Map of the Kuril Islands with Surrounding Areas

This 18th century Russian map depicts the Kurile Islands archipelago, located on the far eastern edge of the Russian Empire. Although inaccurate in places, the map attempts to show the large and small islands throughout the entire chain. Most of the Kurile Islands are listed by name, a geographical specificity quite unusual for such a remote region in this era. As with the nearby Aleutian Islands, by this time these islands had been repeatedly visited by both Russian maritime explorers and hunters of sea otter. Sakhalin Island is also seen toward the upper center of the map, alongside the Russian mainland, as is the Kamchatka Peninsula toward the upper right. Some rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water are listed by name. Relief is indicated pictorially in places. Northern Japan, principally Hokkaido, is shown toward the lower left of the map. Geographic coordinates for longitude on this map are measured from Ferro (present-day Hierro), the westernmost of the Canary Islands (the western edge of the world known to the ancients), used by geographers back to the time of Ptolemy as a base point prior to the agreement in 1884 that the prime meridian would run through Greenwich, England.

Travels Along the Northern Shore of Siberia and the Arctic Ocean, Completed in 1820, 1821, 1822, 1823, and 1824 as an Expedition Under the Command of Fleet-Lieutenant Ferdinand von Wrangel. Parts 1–2

Presented here is an atlas consisting of four maps and 12 illustrations relating to the northeastern part of Siberia, including the Chukotka Peninsula, compiled on a famous expedition in this area from 1820 to 1824 under the command of the Baron Ferdinand von Wrangel. The maps are Mercator projections that provide extensive geographical information about the region. As indicated by the legends, darker solid lines are used to show sled routes taken by expedition members (including those on sea ice in the Arctic Ocean), and lighter solid lines mark travels by horseback. The maps show the boundary between the forested regions and tundra. They also reveal points where the expedition recorded latitude and longitude (as measured from Greenwich, England). Native populations, such as the Chukchi and Yakut peoples, are listed on the map by region. Relief is shown by hachures and shading. Rivers and tributaries are named, as well as some of the mountain peaks and other geographical points of interest, including bodies of water. Significant forts and population settlements also are indicated. Several illustrations that accompany the maps provide explanatory sketches of native cultural artifacts from the area, including, for example, the sleds and yurts of the Chukchi people. Other illustrations offer vivid and colorful representations of the Northern Lights seen in the night sky from the Arctic latitudes. An accompanying book about the voyage was published along with the atlas. Baron Ferdinand von Wrangel (1796–1870) was a prominent Baltic German from Estland in the Russian Empire (present-day Estonia). He was an officer in the Imperial Russian Navy who was an accomplished and noted explorer. He eventually became the chief manager of the Russian-American Company and resided in Novo-Arkhangel’sk (present-day Sitka) for several years. He was highly regarded for both his business and ecological acumen regarding sea otters, the pelts of which comprised the primary economic focus of the company in Alaska. He later became a prominent member of the Imperial Russian Geographical Society, renowned for his numerous Arctic and Pacific explorations, and served as a member of the board of the Russian-American Company.

Charts of the Kurile Islands

Presented here are five charts of the Kurile Islands, created in 1811, which contain detailed information about important islands and island clusters within the chain. The charts were compiled by Kyril T. Khlebnikov (1784–1838), a long-time official of the Russian-American Company, for use as a cartographic and navigational resource for company needs. The charts were drawn on the famous Russian sloop Diana, which visited the Kurile Islands in 1811 under orders of the Imperial Russian Naval Ministry. The Diana’s mission was to explore and map the southern part of the island chain as well as other sites in the North Pacific. These charts focus on the island of Simushir Ostrov (labelled as Marikan, an earlier name, on international maps). They reference the presence of sea otters, the furs of which were the main business interest of the Russian-American Company. Locations on the island where Kurile natives pursued traditional activities, including the gathering of roots, are also highlighted. The presence of large volcanoes on this island, as throughout the entire Kurile chain, is apparent from the stark relief shown on the charts by hachures and shading. Latitude and longitude are provided, including longitudinal readings (from Greenwich, England) for several volcanic peaks. A scale at the bottom of the map indicates distance in geographical miles. A geographical mile represents a unit of length equal to one minute of arc on the Earth’s equator; thus 60 geographical miles are contained within one degree of longitude at the equator, with precise mathematical variations occurring by latitude to the poles.

Mercator Map from 59 Degrees to 62 Degrees Latitude North, Showing the Road from the City of Okhotsk Astride the Maia and Iudoma Rivers

Presented here is a manuscript Mercator map that shows the route between the Siberian cities of Okhotsk and Yakutsk, mainly along the Maya and Yudoma Rivers, located in the region between the latitudes of 59° and 62° North. The map was drawn in 1788 by the famous explorer and ship captain, Gavriil Sarychev (1763–1831), who surveyed vast portions of the Arctic and North Pacific Oceans in the late 18th century. Sarychev’s visit to the region depicted on the map took place at the time of the famous Billings-Sarychev Expedition (1785–92), in which he explored the eastern reaches of the Russian Empire in tandem with English captain Joseph Billings, who had been hired by Empress Catherine the Great for his maritime expertise. The map shows the valleys of the Maya and Yudoma Rivers in detail, including the locations of rapids and shoals as well as tributaries. Forested cliffs are indicated on the map, with representations of heavy forestation shown by tree symbols. Relief in the river valleys is indicated by brown shading. The city of Yakutsk is shown just off the upper-left-hand corner of the map, while the city of Okhotsk is indicated in the lower-right-hand corner along the Pacific coast (Sea of Okhotsk). A small black line in the upper-left-hand corner identifies the road that stretched from Yakutsk to the nearest point on the river system that led to Okhotsk. Geographic coordinates for longitude on this map are measured from Ferro (present-day Hierro), the westernmost of the Canary Islands (the western edge of the world known to the ancients), used by geographers back to the time of Ptolemy as a base point prior to the agreement in 1884 that the prime meridian would run through Greenwich, England.

A Drawing Showing that Portion of Lake Baikal, Where Boats Loaded with Lead Traverse Between the Mouths of the Rivers Selenga and Angara

The map shown here, centered on the southern portion of Lake Baikal, highlights the route of ships that carried shipments of lead between two major rivers on opposite sides of the lake, the Angara and Selenga. It was drawn in 1799 by two geological and mining specialists, Frolov and Kopylov, who were members of the Nerchinsk Expedition and compiled a series of regional maps. This map is oriented to the southern and southeastern portions of the lake, with the Angara River on the lower right (and the main regional city of Irkutsk toward the bottom) and the Selenga River on the other shore toward the upper left. Major shipping routes are indicated by red and blue solid lines, with standard directional arrows. The map includes a detailed representation of the southern shores of Lake Baikal. Rivers and creeks that flow into the lake are named, as are small bays and inlets, as well as towns. Measurements of lake depth are provided in a cross-section toward the lower left of the map that correlates by line to the appropriate geographic location on the lake surface. A map legend indicates water depth in sazhens, a unit of measurement equal to 2.13 meters. Land relief is represented by hachures and shading, with vegetation and forests indicated by shading as well. The map legend indicates distance in versts, a tsarist-era unit of length equal to 1.07 kilometers. An explanatory text is provided in the upper-left corner that explains some regional geography and variations in shipping routes depending upon prevailing winds.

Lake Baikal with Sections of the Rivers Lena, Argun, Selenga, and Angara with the Surrounding Districts

The map presented here is centered on Lake Baikal and the major rivers that flow into or out of its watershed, including the Lena, Argun, Selenga, and Angara. It also shows the adjoining parts of eastern Siberia through which these rivers flow, and indicates tributaries, mountains, and vegetation. The map covers the Ust-Ilimsk, Irkutsk, Selenga, Yakutsk, and Nerchinsk Districts, all shown with yellow shading and delineated by yellow boundary lines. The largest regional cities and towns are indicated. Olkhon Island, the largest island in Lake Baikal, is also visible. Northern parts of Imperial China are shown at the bottom of the map and are set off from Siberia by a conjoined yellow-and-green line. Russian areas to the west, such as parts of the Krasnoyarsk and Yeniseysk  Districts, are distinguished by pink shading and a pink boundary line. The map was compiled by Johann Treskot (1719–86), a cartographer of British descent, and engraved by A. Medvedev. Treskot was a talented geodesist who was affiliated with the Geographical Department of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The scale of the map is 42 kilometers per centimeter. It indicates distance in versts, a tsarist-era unit of length equal to 1.07 kilometers. An inset in the upper-right-hand corner lists Lake Baikal and the Lena, Argun, Selenga, and Angara Rivers as the main regions shown on the map and gives the name of the compiler.

Astronomical and Geographical Land Map of the Russian State, Irkutsk Province, with the Indication of Cities, Fortifications, and Settlements of Various Peoples, Adjacent Parts of North America as well as the Empires of China and Japan, and with Corrected Measurements of Longitude and Latitude from the Meridian of Saint Petersburg

This map depicts Irkutsk Province and eastern Siberia in the early 19th century. It was compiled in 1810 by Ivan Kozhevin, a geodesist with the Russian Academy of Sciences. Under the map title at the top center is the symbol of Imperial Russia, the crest of a double-headed eagle holding the orb and scepter. The map also shows other regions of the Russian Empire to the west of Irkutsk, as well as adjacent parts of North America, China, and Japan. Colors delineate national boundaries, with a solid pink line outlining the entire eastern and northern borders of the Russian Empire, including Alaska (i.e., Russian America, where the eastern boundary with British North America is shown inaccurately). In contrast to the highly detailed Russian portions of the map, foreign lands are inaccurately represented, with far less precision and even missing elements. Parts of Alaska that the Russians had settled and explored extensively by the early 19th century, including the Aleutian Islands, Kodiak Island, and the Kenai Peninsula, are shown with much greater geographical specificity than adjoining inland regions of Alaska and North America. Southeastern regions of Alaska, which the Russians were only beginning to settle at this time, are also imperfectly represented. Northern areas of Alaska, especially within the Arctic, were poorly known by the Russians at this point and are entirely misrepresented on the map. A nonexistent large landmass stretching into the far north is placed where the Arctic Ocean is shown to the north of Alaska. The coast of China is shown inaccurately in places, while the islands of Japan are misrepresented in both shape and number. A bright dashed-yellow line indicates the Great Wall of China toward the center-left of the map. In the upper-left-hand corner are a series of tables that list the number of churches throughout eastern Russia, including local parish membership rolls by gender as well as a total count. There are two pictorial insets at the top of the map, an image of Tsar Alexander I in the upper-left-hand corner and one of Tsar Peter the Great in the upper-right-hand corner. Smaller insets can be seen at the bottom of the map: an image of a large ocean-going ship in the lower-left-hand corner and an image of a native Aleut hunting sea otter from a baidarka (Aleut or Unangan kayak) in the lower-right-hand corner.

Eastern Part of the Yakutsk District

This map focuses on the farthest northeastern parts of continental Russia, including the Chukotka Peninsula within the Yakutsk District (in present-day Chukotskiy Autonomous Okrug) and the northern portion of the Kamchatka Peninsula. It was compiled by Johann Treskot (1719–86) and engraved by Ivan Kuvakin in 1772. Treskot was a talented geodesist, affiliated with the Geographical Department of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The area of Russia depicted on this map extends from the mouth of the Yana River on the Arctic Ocean, in the upper-left-hand corner, to the city of Okhotsk on the Pacific coast, in the lower-left-hand corner, to Chukotka in the upper right-hand corner and the northern part of the Kamchatka Peninsula in the lower center. The Sea of Okhotsk is shown on the lower left-hand corner of the map, the Pacific (or Eastern) Ocean to the right, and the Arctic Ocean at the top. A few mountain chains are named, as are scattered Russian settlements and population centers. Some regional native cultures are listed, such as the Yukaghirs on the top left of the map, and the Chukchi to the right. Land relief and vegetation are shown by shading. Rivers and many tributaries are indicated, as are bodies of water and other geographical points of interest. The farthest northeastern tip of Russia is significantly misrepresented in size and shape, invariably because of its remote location and infrequent visitation by explorers and geographers to that point. The map indicates distance in versts, a tsarist-era unit of length equal to 1.07 kilometers.

Map of the Siberian Provinces, Containing the Provinces of Tobolsk and Eniseisk

This map highlights the regions of western and central Siberia, with a focus on the Tobolsk and Yeniseysk Provinces. The map was compiled by Johann Treskot (1719–86) and engraved by S. Sklunov in 1775. Gradients on the map were included by I. Kuvakin. Treskot was a talented geodesist, affiliated with the Geographical Department of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The symbol of Imperial Russia, the crest of a double-headed eagle holding the orb and scepter, adorns the center top of the map. Rivers, populated places, vegetation, and mountains are shown in detail for both Tobolsk and Yeniseysk Provinces, which are shaded in yellow and surrounded by a solid yellow borderline. Most rivers and tributaries, as well as lakes and other bodies of water, are named if located within these two provinces. Cities, towns, and other geographic points of interest are also extensively identified within Tobolsk and Yeniseysk Provinces. Similar cartographic indications are made for adjoining Russian regions shown in white rather than yellow, but are far fewer in number or detail. The shoreline of the Arctic Ocean along northern Russia is provided with a geographic specificity unusual for its era. The map indicates distance in versts, a tsarist-era unit of length equal to 1.07 kilometers.

V. M. Lavrov

This photograph is from V pamiat’ piatidesiatiletiia osnovaniia goroda Vladivostoka i prisoedineniia Ussuriiskogo kraia, 1860‒1910 (In memory of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the city of Vladivostok and the annexation of the Ussuri Krai, 1860‒1910), an album commemorating the two events listed in the title. Vladivostok, Russia’s Far Eastern port city on the Pacific, was founded in 1860 by military officers tasked with creating a new city on Golden Horn Bay (Bukhta Zolotoy Rog). To build the city, the soldiers brought construction materials with them from their base at the inland city of Nikolayevsk-on-Amur. The album’s extensive collection of photographs includes a number of views of the bay and many collages of portraits of the city’s founding fathers. The panoramic views of the city show its growth over the 50 years of its existence. Vladivostok became the Pacific terminus of the Trans-Siberian Railroad, and the album contains several pictures of the line. Russia acquired the Ussuri Krai in 1860, under the terms of the Treaty of Peking concluded in that year with Qing dynasty China. While the album mainly deals with the city of Vladivostok, some of the photographs relate to the broader region, including one showing the first Russian settlers to the southern part of the region. The album is preserved in the National Library of Russia and was digitized for the Meeting of Frontiers digital library project in the early 2000s.