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Introduction From the time of Columbus, the American continent was seen by Europeans as a barrier between Europe and the Orient. A passage through it was the prime object of many voyages of exploration. Magellan had sailed around South America in 1520, but the icy northern shores were mysterious and seemed unassailable. The search for a sea route across the top of North America began in the 16th century as a commercial venture sponsored by London merchants. By the 19th century it was obvious that a Northwest Passage would not be a useful seaway, but finding it became an obsession, as did the attainment of the North Pole late in the century.

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This site documents two exploratory surveys of the Barren Lands region west of Hudson Bay, in northern Manitoba and Saskatchewan and the area now known as Nunavut. Drawing on materials from the J.B. Tyrrell, James Tyrrell and related collections at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto, it includes over 5,000 images from original field notebooks, correspondence, photographs, maps and published reports.

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The Printing House of the Family Blaeu: 17th Century Cartographic Printing from the Netherlands During the seventeenth century the people of the seventeen united provinces of the Netherlands experienced a period of tremendous economic prosperity. As a water-logged society with few land-based natural resources of their own, the Dutch developed into a highly efficient maritime culture that feverishly explored the globe to find goods that were in demand on the continental European market. Along with numerous advances in the fields of science, industry, business, and linguistics, the Dutch also became experts at book and cartographic printing.

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About the Collection The First American West presents a digital resource created from selections drawn from the collections of the Filson Historical Society and the University of Chicago. Each of these institutions has realized the critical role that primary source material plays in the research and teaching of history. The First American West draws on the interconnected holdings of the two institutions to create an integrated collection that preserves critical primary sources and presents a fuller and more diverse picture of the exploration and settlement of the trans-Appalachian west. The Filson Historical Society's origins and the University of Chicago's holdings on the trans-Appalachian west both have their roots in the activities of Reuben T. Durrett (1824-1913).

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The fourth in a series of online collections from Harvard University, Expeditions and Discoveries delivers maps, photographs, and published materials, as well as field notes, letters, and a unique range of manuscript materials on selected expeditions between 1626 and 1953. The collection is made possible with the generous support of the Arcadia Fund . In the 19th and 20th centuries, Harvard University played a significant role—as underwriter, participant, collector, and repository—for pace-setting expeditions around the world. For Internet users, Expeditions and Discoveries provides selective access to Harvard’s multidisciplinary records of those expeditions.

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