Dorothy Jean Ray, letter, to Edward Connery Lathem, 1970 July 9





3001 Veazey Terrace N. W. #317 Washington, D. C. 20008 9 July 1970

Mr. Edward Connery Lathem Librarian of the College Dartmouth College Library Hanover, New Hampshire 03755

Dear Mr. Lathem:

I was delighted to get your letter of 2 July yesterday with your encouraging news, and as soon as I can get together with Mrs. Jo -sephson, I shall send you copies of original pages with translations. Because so little of this particular journey was needed for my exact geographic area, we translated most of the applicable parts orally after I had read through the articles. We shall, therefore, write down various parts for your consideration.

When I send you the pages and translations, I shall also send the exact pages with approximate number of words, although I think it is around 48,000 words. Adding an introduction and explanatory notes might put it somewhere around 55,000 words, although this is just a rough guess. If the project meets with your approval, the translation and tping costs will not exceed $750.00. I do not expect any compensation for my editing of Mrs. Josephson's translation or for writing introductory material or notes. I will just be happy to see it published as an addition to our knowledge of the north, and would be very much interested in your exploring publication possibilities if it meets your expectations.

Here is the history of this project, and an outline of the material to be included so that you will know its exact scope and can further form an opinion about it.

Working up this material has been somewhat like following a detective story. I have been gathering material for an ethnohistory of the Bering Strait Eskimos for about 10 years, but the writing has been considerably slowed by writing numerous other papers and books, not mention taking time out to learn to read Russian. This was necessary because I am utilizing explorers' first-hand observations of early Eskimo life, and a number of these accounts were untranslated. After I had gained a certain control over the Russian I set out to track down the voyages mentioned casually in some of the general histories of Alaska. I have had no success in some quarters, but (I think!) a spectacular success with Vasiliev's and Shishmarev's expedition, which started out from Europe in 1819 and spent the years 1820 and 1821 in the arctic as far north as Icy Cape, Alaska.

Last edit 4 months ago by Daniel Lin



This expedition has received almost not attention in our English histories of Alaska, and so far I have not seen it mentioned in the Russian. Bancroft (p. 526) said, "No report of the expedition is extant," and neither Andrews (The Story of Alaska) or Hulley (Alaska, 1741-1953) mention it at all. Dall in Alaska and its History devotes only 62 words to it, without documentation, in a chronological listing of historical evernts (pp. 331, 332).

My first step in this search was to consult the Arctic Bibliography, which did not yield any results. My next step was to consult Wickersham's Bibliography of Alaskan Literature, 17241924, where I found three items, Nos. 6287, 6291, and 6292 pertaining to the journey. The first one is the long account that I mentioned in my letter to Peter-- an account of the two-year voyage of the Good Intent written by K. K. Hillsen, who was under Shishmarev. It contains valuable ethnographic and historic information about Alaska, St. Lawrence Island and Siberia. The second item contains only progress reports in 1820 of a few pages. No. 6292, I discovered, is a considerably shortened version of Hillsen's account written in German.

Of the above, we shall translate the Hillsen article and the progress reports, but there are two other articles that I want to include , and which I found purely by accident. During my incarceration in the Library of Congress last fall I checked the tables of contents of all journals that I thought might contain articles about the expeditions to Bering Strait: Morskoi Sbornik, Otechestvennye zapiski (in which Hillsen's three-part article appeared), Sievernyi arkhiv, Syn otechestva, and Zapiski Gidrograficheskago Detartamenta, etc., and the more recent journals and state and national ethnographic and historical series. In Zapiski Gidr. Dep. for 1851 I found the article, "Svedeniia o Chukchakh, Capt. Shishmarev." which contains his observations of the Chukchi in his journey of 1821.

Then, by pure change, I discovered Vassili Berkh's Khronologicheskaia istoriia vseikh puteshestvii v sievernyia poliarnyia strany (Chonological history of all voyages to the Arctic), volumes I and II, 1821, 1823, in an uncatalogued collection of books that had come to the Smithsonian Libraries from William H. Dall's estate. I had inquired about Dall's manuscript collection, now in the Smithsonian, and the librarian Mr. Marquardt gave me permission to look through Dall's wonderful collection of books, which has now been broken up and is in the process of being catalogued.

I had never heard of this publication before (Berkh's history of the discovery of the Aleutians in well known and has even been translated). In volume two of the Chronological history of the voyages are good summaries of various northern expenditions up to the date of publication, including Vasiliev's and Shishmarev's two-year voyage.

At that time I had not see Lada-Mocarski's Bibliography of Books on

Last edit 4 months ago by Daniel Lin
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Alaska published before 1868 (Yale 1969), but I found that he discusses this book under his No. 88, page 312. However, he says that this is Wickersham's No. 6585, 5685 but in checking the Wickersham, I find that 6585 refers to Berkh's Aleutian Island history. Therefore, LadaMocarski's Bibliography is the first reference to this publication, although I vaguely recall a reference in some German account to something like "Berkh's journeys to the north" -- I can't dredge it up at the moment. The Library of Congress does not have Volume II of this history--only Volume I, which has only a little applicable [?? for] Alaska.

Therefore, my entire project is this: Combine Berkh's summary of the expedition, Hillsen's account of the Good Intent (1820-1821), Shishmarev's observations of the Chukchi (1821), and the short progress reports into one publication about this expedition. It will be tied together with my bibliographic observations and an introduction and notes that will place it historically and ethnographically, geographically, etc. with northern affairs at that time, including the overlapping journeys of Khromchenko and Etolin in 1821 and 1822.

I have just finished this chapter of Russian exploration so all of the material is still fresh in mind.

I shall forward the pages and translations as soon as Mrs. Josephson and I have been able to get together, hopefully this week-end.

With best of wishes, and many thanks,

Sincerely yours,

Dorothy Jean Ray

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