||Kalm, Pehr, 1716-1779
||Travels into North America [volume 1]
||Kalm, Peter. Travels into North America; Containing Its Natural History, and a Circumstantial Account of Its Plantations and Agriculture in General, with the Civil, Ecclesiastical and Commercial State of the Country, the Manners of the Inhabitants, and Several Curious and Important Remarks on Various Subjects. By Peter Kalm. Translated into English by John Reinhold Forster. Enriched with a Map, Several Cuts for the Illustration of Natural History, and Some Additional Notes. The Second Edition. In Two Volumes. (London: Printed for T. Lowndes, 1773). Volume 1.
||433 / 7 (1 table)
Pehr Kalm (1716-1779), whose name is sometimes found in
English as Peter Kalm, was the son of a Lutheran minister. He
was born in Angermanland, Sweden, in 1716, and attended college
in Finland before moving to Uppsala University in Sweden in
1740. Here he studied under the great scientist Linnaeus (Carl
von Linné), who became his friend as well as mentor. Linnaeus
was most interested in organizing all plants and animals into a
coherent system of names and relationships. Our modern system of
Latin binomials originated with his work. After the trip
described ehre, Kalm devoted most of his remaining years to
caring for, studying and lecturing about the American plants he
brought home to Sweden. He received further academic honors,
lectured widely, and became a Lutheran clergyman before his
death in 1779.
Expedition to America, 1748-1751
As Europeans fanned out across Asia, Africa, and the Americas
during the 18th century, students and colleagues of Linneaus
kept a steady stream of specimens flowing back to the great
systematizer in Uppsala. As one of Linnaeus’ best students, Kalm
was selected in 1747 to travel to North America to collect seeds
of plants that might prove useful for agriculture and industry.
Kalm arrived in Pennsylvania in 1748 and made his base of
operations the Swedish ex-patriate communities in southern New
Jersey, where he served as pastor of a local church and married
in 1750. He made trips as far west as Niagara Falls and as far
north as Quebec before returning to Sweden in 1751. Although
botany was his main reason for traveling, Kalm trained his
scientist's eye on all aspects of American culture and his
careful, dispassionate observations show colonial settlement
life in great detail.
Kalm's journal of his travels was published in Stockholm,
Sweden, as En Resa til Norra America in three volumes
between 1753 and 1761. Before that, his short account of his
visit to Niagara Falls had been published in John Bartram's
Observations... (London, 1751). The first English
translation of the complete work appeared in 1770-71; the second
edition in only two volumes, which omits his visit to England,
is given here.
We have not included the map which accompanied the volumes:
"A New and Accurate Map of Part of North America"
because it is available at the American Memory Project at http://memory.loc.gov.
Other Internet and Reference Sources
The short article, "Peter Kalm, Early Plant Explorer" by
Janice Stiefel in the journal Wisconsin Flora, Sept. 2002
more details of his life as well as a portrait.
For additional information on Linnaeus, with excellent links
to sites that include online editions of his works, see the
Univ. of California at Berkeley's Museum of Paleontology site: