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Harriman Expedition Retraced



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Lesson Plan
Lesson Plans

Extra Credit
Instructional Guide

Extra Credit
Extra Credit


Key Figures of the 1899
Harriman Alaska Expedition


Grade Level: 7th through 12th

Subjects: Science, history, language arts, art

Time Needed for Completion: Three to four fifty-minute class periods

Objectives for students

  • To gain general knowledge of the goals, route, participants, and significance of the 1899 Harriman Expedition
  • To link names of glaciers, fiords, mountains, flora and fauna with names of the 1899 Harriman Expedition participants
  • To discover the existence of specialized fields of science
  • To research the impact on American scientific knowledge and culture made by the 1899 Harriman Expedition.



  • Correlates to the National Science Education Standards.
  • Students will be familiar with the history and nature of science.
  • Students will understand science as a human endeavor.
  • Students will understand the nature of scientific knowledge
  • Students will be familiar with historical perspectives in science. (Standard G)

Language Arts:

  • Correlates to national standards set by MCREL.
  • Gathers and uses information for research purposes (Standard 4)
  • Uses the general skills and strategies of the reading process (Standard 5)
  • Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media (Standard 9)


  • Correlates to standards set by the National Arts Education Association
  • Students should be able to relate various types of arts knowledge and skills within and across the arts disciplines. (Standard 5)


  • Correlates to standards set by National Council for Geographic Education.
  • How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools and technologies to acquire, process, and report information. (Standard 1)
  • How culture and experience influence people’s perception of places and regions. (Standard 3)
  • The patterns and networks of human interdependence on Earth’s surface (Standard 11)
  • How to apply geography to interpret the past. (Standard 17)


  • Students will need computer with Internet access an Alaska Atlas showing details and names of land formations for class to share.
  • The teacher should provide biographical dictionaries for classroom research. Examples are listed in the resource section below.
  • Each student will need a copy of the Harriman Expedition Research Assignment worksheet, a copy of a recent Alaska state map with cities and villages visited by the 1899 Harriman Alaska Expedition.



  • If there is any single element that sets the Harriman apart from other expeditions of the day, it is the group of scientists, artists and writers that traveled on the Elder in 1899.
  • This was an educated group, with credentials impressive in any age. Harriman recruited a veritable Who's Who of American Science: the chief of the U.S. Biological Survey, the Chief Forester of the Department of Agriculture -- Director of the California Academy of Sciences -- founder of the Audubon Society -- head of the U.S. Geological Survey – President of the American Ornithologists’ Union -- President of the Sierra Club – the top geologists, botanists, foresters, ornithologists, paleontologists and zoologists in the country.
  • This lesson plan is based on biographical material from the PBS Harriman Expedition Web site. Students will have an opportunity to study the Harriman group, and to focus on one of the key figures who traveled with the expedition.

Introductory Reading and Class Discussion:

Students should read the material dealing with history and biography on the Web site, particularly the material found in the 1899 Expedition section. They should also review the route map found in the Expedition Maps section of the site.

When reading is completed, lead the class in a discussion of the &emdash;who, what, when, where, why, how?&emdash; of the expedition.

After the web site review, have the students look at materials suggested in the Extra Credit section of the For Educators and Students pages on this site. If possible, have these materials in the classroom.

Break the class into small working groups, and assign each group one of the key figures from the trip. Choose from those men for whom students may most readily find information. Suggestions are George B. Grinnell, John Burroughs, John Muir, William H. Dall, Edward S. Curtis, C. Hart Merriam, G.K. Gilbert, and Harriman himself. Students can choose lesser known figures, including Charles Keeler or Trevor Kincaid, but information on these figures is more difficult to track down.

Using the worksheet below to complete the assignment. Teachers may choose to collect from each student, or from each group.

Assessment Suggestions

  • Students can be assessed for their participation in the classroom brainstorming session preceding the actual research
  • Students can be assessed for how thoroughly and correctly they completed the assignment
  • Students can be assessed on the quality of their group presentation (see Extensions/Adaptations).


  • Teachers may choose to have groups present their findings to the class as a short oral presentation with poster, map and/or other visual aids.


  • Lord, Nancy, Green Alaska – Dreams from the Far Coast. Counterpoint, Washington, D.C. 1999.
  • Goetzmann, William H. and Sloan, Kay, Looking Far North- The Harriman Expedition to Alaska, 1899. Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1982.
  • Parry, Melanie, ed., Chambers Biographical Dictionary. Larousse Chambers, Inc., 1997.
  • Crystal, David, Cambridge Biographical Encyclopedia. Cambridge University Press, 1994.


Harriman Alaska Expedition Research Worksheet

My group researched ____________________________________
(fill in name of HAE participant).

Our research found the following reasons that ________________________________________
(name of HAE participant)

was famous or well-known before 1899 (“claim to fame”), and was therefore selected to go on this all-expense paid trip to Alaska:




Were any animals or plants, glaciers, fjords, mountains or other landmarks named for ______________________________
(fill in the name of HAE participant)??

If yes, what were they? (Hint: before answering “no”, check the site completely. Information on the namings is included on the perspective maps found in the Expedition Maps section, and on the Itinerary for 1899.)

Reasons ___________________________________ (fill in name of HAE participant) was famous after 1899. (Did his studies or work on the Expedition lead to more fame or respect from peers or other people? Why do you think you can find information about this person – what sets him apart from others?)




What was the career, field of study or specialty of this person named ___________________________________?


Be as specific as possible, examples include naturalist, glaciologist, mammalogist, etc. Some men may have more than one specialty.

List at least two other facts your group discovered about the person named _________________________________________.



Prepared by Lorraine Rohweder, Bartlett High School, Anchorage, Alaska.





For information on the Harriman Retraced Expedition e-mail: harriman2001@science.smith.edu

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