Berlin State Library (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz)


Alexander von Humboldt

Voyage d’Espagne aux Canaries et à Cumaná Obs. astron. de Juin à Oct. 1799

The first volume of Humboldt's American Travel Journals, which is published here in its entirety for the first time, describes Humboldt's journey from his departure in Spain to his visit to the Canary Islands, his arrival in Cumaná (today Venezuela) and his time there (1799/1800). The multitude of data collected, treatises on plant geography, botany, geosciences, climate, economy and trade, protocols of experiments and on-site encounters, the use of the most modern instruments and mathematical methods of the time not only show the tireless researcher Humboldt and his typical way of organising knowledge, but are also of great value for biodiversity and climate research today.

Edited by Carmen Goetz and Ulrike Leitner

To the edited text


Ulrike Leitner

„Ich habe es mir zur Pflicht gemacht, alle angegebenen Beobachtungen ohne Auswahl in mein Tagebuch einzutragen.“

The travel journals have a complex structure. Our current research results should facilitate the reader's introduction. The chronological sequence of the journey is presented in the overall context of the journals as well as writings and scientific topics of the first major stage of the journey: astronomical positioning, measuring instruments and methodology, cartography, geodesy, geomagnetism and climate research.


Carmen Götz

Linné's norms, Willdenow's teachings and Bonpland's field diary.

The first of the American Travel Journals contains a previously unedited list of plant descriptions, to which numerous references to the botanical field diary were added, which was kept by Aimé Bonpland at the same time. In return, this "Journal botanique" also contains many such references to Humboldts diary. What insights do these references provide into the cooperation between the two explorers on site?