Smithsonian African Expedition (1909)

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Immediately following the end of his service as President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt lead the Expedition to Eastern Africa with his son, Kermit, serving as Expedition Photographer. The Smithsonian, through anonymous private donations, funded the three naturalists who worked on the Expedition in return for the receipt of live and preserved specimens. Edgar Alexander Mearns was selected as head naturalist and bird-collector, Edmund Heller was to care for the large mammals, and John Alden Loring was to have charge of the small mammal collecting. The party left New York March 23, 1909 and sailed for British East Africa. The route took them through the Azores, Gibraltar, Naples, Messina, the Suez Canal and Ismailya, Aden and Italian Somaliland to Mombasa in British East Africa on April 21. From there, the expedition traveled by the Uganda Railway to Kapiti Plains where their safari awaited them. The party followed a route that took them to Nairobi, the vicinity of Mt. Kenja, the Loita Plains, Lake Victoria, Lake Albert and up the Nile to Khartoum. The expedition broke up there on March 14, 1910. The official photographer for the expedition was Roosevelt's son Kermit, although other members of the party also took a number of photographs, especially Edmund Heller. The result was that the United States National Museum acquired approximately 1,000 skins of large mammals, 4,000 of small mammals, and other specimens totaling approximately 11,400 items. About 10,000 plant specimens were also obtained, as well as a small collection of ethnological objects.

Date Range

1909 - 1910


  • Animals
  • Zoology
  • Birds
  • Mammalogy
  • Plants
  • Ornithology
  • Botany


  • Africa
  • Sudan
  • Kenya


Expedition name