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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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Akeley, Mary Leonore Jobe (29 January 1878–19 July 1966), explorer, author, and educator, was born near Tappan, Ohio, the daughter of Richard Watson Jobe and Sarah Jane Pittis, farmers. (The year of her birth is sometimes erroneously given as 1886.) She received a Ph.B. at Scio College in Alliance, Ohio, in 1897. (Scio, a Methodist school, merged with Mount Union College in Alliance in 1911.) She took graduate courses at Bryn Mawr (1901–1903) and taught at Temple College (now Temple University). She was head of the Department of History and Civics at the New York State Normal School and Training School in Cortland, New York (1903–1906), studied history and English at Columbia University, and in 1907 began to teach American history at the Normal College of the City of New York (now Hunter College). She received her M.A. in history at Columbia in 1909....

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Benton, Thomas Hart, Jr. (05 September 1816–10 April 1879), frontier educator and legislator, was born in Williamson County, Tennessee, the son of Samuel Benton, a congressman. His mother’s name is unknown. His uncle and namesake practiced law as an associate of Andrew Jackson...

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Brierton, John (1572–1619), explorer and historian, whose name was sometimes spelled Brereton, was born in Norwich, Norfolk, England, the son of Cuthbert Brierton, a dealer in textile fabrics, and Joan Howse. He was educated at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge University, from which he earned a B.A. in 1592–1593 and an M.A. in 1596. In 1598 he became an Anglican deacon and entered the priesthood later the same year. His first curacy was in Lawshall, Suffolk. While there he met a family named Bacon, members of which were cousins of ...

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Henry Roe Cloud. Courtesy of the Nebraska State Historical Society.

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Cloud, Henry Roe (28 December 1884–09 February 1950), Native American educator and leader, was born on the Winnebago reservation in Nebraska, the son of Chayskagah (White Buffalo) and Aboogenewingah (Hummingbird), who lived by trapping and gathering. He was called Wohnaxilayhungah, or Chief of the Place of Fear (the battleground). He was named Henry Cloud by a reservation school administrator and as a boy was the tribe’s first convert to Christianity. After his parents died in 1898 and further Indian school education, he went to the Mount Hermon School, a workstudy school in Massachusetts, and thence to Yale, becoming that university’s first Native American graduate, in 1910. As a college sophomore he worked successfully for the release of Apache prisoners who were incarcerated at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, because their leader, ...

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Darton, Nelson Horatio (17 December 1865–28 February 1948), geological mapper, groundwater specialist, and bibliographer, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of William Darton, Jr., a shipbuilder and civil engineer, and Caroline Matilda Thayer. Darton was a self-trained geologist who dropped out of public school before the age of thirteen to apprentice as a chemist in his uncle’s business. He became a member of the American Chemical Society at age sixteen and shortly thereafter started his own business, selling distilled water. As a practical chemist he became interested in minerals and collected in New Jersey. By age seventeen, Darton had spoken before the New York Academy of Sciences and published his first paper. The conclusion he derived from fieldwork was that some of the rock strata in eastern New Jersey were ancient lava flows, a new concept at that time, but one that was immediately accepted....

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Dorion, Marie (1790–05 September 1850), interpreter, was born into the Iowa tribe as Marie Aioe, or Marie L’Aguivoise; both versions of her maiden surname, variations on the word “Iowa,” appear in early nineteenth-century records of Oregon and Washington territories. Nothing is known of her life until she became the common-law wife of a half Sioux, half French-Canadian fur trader, Pierre Dorion, Jr., around 1806 in the vicinity of what is now Yankton, South Dakota. Pierre Dorion, Sr., had been an interpreter and a guide with the ...

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Dupratz, Antoine Simon Le Page (1695–1758), pioneer and historian, was probably born in the Netherlands, according to some nineteenth-century historians. He considered himself French, however, once calling France “ma patrie.” He was a member of a regiment of dragoons fighting under Louis XIV of France in the German campaigns during the War of the Spanish Succession, which ended in 1713. By 1718 he had studied architecture, hydraulic engineering, and mathematics and was eager to seek adventure in the New World. He joined the Compagnie de la Louisiane ou d’Occident (also called the Company of the West and the Mississippi Company), which had been founded in 1717 by John Law—a Scottish economist and financier under Louis XV of France—for the purpose of extending the French empire into Louisiana....

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Farabee, William Curtis (07 February 1865–24 June 1925), anthropologist and explorer, was born near Sparta in Morris township, Washington County, Pennsylvania, the son of Samuel Farabee and Susannah Henkins (occupations unknown). He attended public school and studied at the California State Normal School from 1885 to 1887 before graduating from Waynesburg College in 1894. He was then a teacher and public school principal for five years. In 1897 he married Sylvia Manilla Holdren; they had no children. He obtained an M.A. in anthropology from Harvard University in 1900, followed by a Ph.D. in 1903. From 1903 to 1912 he taught anthropology at Harvard....

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Fleete, Henry (1602–1661), English colonial merchant and Indian interpreter, was born in County Kent, England, the son of William Fleete, a lawyer and country squire, and Deborah Scott. Residing in America after 1621, Fleete is best known for pioneering the Potomac River beaver trade between the late 1620s and early 1630s and for guiding Lord Baltimore’s colonists to their first Maryland settlement in March 1634....

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Girty, Simon (1741–18 February 1818), British Loyalist and frontier warrior, was born near Harrisburg in colonial Pennsylvania, the son of farmers. One of at least four children born to Simon Girty and Mary Newton, young Simon was raised in modest circumstances. He received no formal education and remained illiterate. When only ten years of age, his father was killed by an Indian. Girty later maintained that his stepfather met a similar fate. In the course of the French and Indian War, Simon was captured by the Seneca and held captive for thirty-six months. During his captivity, Girty became familiar with the language of his captors....

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Gould, Laurence McKinley (22 August 1896–21 June 1995), educator, geologist, and explorer, was born in Lacota, Michigan, the son of Herbert Gould and Anna Updike, farmers. In 1914 he left the family farm and moved to Boca Raton, Florida, where he taught in a one-room schoolhouse. He also helped to found a Sunday school class and with his students published the ...

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Harriot, Thomas (1560–02 July 1621), scientist, linguist, and author of the first English book on North America, was born in Oxford (city or county), England; his parentage is unknown. As an undergraduate he entered St. Mary’s Hall (attached to Oriel College, Oxford) in 1576, matriculated in the University of Oxford in 1557, and graduated B.A. in 1580. He never married....

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Hatathli, Ned (11 October 1923–16 October 1973), Navajo leader and educator, was born in Coalmine Mesa, Arizona, on the Navajo reservation. His parents’ names are not available, but they probably herded sheep and farmed. Hatathli was one of ten children, and he was reared in a traditional Navajo family of this time. Hatathli grew up near the western Navajo settlement of Tuba City, Arizona. In common with most Navajo children of this period, he helped herd the livestock of his parents and extended family and probably imagined himself living a life comparable to that of his older relatives. Unlike many children of this time, however, he was encouraged by one of those relatives to go to school. The heavy-handed assimilation of Bureau of Indian Affairs schools—denying the use of the Navajo language and discouraging other dimensions of the people’s culture—had reduced enrollment. Even though Hatathli began his education at a boarding school, he came of age in the 1930s, when changing BIA philosophies fostered a greater degree of cultural pluralism, including more appreciation for Indian languages and arts. Hatathli eventually attended Haskell Institute, a prominent bureau school in Lawrence, Kansas, and then served in the U.S. Navy before returning home to northern Arizona. In the town of Flagstaff, bordering the Navajo reservation, he attended and graduated from Arizona State Teachers College, known today as Northern Arizona University....

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Huntington, Ellsworth (16 September 1876–17 October 1947), explorer and geographer, was born in Galesburg, Illinois, the son of Henry Strong Huntington, a minister, and Mary Lawrence Herbert. The family moved to Gorham, Maine, after his birth. Huntington was close to his mother, “to whom I owe most,” as he later wrote in dedicating a book to her. When he was twelve years old the family moved to Milton, Massachusetts. He graduated near the top of his class at Milton High School and passed his Harvard entrance examinations, but family financial pressures forced him initially to attend the less expensive Beloit College, where he wrote for the college newspaper and yearbook....

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Ii, John Papa (03 August 1800–02 May 1870), native Hawaiian jurist and historian, was born at Waipio, Ewa, Oahu Island, Kingdom of Hawaii, the son of Malamaekeeke and Wanaoa, descendants of the chiefs of Hawaii Island. Ii’s family were intimates and junior relatives of the ruling royal family, the Kamehameha dynasty. He was named Papa Ii (pronounced ēē) after an uncle who held a particularly high station in the Kamehameha court. He took the name John (Ioane) upon his conversion to Christianity. John Papa Ii was born into the aristocracy of ancient Hawaii and was a child of privilege. The family had been granted the rich lands at Waipio following the conquest of Oahu by King ...

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Johnson, Osa (14 March 1894–07 January 1953), author, lecturer, and film producer, was born Osa Helen Leighty in Chanute, Kansas, the daughter of William Sherman Leighty, a railroad engineer, and Ruby Isabel Holman. In 1910 she left high school to marry Martin Johnson, whom she had met eleven years earlier when he visited Chanute as an eighteen-year-old itinerant photographer. In the meantime he had visited Europe alone and traveled with ...

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Kinzie, Juliette Augusta Magill (11 September 1806–15 September 1870), historian, writer, and early Illinois settler, was born in Middletown, Connecticut, the daughter of Arthur William Magill, a banker, and Frances Wolcott. She received a richer and more complete education than that usually available to young women. She attended a boarding school in New Haven, Connecticut; was tutored by her uncle, Alexander Wolcott, in Latin and other languages while he was a student at Yale; and spent time at ...