Books & Essays
A Journal of Travels into the Arkansas Territory During the Year 1819
University of Arkansas Press 1999
This is the famous naturalist Thomas Nuttall's only surviving complete journal of his American scientific explorations. Covering his travels in Arkansas and what is now Oklahoma, it is pivotal to an understanding of the Old Southwest in the early nineteenth century, when the United States was taking inventory of its acquisitions from Louisiana Purchase. The account is filled with valuable details on the plants, animals, and geology of the region, as well as penetrating observations of the resident native tribes, the military establishment at Fort Smith, the arrival of the first governor of Arkansas Territory, and the beginnings of white settlement. Originally published in 1980 by the University of Oklahoma Press, this fine edited version of Nuttall's work boasts a valuable introduction, notes, maps, and bibliography by Savoie Lottinville. The editor provided common names for those given in scientific classification and substituted modern genus and species names for the ones used orginally by Nuttall. The resulting journal is a delight to read for anyone?historian, researcher, visitor, resident, or enthusiast.
Book Review #1:
This is the journal of Thomas Nuttall who, in 1819, with $200 and a residual case of malaria,traveled from Philadelphia down the Ohio and the Mississippi to the Arkansas River and various of its tributaries. His journey extended as far west as the current site of Oklahoma City. His account of the plant and animal life, the geology and the streams of Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma are accurate, jargon-free and, in many cases, still definitive. His portrayals of the European and Native Americans he met are objective, unsentimental and unprejudiced. Througout the considerable dangers and difficulties he faced, he maintained, and conveyed, a refreshing sense of wonder at the natural world he explored, an attitude of realistic compassion for the people he encountered and a sense of the historical significance of what he witnessed. The journals are well-edited by Prof. Lottinville whose notes identify sites described by Mr. Nuttall with their current names and provide historical context for various events discussed in the book. This book is a great find for anyone interested in the land, history and people of Arkansas and Oklahoma.