy southern mother affected him deeply. A timid boy, Dos Passos found excitement in reading, studying languages, and observing the art of the time; he discovered his greatest joy in writing. His early poems, with those of ...

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Freeman, Frederick Kemper (15 June 1841–09 September 1928), frontier journalist, was born in Culpeper County, Virginia, the son of Arthur Freeman, a railroad agent, and Mary Allison Kemper. Freeman attended schools associated with his mother’s family; between the ages of ten and about fourteen, Freeman attended Kemper Family School, later known as Kemper Military School, in Boonville, Missouri. After returning to Virginia, he attended Kemper College in Gordonsville. On 9 May 1861 he enlisted in the Confederate army, in which he participated in the battle of Manassas and rose to the rank of lieutenant in the Signal Corps....

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Harrison, Marguerite (23 October 1878–16 July 1967), journalist, spy, world traveler, and writer, was born Marguerite Elton Baker in Baltimore, Maryland, to Elizabeth Elton Livezey and Bernard Baker. Her wealthy family made its fortune in transatlantic shipping, and she spent many summers in Europe, where she enhanced her language skills. Her education was a combination of private tutors and attendance at St. Timothy’s School in Catonsville, Maryland, where she experienced some social awkwardness, but she also learned much about the wider world that would influence the rest of her life. After high school, she attended Radcliffe College for one semester and then in 1901 quickly married Thomas Harrison against her parents’ wishes. In contrast to her family’s high standing and social connections, Thomas came from a family of lesser means and status....

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Charles Fenno Hoffman. Engraving by John Sartain. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-99504).

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Hoffman, Charles Fenno (07 February 1806–07 June 1884), writer and editor, was born in New York City, the son of Josiah Ogden Hoffman, a prominent judge, and his second wife, Maria Fenno. At the age of eleven, Hoffman was seriously injured in an accident along the New York docks, resulting in the amputation of his right leg above the knee. In spite of the accident, he was an avid athlete and outdoorsman. In 1821 he entered Columbia College, where he was active in student life but never rose above the bottom fifth of his class. He left Columbia after two years, and in 1823 he began to study law in the Albany office of Harmanus Bleeker. Admitted to the bar in 1827, he returned to New York and began to practice law. Soon after, he began contributing essays, reviews, and poems to the ...

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Keyes, Frances Parkinson (21 July 1885–03 July 1970), writer, editor, and traveler, was born in Charlottesville, Virginia, in James Monroe’s house, the daughter of John Henry Wheeler, a scholar and head of the Greek department at the University of Virginia, and Louise Fuller Johnson Underhill. When John Wheeler died in 1887, Louise Wheeler moved to “The Oxbow,” a family home near Newbury, Vermont, where Frances spent the summer months. In the winter months they relocated to Boston so Frances could attend school. Although she did graduate from Miss Winsor’s school in Boston, she described her formal education as “sketchy.”...

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Charles F. Lummis Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-95549).

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Lummis, Charles Fletcher (01 March 1859–25 November 1928), author, editor, and explorer, was born in Lynn, Massachusetts, the son of Henry Lummis, a teacher and Methodist clergyman, and Harriet Waterman Fowler. A sickly child, he was tutored at home, attended Harvard intermittently from 1877 to 1881, but left without a degree. He was a reporter for and then the editor of the weekly Scioto ...

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Martineau, Harriet (12 June 1802–27 June 1876), author, was born in Norwich, England, the daughter of Thomas Martineau, a textile manufacturer, and Elizabeth Rankin. The family was Unitarian, republican, and laissez-fairist, and these traditions shaped both Harriet’s early thinking and her implicit belief in natural law and the rights of the individual. Although her education was inferior to that given her brothers, it was more rigorous than was customary for girls of the period. In adolescence she developed a hearing disorder that left her permanently hard of hearing, but, despite this disability and her inferior status as a woman in the nineteenth century, she made her living as a writer and earned an international reputation doing so....

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Maxwell, William (1766 or 1767?–10 September 1809), pioneer printer, newspaper editor, and office holder, was long thought, based on statements made by his descendants, to have been born about 1755 in New York or New Jersey, the son of William Maxwell, an immigrant from Scotland. Current scholarship infers a probable birth date of 1766 or 1767 from a contemporary newspaper obituary and suggests several additional mid-Atlantic states (Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland) as possible places of origin. Little is known of Maxwell’s early life, including his mother’s identity. Although he is reputed to have served as a revolutionary war soldier, his participation has not been confirmed by extant military records....

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Morford, Henry (10 March 1823–04 August 1881), author and journalist, was born in the village of New Monmouth, Monmouth County, New Jersey, the son of William Morford, a merchant, and Elizabeth Willett. The Morford family had emigrated from England to New Jersey, where they engaged in farming as well as mercantile, coal, and lumber businesses. The Morfords were devout Baptists, and they were politically active as Whigs and, later, Republicans....

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Regan, John (1818–05 May 1893), newspaper editor and author, was apparently born in northern England, near the Lune River, of Irish parents. He attended school in Ayrshire, Scotland, and later taught there for a few years. Early in 1842 he married a woman named Elizabeth (last name unknown) and sailed for the United States. They eventually had four children....

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Robinson, Solon (21 October 1803–03 November 1880), author, agricultural journalist, and Indiana pioneer, was born in Tolland, Connecticut, the son of Jacob Robinson, a farmer and cooper, and Salinda Ladd. His father died when Solon Robinson was about six, and then his mother married James Robinson, one of her deceased husband’s cousins. After his mother died and her second husband refused further responsibility for his stepchildren, Solon Robinson was in the care of William Bottom. He worked on his guardian’s farm, got a little education in a country school near Lisbon, Connecticut, and briefly worked as a carpenter’s apprentice, which was harder labor than his health could stand. In 1818, for unknown reasons, Solon successfully petitioned that Vine Robinson, an uncle in Brooklyn, Connecticut, be his guardian. Solon’s later devotion to temperance may have been learned from his uncle, but little more is known about the next few years of his life....