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Kesler Woodward: The 1899 Harriman Expedition Retraced


Summary Note

Kesler Woodward: The 1899 Harriman Expedition Retraced contains materials related to Woodward’s personal painting practice and his participation in the recreated Harriman Expedition. Materials include catalogs, maps, sketches, correspondence, essays, articles and digital imagery.

Biographical Note

Born in Aiken, South Carolina in 1951, Kesler Woodward lives in Fairbanks, Alaska. He moved to Alaska in 1977, and served as Curator of Visual Arts at the Alaska State Museum and as Artistic Director of the Visual Arts Center of Alaska before moving to Fairbanks in 1981. He is currently Professor of Art, Emeritus at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where he taught for two decades, serving as Chair of the Art Department and as Chair of the Division of Arts and Communications. He serves on the board of the Alaska Arts and Culture Foundation and on the board of trustees of the Western States Arts Federation. In 2001 he was appointed the Harriman Scholar and Expedition Artist for the 1899 Harriman Expedition Retraced. The original expedition explored the coast of Alaska for two months, from Seattle to Siberia and back again.

Woodward's paintings are included in all major public art collections in Alaska, and in museum, corporate and private collections on both coasts of the United States. Also an art historian and curator, Woodward since 1990 has published six books on Alaskan art, including the first comprehensive survey of the fine arts in Alaska, Painting in the North, published by the Anchorage Museum and University of Washington Press in 1993. In October, 2004, Kesler Woodward received the Alaska Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts. In 2012 he received the Rasmuson Foundation Distinguished Alaskan Artist Fellowship.

Scope and Content

In the late 1890s railroad tycoon Edward H. Harriman, one of the most powerful men in America, decided to conduct one of the most ambitious scientific expeditions the world had ever seen. He invited the top authorities in the country: geologists, botanists, foresters, ornithologists, paleontologists, zoologists, painters, photographers, writers—at least two of each—to join him on a 9000-mile exploration of the coast of Alaska. Many were famous—John Muir, John Burroughs, and George Bird Grinnell—and a few were still obscure—the young painter Louis Agassiz Fuertes and the unknown photographer Edward Curtis.

In 2001 Thomas Litwin of Smith College led a trip to follow the path of the original expedition. Two dozen scientists, artists, and writers left Prince Rupert, British Columbia aboard the Clipper Odyssey, which followed the itinerary of E. H. Harriman's lavishly-outfitted George W. Elder. They sailed through the Inside Passage, the Gulf of Alaska, the Aleutian Archipelago, and northward through the Bering Sea. Four weeks later they made their final stop in Nome. The Harriman Expedition Retraced, went to exactly the same places to see what the effects of the 20th century had wrought on Alaska. "What we are doing," said historian William Cronon, "is seeing this landscape at two moments in time. We're seeing it through that expedition in 1899 and seeing it at the beginning of the 21st Century and we're asking, "What's the change? What are the dynamics of history that have brought us here, and what do they tell us about where we are headed?"

In 2001 Woodward was appointed the Harriman Scholar and Expedition Artist for the 1899 Harriman Expedition Retraced. The archive contains materials related to Woodward’s personal painting practice and his participation in the recreated Harriman Expedition. Materials include catalogs, maps, sketches, correspondence, essays, articles, exhibition ephemera, awards, and digital imagery.


Kesler Woodward: The 1899 Harriman Expedition Retraced is organized into two series. Series 1 focuses on the artistic career of Kesler Woodward. Series 2 focuses on the 1899 Harriman Expedition Retraced.
  • Series 1: Kesler Woodward
  • Series 2: The 1899 Harriman Expedition Retraced

Inclusive Dates


Bulk Dates


Quantity / Extent

.5 cubic feet


English, French, Russian

Related Archive Collections

  • CAE1202: David Rosenthal: Paintings of the North and South Polar Regions

Related Publications

Anchorage Museum of History and Art, and Kesler E. Woodward. Painting in the North: Alaskan Art in the Anchorage Museum of History and Art. Seattle, WA: Anchorage Museum of History and Art, 1993.

Dartmouth College, and John Sloan Dickey Endowment for International Understanding. Northern Notes. Hanover, N.H.: Dartmouth College, 1991.

Hass, Robert. Measure. Firefily Press at Stumptown Printers, Portland, Oregon. 2005.

Klass, Margo, and Frank Soos. Double Moon. Granada Hills, CA: Red Hen Press, 2009.

Litwin, Thomas S. The Harriman Alaska Expedition Retraced: A Century of Change, 1899 – 2001. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2005.

Morgan, John, and Kesler E. Woodward. River of Light: A Conversation with Kabir. Fairbanks, AK: University of Alaska Press, 2014.

Shumaker, Peggy, and Kesler E. Woodward. Blaze: Poems. Los Angeles, CA: Red Hen Press, 2005.

Shumaker, Peggy. Long before we got here, long after we're gone. Black Egg Press, Fairbanks, Alaska. 2008

Soos, Frank. Bamboo Fly Rod Suite Reflections on Fishing and the Geography of Grace. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1999.

University of Alaska Museum, Aldona Jonaitis, Susan McInnis, and Alvin Amason. Looking North: Art from the University of Alaska Museum. Seattle: Published for the University of Alaska Museum by the University of Washington Press, 1998.

Woodward, Kesler E. Communities, Disaster, and Change. Valdez, AK: Valdez Museum & Historical Archive, 2014.

Woodward, Kesler E. Sydney Laurence, Painter of the North. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press in association with the Anchorage Museum of History and Art, 1990.

Woodward, Kesler E., and Eustace Paul Ziegler. Spirit of the North: The Art of Eustace Paul Ziegler. Augusta, Ga: Morris Communications Corp. in association with the Anchorage Museum of History and Art and the Morris Museum of Art, 1998.

Woodward, Kesler E., and Fred Machetanz. A Northern Adventure: The Art of Fred Machetanz. Augusta, GA: Morris Communications Co., 2004.

Woodward, Kesler, Painting Alaska, Anchorage, Alaska: Alaska Geographic Society, 2000.

Woodward, Kesler. A Sense of Wonder. Fairbanks, AK: University of Alaska, 1995.

Woodward, Kesler. Visions of Alaska: Highlights from the Morris Communications Company Collection. Augusta, GA: Morris Communications Co. LLC., 2003.

Container Listing by Series:

CAE1510/1 Series 1: Kesler Woodward, Artist Information, 1970-2015

Series 1 includes ephemera collected by and about Kesler Woodward related to his artistic career. Materials include newspaper and magazine articles, essays, digital imagery, copies of sketches, exhibition ephemera, and awards.
  • CAE Box 98

    • 1-1 Artwork Images, 1970-1979, 1970-1979
    • 1-2 Artwork Images, 1980-1989, 1980-1989
    • 1-3 Artwork Images, 1990-1999, 1990-1999
    • 1-4 Artwork Images, 2000-2006, 2000-2006
    • 1-5 Images used in Publication, 1997-2013
    • 1-6 Writings, 1978-2006
    • 1-7 Awards, 2012
    • 1-8 Exhibition Ephemera, 1982-2015
    • 1-9 Press, 1983-2012

Additional Materials

  • CAE S-Box 34 Oversized Items

    • 1-4#8 Denali Highway September, Photograph, 2000
    • 1-4#14 Chena Twilight, Photograph, 2000
    • 1-4#21 South Boundary, Photograph, 2000
    • 1-4#22 At Papa's Cabin, Photograph, 2000
    • 1-4#25 Boundary Ridge, Photograph, 2000
    • 1-4#26 Theodore's Place, Photograph, 2000
    • 1-4#44 Perfect Day at Denali, Photograph, 2001
    • 1-4#46 Denali Spring, Photograph, 2001
    • 1-4#54 High Country, Photograph, 2001
    • 1-4#56 Creamer's Field Spring, Photograph, 2001
    • 1-4#68 High Country II, Photograph, 2002
    • 1-4#77 Couple, Photograph, 2002
    • 1-4#87 Seasons of Praise - Spring, Photograph, 2002
    • 1-4#88 Seasons of Praise - Summer, Photograph, 2002
    • 1-4#89 Seasons of Praise - Fall, Photograph, 2002
    • 1-4#90 Seasons of Praise - Winter, Photograph, 2002
    • 1-4#97 Polychrome Passages, Photograph, 2002
    • 1-4#98 Bright Birch, Photograph, 2002
    • 1-4#108 Denali Shadows, Photograph, 2003
    • 1-4#112 Colors of Winter, Photograph, 2003
    • 1-4#116 Melt, Photograph, 2003

CAE1510/2 Series 2: The 1899 Harriman Expedition Retraced, 1985-2003

Series 2 contains items related to the 1899 Harriman Expedition Retraced that occurred in 2001. Materials include maps, brochures, voyage logs, a hand-written journal, correspondence and informational documents, press release, itinerary, press, and photographs.
  • CAE Box 98

    • 2-1 Research Materials, 1985-2001
    • 2-2 Participant Lists, 2001
    • 2-3 Travel Logistics, 2001
    • 2-4 Expedition Route, 2000-2001
    • 2-5 Expedition Logs and Full Itinerary, 2001
    • 2-6 Itinerary, Harriman I, 7/21/2001-8/4/2001
    • 2-7 Itinerary, Harriman II, 8/4/2001-8/20/2001
    • 2-8 Kesler Woodward’s Journal, 7/21/2001-8/18/2001
    • 2-9 Expedition Outcomes: Education Guide and Video, 2000-2003
    • 2-10 Press and Articles, 2001-2002
    • 2-11 Consequent Artworks, 2001-2002

Additional Materials

  • CAE Flat File F2 Oversized Items

    • 2-4#2 Alaska, International Travel Maps, 2000
  • CAE S-Box 34 Oversized Items

    • 2-11#6 Columbia Glacier, Photograph, 2001
    • 2-11#54 Iceberg - Desolation Sound, Photograph, 2002
    • 2-11#55 Cape Fox Morning, Photograph, 2002