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The travels of Joseph Beal Steere in Brazil, Peru and Ecuador (1870-1873)

Nelson Papavero, William L. Overal, Dante M. Teixeira, Janet Hinshaw

Abstract


Joseph Beal Steere (1842-1940) was sent by the University of Michigan in a trip around the world, from 1870 (September) to 1875, to collect materials in all departments of natural and human sciences for the University's Museum. He went from New York to Brazil (São Luís, Maranhão), proceeding up the Amazon, and spent about eighteen months on that river and some of its tributaries. Arrived at the head of navigation of the Amazon, at the mouth of the Río Santiago (Peru), he floated back two hundred miles on a raft, to reach the mouth of the Huallaga. He ascended this river to Yurimaguas, going thence across the Andes. He made part of the journey on foot and horseback; on the way he spent some time in the old cities of Moyobamba, Chachapoyas and Cajamarca. He struck the sea-coast at a town called Huanchaco, near the city of Trujillo; thence he went to Lima; and from there to Guayaquil; and thence, overland, to Quito, continually adding to his store of specimens. While at Quito, he ascended the volcano Pichincha and went to the bottom of the crater. He returned from Quito to Lima and made an excursion along the coast of Peru, collecting old Peruvian pottery from graves, etc. From Lima he went to Cerro de Pasco mining regions, making collections of minerals. Returning to Lima, he crossed the Pacific in a ship bound for Macao, China. From Macao he jouneyed successively to Hong Kong and Canton; from Canton to the Island of Formosa, where he spent six or eight months making journeys among the savages of the interior. From Formosa he went, via Hong Kong and Canton, to the Philippine Islands, and spent ten months there; he visited several places never before visited by naturalists, and found forty new species of birds. From the Philippines he went to Singapore, thence to Malacca, and made a trip through the Dutch Moluccas, touching at several places in the islands of Java, Macassar, Amboina and Ternate. From these islands he returned to Singapore, and from there, via Suez Canal and the Mediterranean, to Marseilles, stopping at Naples. He went through France by rail and via London and Liverpool went home, after an absence of little more than three years. Periodically he wrote letters telling of his adventures and impressions, with notes on the regions visited, to a weekly magazine edited in Ann Arbor, the Peninsular Courier and Family Visitant, where they were published. The 62 letters written by Steere in South America (Brazil, Peru and Ecuador) are here transcribed and commented.

Keywords


Joseph Beal Steere;Travels;Brazilian Amazonia;Peru;Ecuador;Letters

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.11606/issn.2176-7793.v39i2p87-269

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