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Document Number: AJ-100e
Author: Lewis, Meriwether, 1774-1809; Clark, William, 1770-1838
Title: Original Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, 1804-1806 [volume 5]
Source: Thwaites, Reuben Gold (editor). Original Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, 1804-1806. Printed from the Original Manuscripts in the Library of the American Philosophical Society and by Direction of Its Committee on Historical Documents, Together with Manuscript Material of Lewis and Clark from Other Sources, including Note-Books, Letters, Maps, etc., and the Journals of Charles Floyd and Joseph Whitehouse, Now for the First Time Published in Full and Exactly as Written. (New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1905). Volume 5.
Pages/Illustrations: 422 / 19
Citable URL:

Author Note

Meriwether Lewis (1774-1809); William Clark (1770-1838)

For a thorough summary of the Lewis and Clark Expedition's historical context and itinerary, and short biographies of both Clark and Lewis, see the 44-page introduction by the journals' editor, Reuben Gold Thwaites, in volume one (AJ-100a). For other documents related to the expedition, see AJ-090, AJ-097, AJ-140, AJ-146, AJ-147, and AJ-160.

Document Note

At least seven members of the expedition are known to have kept journals. One, by Sergeant Patrick Gass, was rushed into print in 1807. The others were turned over to editor Nicholas Biddle who, succeeded by Paul Allen, used them to produce the official History of the Expedition under the Command of Captains Lewis and Clark in 1814 (also online; see below). Biddle deposited most of the journals at the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia where they lay untouched for decades. Seventy-five years later Elliott Coues had them transcribed during work on his 1893 edition of the Biddle-Allen text, because he hoped to also produce an edition of all the journals. Other pursuits intervened, however, and the publisher engaged Reuben Gold Thwaites, superintendent of the Wisconsin Historical Society, to edit all the unpublished Lewis and Clark journals for the first time.

Thwaites, who had already edited many other historical documents, discovered hitherto unknown journals and included scientific notebooks that had never before been published. His eight-volume edition enabled three generations of scholars to gain countless new insights into Lewis and Clark. Thwaites did not find everything, however, and the first complete edition of the journals, prepared according to modern editorial standards by Dr. Gary Moulton for the University of Nebraska Press, was published in thirteen volumes, 1983-2001.

Note on the Illustrations

We have given here the text pages of the first seven volumes of Thwaites' edition (1904-1905), supplemented with additional illustrations. The Thwaites edition consisted of 750 “trade” copies illustrated with facsimiles from the Lewis and Clark manuscripts, and 200 “deluxe” copies illustrated with additional reproductions of paintings by Karl Bodmer (1809-1893), who journeyed up the Missouri in the 1830's. Bodmer's paintings originally appeared in Maximilian, Prince of Wied's Reise in das innere Nord-America in den Jahren 1832-1834 (Coblenz: J. Hölscher, 1839-1841). We have scanned the manuscript facsimiles from the trade edition, but replaced the deluxe edition's Bodmer copies with scans taken directly from the original nineteenth-century Bodmer prints. Images missing from the Wisconsin Historical Society collections have been omitted from our digital edition. Finally, we have not reproduced the atlas volume of the Thwaites edition because so many Lewis and Clark maps are already online at the Library of Congress American Memory project (

Other Internet and Reference Sources

The literature on Lewis and Clark is immense, both in print and on the web. For an online summary of it, see the 1904 bibliography by Victor Hugo Paltsits in document AJ-100a, pages lxi-xciii. This should be supplemented by The Literature of the Lewis and Clark Expedition: A Bibliography and Essays issued by Lewis and Clark College in 2003, for twentieth-century publications.

A useful starting point for information about the expedition is the Library of Congress online exhibit, "Rivers, Edens and Empires: Lewis and Clark and the Revealing of America," at

The National Archives has created many resources for teaching and learning about Lewis and Clark within its "We the People" web site at lewis_and_clark.html. This includes digitized documents, background texts, photographs, and lesson plans.

The official report of the expedition, Nicholas Biddle’s 1814 History of the Expedition Under the Command of Captains Lewis and Clark, to the Sources of the Missouri, Thence Across the Rocky Mountains and Down the River Columbia to the Pacific Ocean, is online at the Library of Congress “meeting of Frontiers” project at

Other documents relating to the expedition are part of its "Louisiana Purchase Legislative Timeline" at These include the House of Representatives report on the "Explorations of the Western Waters of the United States" by Lewis and Clark, various acts to compensate the explorers for their labors, and documents concerning their appointments as governors of Missouri and Louisiana after the expedition.

Two web sites built as part of the Lewis and Clark Expedition bicentennial also contain helpful information and links. The U.S. government's site at is a cooperative venture of 32 federal agencies. The non-governmental National Council of the Lewis & Clark Bicentennial is a joint effort by historical societies, Indian nations, scholars, businesses and all other interested parties; its web site is at

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