Alexander von Humboldt’s American Travel Diaries

Alexander von Humboldt’s diaries are, besides his letters, the most important surviving original documents of his travels. At the end of 2013, the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation) acquired Humboldt’s American travel diaries. This purchase was made possible by generous financial support from public and private donors.

Alexander von Humboldt travelled through Central and South America from 1799 to 1804. During this period, he produced nearly 4,000 pages of notes, sketches, measurements, and accounts of his travels – some written in German and some in French. They testify to research of equal importance to both the natural sciences and the cultural sciences. He made contributions to many branches that began to differentiate during the nineteenth century, such as astronomy, botany, geography, history, geology, climatology, cartography, cultural anthropology, plant geography, philology, philosophy, seismology, linguistics, zoology and contemporary history.

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