At a Glance


Why did seven years pass between the Lewis and Clark Expedition and their journals' publication?

University of Virginia

Biddle Edition Archive

In 1806, Merriweather Lewis and William Clark returned from their expedition through the Louisiana Purchase lands newly acquired by the United States. Though President Thomas Jefferson wanted a published account of their travels released before public interest waned, Lewis and Clark's journals were not published until 1814, in an edition edited and complied by Nicholas Biddle and Paul Allen. This website presents 16 newspaper articles, more than 60 letters, and 18 images spanning the years from 1803 to 1826 detailing how and why seven years elapsed between Lewis and Clark's journey and the publication of their journals. These materials shed light not only on the controversies surrounding the publication of the journals, but on the content of Lewis and Clark's expedition, including their diplomatic relations with Indian nations and their discoveries in the field of natural science, as well as on the publishing industry in the early 19th century.

A good place to begin is the project's "Overview," the last page of which contains links to a timeline of the journals' publication history and a link to the full text of the Biddle/Allen edition of the journals, including all eight volumes of their original journals, the two-volume published version, and an account of the expedition by Corps of Discovery member Patrick Gass. All materials are also organized by people, places, and Indian nations mentioned, as well as by genre (letters, newspapers, magazines/reviews), and are keyword searchable.