Elisha Kent Kane Papers
Date: circa 1850-1857
Contributor: Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857
Subject: Grinnell Expedition | Arctic regions | Nunavut--History | Kayaks | Hunting | Clothing and dress | Architecture | Expeditions
Extent: .5 linear feet
Description: Philadelphia-born adventurer Elisha Kent Kane is perhaps best remembered for his involvement in both the First and Second Grinnell Expeditions (1850-1851 and 1853-1855, respectively) in search of lost Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin. The Elisha Kent Kane Papers also deal with Kane's other travels (to China, Africa, Mexico, etc.) as well as his rather scandalous personal life. During his time in the Arctic, Kane observed local Inuit peoples, and as an incessant doodler he created hundreds of images as well as textual records. Kane's observations of Inuits are located primarily in Series IV. Bound Volumes and Series V. Graphics. Series IV includes a notebook, a letterbook (with sketches, including images of Inuits kayaking), a logbook, a notebook of specimens located in the Arctic, a meteorological journal, and a diary from the First Grinnell Expedition, and two volumes of notebooks (with meteorological observations and sketches) from the Second Grinnell Expedition. Series V contains over 200 sketches, watercolors, silhouettes, maps, and engravings of Inuits of Baffin Bay drawn by Kane during both arctic expeditions. Primarily from the first trip, images include portraits of individuals in native attire, landscapes, dwellings, hunting tools, kayaks, and encampments. As noted above, Kane's log and notebooks are also dotted throughout with sketches. Of note in the Graphics series is a watercolor of an Inuit boy netting auks. Kane's published works, "The United States Grinnell expedition in search of Sir John Franklin (1853)" and "Arctic explorations: the second expedition…(1857)," include engravings of all his original drawings. These images are referenced in the sketch file, the finding aid contains a detailed inventory, and some have been digitized and are part of the APS Digital Library. There might also be some Inuit-related material in Series I. Correspondence and Series III. George W. Corner, Notes on Elisha Kent Kane. Corner prepared a biography of Kane, and this series includes copies of letters and documents relating to Kane and his expeditions held in other libraries, as well as some of Corner's notes and drafts of writings on Kane, including a copy of A.F.C. Wallace, "An interdisciplinary approach to mental disorder among the Polar Eskimos of Northwest Greenland."
Collection: Elisha Kent Kane Papers Mss.B.K132