Wilkes' U.S. Exploring Expedition Sets Out

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The United States Exploring Expedition (1838-1842) under Captain Charles Wilkes leaves from Norfolk, Virginia. On board was a group of "scientifics" charged with studying all the areas visited. Over the next four years, the Wilkes Expedition will circumnavigate the globe, sending back collections of natural history specimens and cultural artifacts. The resulting collection, deposited in the Patent Office, will be transferred to the Smithsonian in 1858.


  • Wilkes, Charles 1798-1877
  • Patent Office Building (POB)
  • United States Exploring Expedition (USEE)
  • United States National Museum
  • United States Patent Office
  • National Collections


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1858, p. 49, 52
  • Viola, Herman J. and Carolyn Margolis, editors. Magnificent Voyagers, p. 10

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520, SIHistory@si.edu


August, 1838


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