Friday, March 21, 2008

Champlain Collection

Champlain Collection: "The collection contains eighty-three of the Champlain Society's most important volumes (over 41,000 printed pages) dealing with exploration and discovery over three centuries. It includes first-hand accounts of Samuel de Champlain's voyages in New France as well as the diary from Sir John Franklin's first land expedition to the Arctic, 1819-22."

There are some important sources for early PNW history here, including the narratives of Gabriel Franchére, George Simpson, and David Thompson. And the collections are searchable across the volumes. Just as a quick example of the riches in the Champlain Collection, here is this 1843 letter from Archibald McKinlay at Fort Nez Perces, reflecting on the American invasion of the northwest that was just beginning to arrive via the Oregon Trail:

"Although the Columbia is becoming quite a stirring place I do not know of much news that might be interesting to you[.] Americans are getting thick as Mosquettoes in this part of the world-- A party of about 300 individuals, Men, women, & children came up from the States last year for the Willamette and a much greater number are expected ensuing season.-- That Colony in increasing very fast and Yankee industry will I have no doubt make it a very thriving settlement ere long.--"

And also the following, from the journals of Alexander Henry, concerning the death of a slave woman who was held by the Chinooks and sold to service white traders and Indian men alike in the early 19th century. I used the quote in an article about native women and exploration that I never managed to publish. I think it is the most sad thing I ever read:

"Mr Franchere went down to desire Calpoh's family to come and remove the body of their deceased Slave Girl, and bury it, least the Hogs might devour it. They did so accordingly, but removed it in a most barbarous Savage manner, by dragging it down to the water, by fastening a cord about the neck, and perfectly naked, and towed it along the beach for some distance, where they squeezed the body in a Hole, pushed it down with a Paddle, and covered it over witht he Stones and Dirt. The Body was in a most wretched state of the last Stage of Venereal, black and Swollen and not the least care taken to conceal the parts from bystanders."

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