Harriman Alaska Expedition, 1899


The Harriman Expedition explored the coast of Alaska in June and July of 1899. Funded and accompanied by railroad magnate Edward H. Harriman (1848–1909), this "floating university," as it was called, included famous scientists, naturalists, artists, writers, and photographers. The results of the expedition's scientific and ethnological investigations filled 13 volumes that were published between 1901 and 1914. The expedition’s official photographers were Edward Curtis (1868‒1952, later famous for his photos of Native Americans), and his assistant, D.G. Inverarity. Many other members of the expedition also took striking photos, primarily of landscapes and native villages. Albert K. Fisher (1856‒1948) was an ornithologist and vertebrate zoologist who participated in many important scientific expeditions to the American West, including the Death Valley expedition of 1891, biological surveys in California, Nevada, the Arizona Territory, Utah, and portions of other western states in 1892, and the Harriman Expedition. Fisher compiled this 127-page album containing 386 photographs from the expedition. Photographers and scientists whose images were included in the album are, in addition to Curtis and Inverarity, Clinton Hart Merriam, W.H. Averell, Edwin Chapin Starks, Grove Karl Gilbert, Walter Devereux, and Fisher himself. Most of the images are of the Alaska coast, Kodiak, and the Aleutian Islands, but the album also includes scenes from the beginning of the expedition, in Wyoming, Idaho, and on the Snake River in Oregon and in British Columbia, as well as views of Plover Bay, Siberia, which the expedition visited briefly in July 1899.

Last updated: March 17, 2016