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At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Dickerson, Mahlon (1770-1853) to President of the Geological Society of New Haven

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC00507.01 Author/Creator: Dickerson, Mahlon (1770-1853) Place Written: Washington, D.C. Type: Letter signed Date: 31 August 1836 Pagination: 2 p. ; 26 x 10 cm.

Summary of Content: Indicates that preparations are being made for the Wilkes expedition, "an exploring & surveying Expedition for the Southern Ocean." Requests for advice on the "formation of a scientific Corps" and recommendations of suitable members. Needs men acquainted with many branches of science, which he lists; a philologist "to collect vocabularies of the different languages, and an artist to take the portraits of the natives." Also asks for suggestions about what "subjects of natural history" the corps should focus on in their research. The Wilkes expedition to Antarctica was the first attempt to organize the country behind an expedition to explore outside the continental United States. Written at the Navy Department.

Background Information:

People: Dickerson, Mahlon, 1770-1853

Historical Era: National Expansion and Reform, 1815-1860

Subjects: Frontiers and ExplorationGeography and Natural HistoryScience and TechnologyArt, Music, Theater, and FilmLiterature and Language ArtsAmerican Indian HistorySurveying

Sub Era: Age of Jackson

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