Journey to the Southern Ocean and the Bering Strait in Search for the North-Eastern Sea Passage, Undertaken in 1815, 1816, 1817 and 1818 on the Ship "The Riurik" Under the Sponsorship of Rumiantsev. Parts One Through Three


This three-volume work traces the circumnavigation in 1815‒18 of the Russian brig Riurik from the Russian imperial capital of Saint Petersburg through the southern Pacific Ocean to the Bering Strait and Arctic Ocean. This voyage had two purposes: to explore relatively unknown parts of Oceania in the South Pacific, and to search for the Northeast Passage north of Eurasia that might provide a route from Alaska back to Europe via the Arctic Ocean. The work is inscribed to Count Nikolai Rumiantsev, a powerful imperial Russian chancellor of the early 19th century, who sponsored the expedition. It is split into multiple sections per volume and includes the initial maritime instructions as well as describing subsequent portions of the voyage categorized by geography. Parts I, II, and III thus cover different parts of the multi-year journey and contain travelogues and information about the sites visited, as well as notations, mostly on the flora and fauna, and anthropological descriptions of the local populations. Otto von Kotzebue, a young lieutenant of Baltic German origins from Reval (present-day Tallinn, Estonia) commanded the Riurik. The voyage made many geographic, ethnographic, and scientific discoveries. While such voyages often had a military or supply purpose and were intended to service the Russian possessions on the Pacific Ocean, including Alaska and Kamchatka, they also typically brought along scientists and artists who collected specimens and made observations along the route. The voyage of the Riurik achieved fame in part because of the sketches of the ship’s artist, Louis Choris, and the notations of its naturalists, Johann Friedrich Eschscholtz and Adelbert von Chamisso. Chamisso wrote a large section in Volume III on “Kamchatka, the Aleutian Islands, and the Bering Strait.” The book has numerous colored illustrations of native peoples and vistas seen during the voyage of the Riurik, as well as statistical tables filled with observations typically made by latitude and longitude and/or by date. Some corrections to the original text are listed in an addendum.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

St. Petersburg


Title in Original Language

Путешествие в Южный океанъ и в Беринговъ проливъ для отъискания северо-восточнаго морскаго прохода, предпринятое въ 1815, 1816, 1817 и 1818 годахъ иждивениемъ Его Сиятельства, Господина Государственного Канцлера, Графа Николая Петровича Румянцева на корабле Рюрикъ под начальствомъ Флота Лейтенанта Коцебу

Type of Item

Physical Description

3 volumes : plates, portraits ; 29 centimeters

Last updated: December 11, 2017