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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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Hernando de Alarcón. Engraving, c. 1791. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-99997).

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Alarcón, Hernando de (fl. 1540–1541), Spanish explorer, , is believed to have been born in Trujillo, Spain. The names of his parents and the circumstances and year of his birth are all unknown. The only documented period of his life is 1540–1541, when he acted in response to the commands of Antonio de Mendoza, the viceroy of New Spain (Mexico). In the spring of 1540 Mendoza directed Alarcón to sail north from Acapulco, Mexico, to support the land explorations of ...

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Álvarez de Pineda, Alonso (?–1520), ship captain and explorer, is presumed to have been born in Spain, although neither his place of birth nor the names of his parents are known. In the spring of 1519 Álvarez de Pineda was commissioned by Francisco de Garay, Spanish governor of Jamaica, to explore the still unknown northern Gulf Coast between the discoveries of ...

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James Markham Ambler. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B01766).

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Ambler, James Markham Marshall (30 December 1848–30 October 1881), naval surgeon and explorer, was born in Markham, Virginia, the son of Richard Cary Ambler, a physician, and Susan Marshall. At age sixteen Ambler became a volunteer in the Twelfth Virginia Cavalry. He studied a premedicine curriculum at Washington College in 1865–1867 and then entered the University of Maryland. After acquiring a medical degree in 1870, he practiced in Baltimore until his appointment as an assistant surgeon in the U.S. Navy. During 1874–1875, he was stationed in the North Atlantic. In 1877 he joined the staff of the Naval Hospital at Norfolk, Virginia....

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Andrews, Roy Chapman (26 January 1884–11 March 1960), explorer and zoologist, was born in Beloit, Wisconsin, the son of Charles Ezra Andrews, a wholesale druggist, and Cora May Chapman. As a young boy Andrews resolved “to be an explorer, to work in a natural history museum, and to live out of doors” ( ...

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Anza, Juan Bautista de (07 July 1736–19 December 1788), military commander, explorer, and governor, was born in the presidio of Fronteras, Sonora, Mexico, the son of Juan Bautista de Anza, commandant of the post since 1719, and María Rafaela Becerra Nieto; his grandfather was commandant of Janos presidio, Chihuahua. Anza’s father was killed in combat in 1739, but Anza continued in the family tradition, and on 1 December 1752 entered the militia at Fronteras. On 1 July 1755 he was promoted to lieutenant at Fronteras, and, after participating in Indian campaigns in Sonora, he rose in 1760 to the rank of captain and commander of the presidio at Tubac (in present-day Arizona). On 24 June 1761 he married Ana María Pérez Serrano of Arizpe, Sonora, but no children were born of the union....

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Argall, Sir Samuel (1580–24 January 1626), English explorer and colonial leader in early Virginia, was baptized at East Sutton, Kent, England, on 4 December 1580, the son of Richard Argall, a gentry landowner, and Mary Scott, daughter of a wealthy knight. As the eighth son and twelfth child of a prominent family, Argall neither had the luxury of living as a landed gentleman, nor the necessity of forging a career without influential kin connections in Kent and London....

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Baldwin, Evelyn Briggs (22 July 1862–25 October 1933), arctic explorer, was born in Springfield, Missouri, the son of Elias Briggs Baldwin, an army captain, and Julia Cornelia Crampton. His father served in the Thirty-sixth Illinois Infantry Volunteers in the Civil War and later became a farmer. His mother died when he was four years old. Raised on his father’s Kansas farm, Baldwin attended high school in nearby Oswego and received a B.S. from North-Western (later North-Central) College in Naperville, Illinois, in 1885. After graduation Baldwin spent a year in Europe, supporting his pedestrian and bicycle travels by writing a subscription newspaper, ...

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Beltrami, Giacomo Constantino (1779–06 January 1855), explorer, was born in Bergamo, Italy, the son of Giovanni Battista Beltrami, a Venetian customs official, and Margherita Carozzi. His early career was formed by the Napoleonic presence in northern Italy. Enamored of the ideals of the French Revolution and an admirer of Napoleon Bonaparte, Beltrami joined the militia of the Cisalpine Republic in 1796 and rose to become a vice inspector of armies. In 1807 he became chancellor of the Department of Justice of Parma and served as a judge until 1813. As the Napoleonic empire began to crumble, Beltrami retired from the bench and became a member of the Florentine salon of Louise Maximilienne Caroline, the countess of Albany and the widow of Charles Edward Stuart, better known as the “Young Pretender” or “Bonnie Prince Charlie.” Beltrami also forged important relationships with Countess Giulia Spada de Medici and Countess Geronima Compagnoni....

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Bering, Vitus Jonassen ( August 1681–08 December 1741), explorer, was born in Horsens, Denmark, the son of Jonas Svendsen, a customs inspector, and Anne Petersdatter. Her family included the distinguished poet Vitus Pedersen Bering; young Vitus was named for him. Bering’s half-brother Svend, given the choice between colonial service and prison after he participated in riots, chose colonial service and sailed for India in April 1696; Vitus was along as ship’s boy....

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Hiram Bingham Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-99525).

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Bingham, Hiram (19 November 1875–06 June 1956), explorer, was born Hiram Bingham III in Honolulu, Hawaii, the son of Hiram Bingham (1831–1908) and Clarissa Minerva Brewster, missionaries. Bingham’s family assumed he would constitute the third generation of missionary service to the natives of the south Pacific and constantly pressured him to live the godly life. His few efforts as a missionary literally made him sick, and he seems to have had little interest in the salvation of the natives. Bingham (he appears to have dropped the III about the time his father died) instead sublimated the family’s missionary zeal into a broad variety of interests....

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Block, Adriaen (1610–1624), Dutch mariner, explorer, and trader, was most likely born in Holland, but nothing is now known of his place of birth, parents, early education, or marital status. It is thought that he studied law but soon felt eager to go to sea. His opportunity came after ...

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Bonneville, Benjamin Louis Eulalie de (14 April 1796–12 June 1878), explorer and army officer, was born in or near Paris, France, the son of Nicolas de Bonneville, a writer-editor, and Margaret Brazier. During the French Revolution Bonneville’s father was prominent in the Cercle Social...

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Boyd, Louise Arner (16 September 1887–14 September 1972), Arctic explorer, photographer, and author, was born in San Rafael, California, the daughter of John Franklin Boyd, Sr., and Louise Cook Arner. Boyd was born to one of the wealthiest families in turn-of-the-century San Francisco. Her maternal grandfather, Ira Cook, had built a fortune in the mid-nineteenth century, and her father ran the family gold-mining business and an investment company. Boyd was educated privately, first by governesses, then at Miss Stewart’s School in San Rafael and Miss Murrison’s in San Francisco. She did not attend college or university and made her social debut in 1907. Throughout the next decade, during which her father trained her to become the financial manager of the family business, Boyd stayed busy with family concerns and community interests, helping care for her invalid brothers and emerging as a leading patron of music, art, and charitable causes in San Rafael and San Francisco. She also became expert at growing prize camellias....

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Bradley, Abraham, Jr. (21 February 1767– May 1838), public administrator and topographer, was born in Litchfield, Connecticut, the son of Abraham Bradley, a public officer, and Hannah Baldwin. Bradley grew up in Litchfield, graduated from Tapping Reeve’s well-known law school, and was admitted to the bar in 1791. For a brief period he practiced law in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, where he also served as a judge. During this time he met and married Hannah Smith, with whom he had eight children. Though Bradley possessed an excellent knowledge of the law, he did not find legal work congenial because it called for a good deal of public speaking, a skill that he never acquired....