Status: Indexed

3001 Veazey Terrace N. W., #317
Washington, D. C. 20008
28 June 1970

Mr. Peter B. Dirlam
Box 416
Southbridge, Mass. o1550

Dear Peter:

I have come up with an idea for and interesting project, but I'm
writing you to see if you can give me information that might help
solve a little problem of possible sources of funds for translating.

The writing of my ethnohistory has been at a stanstill for many
months because of my Russian translating. I believe that I told you
that I had taught myself to read Russian as a sort of survival
measure-sink or swim-in the oceans of valuable material locked up
in the Cyrillic alphabet. I'm not especially good, but I have been
able to accomplish everything I set out to do.

myThis particular project has to do with Vasiliev's and Shishmaref's two-year ex-
pedition to the arctic (Kotzebeu Sound, northern Siberia, etc.) in
1820 and 1821. This expedition has rarely been mentioned in books
and articles about Alaskan history. Bancroft in his History of Alaska
said, "No report of the expedition is extant" (thought he had hired
Ivan Petroff as full-time translator), and neither Andrews or Hulley
even mentions it. In the course of buring myself in the Library of
I have found five accounts of this expedition, four in Russian
and one in German. Three of these should be translated for the use and
enjoyment of those who cannot read Russian. It will add a missing
chapter to exploration of the North.

The longest account by K. K. Hillsen (about 35,000 Russian words) was written by a man
aboard the Good Intent (Shishmaref's ship) and was published in three
installments in a journal in 1849. It is primarily about the doings
of the Good Intent in both 1820 and 1821, but also mentions a great
deal about Vasiliev's movements. A second account is a summary of
this article in German, published in 1851.

A third account is about an 18 page or 4000 word summary of the entire
expedition by Vasilii Berkh, and published in 1823. A fourth account
is merely a summary of this. A fifth account is a very interesting
article of about 8000 words containing Shishmaref's observations about
the Chukchi in 1821.

Because my Russian is strictly of a home-grown variety, I take important
passages to a Russian-born friend who translates for me verbatim. How-
ever, we have translated very little of this expedition because the

Stef. does not have those.

Notes and Questions

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Vasiliev and Shishmarev names are spelled several different ways on this page