Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (Archive)

Edition

Alexander von Humboldt

Fragmente des Sibirischen Reise-Journals 1829beta

The octavo volume Fragmente contains the notes that Humboldt took during his trip to Russia. As in the case of the American travel journals, today’s leather binding does not correspond to its original form. During the trip, Humboldt wrote in two separate notebooks, which were only later merged into one volume. In the 20th century, a continuous foliation was added in pencil by an unknown hand (cf. Honigmann 2014, 72).

The Fragmente volume only partially describes the course of the journey in the sense of a travel journal. Often the sketchy notes are used to log location-related measurement data and associated calculations. Numerous excerpts supplement Humboldt’s notations with comparative data of third parties – among others, Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel, Georg Adolf Erman, Christopher Hansteen, and Adolf Theodor Kupffer. Other notes concern economic data, population statistics, geological and landscape descriptions, mineral deposits, weather data, travel impressions, or remarks on linguistic peculiarities. For biographical research, lists of personal names distributed over both notebooks are particularly important.

Humboldt has demonstrably used the fragments in the writing of his later publications, especially the Asie centrale.

Editors: Tobias Kraft and Florian Schnee (Editing period: 2017–2021)

Introducing the edition
Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (Archive)

Edition

Alexander von Humboldt

Observations astronomiques faites dans le Voyage de Sibérie

The quarto volume mainly contains compilations of astronomical and magnetic measurement data obtained during the journey. It consists of four different texts.

First, in September 1830 Humboldt prepared excerpts from the original travel journal Fragmente. These are site-specific astronomical and magnetic observations with precise information on the observation site, in comparison with other observers such as Erman, Hansteen, Schubert, Višnevskij. There are references to the correspondence with Bessel and Kupfer (folio 7–28, 31–39).

A second extensive text brings together the calculations of these datasets by Humboldt’s assistant Jabbo Oltmanns from the years 1830/31 (compiled in 1833) with remarks by Humboldt and his revised version of January 1837. The latitude, longitude, and time determinations are compared with Daussy, Erman, Islenjew, Lemm, Weliki, and Višnevskij (especially folio 42–90).

The third text comprises the results of a second revision of the Astronomica by Humboldt and Encke (folio 3–5, 91–94, 124–125), partly dated 1841.

Finally, a fourth type of text concerns literary excerpts from the Astronomische Nachrichten (folio 103, 104) and a letter from Bessel to Humboldt (1829: printed in Humboldt 1994, no. 16).

In planning

Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (Archive)

Edition

Alexander von Humboldt

Observations magnétiques

The third volume contains observational data on earth magnetism from nine cities in Europe, especially Russia, collected by numerous scientists and assembled through the analysis of letter correspondence from the years 1806 to 1836. The datasets were evaluated in different ways by Humboldt for his publications and correspondence.

The central theme is the hourly changes of the declination in:

  • Berlin in the years 1806, 1807, 1830, 1831, 1832, 1833 1834 (Observer: Buchwald, Dirichlet, Dove, Encke, Hoffmann, Hülsse, Humboldt, Moser, Ohm, Oltmanns, Pitz, Poggendorff, Ries);
  • Florence in 1833 (Observer: Amici);
  • Freiberg in the years 1830, 1831, 1832, 1833, 1836 (Observer: Albrecht, Brannsdorf, Buchwald, Felgner, Heine, Hoffmann, Hülsse, Krämer, Langenberger, Leschner, Lippmann, Neuendorf, Nicolai, Pitz, Reich, Walther, Weisbach);
  • Kasan in 1829 (observer: Simonov);
  • Leiden in 1831 (observer: Beyma, Kaiser, Ryke, Uylenbrock);
  • Nikolaev (on the Black Sea) in 1830 (observer: Knorre, Jaschkewitz);
  • Paris in the years 1829, 1830;
  • Saint Petersburg in the years 1830, 1831 (Observers: Kupffer, Lenin, Lenz);
  • Stockholm in the year 1832

There are also eight thematically relevant letters to Humboldt von Boguslawski (1836), Dove (1830), Encke (twice in 1836, printed in Humboldt 2013a, No. 145, 149), Gauss (1836: printed in Humboldt 1977, No. 20), Kreil (1836), Schumacher (1831, printed in Humboldt 1979, No. 44), and Simonov (1829, printed in Humboldt 2009a, No. 52).

In planning

Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (Archive)

Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg

Journal of the Russian-Siberian Journey 1829

The Berlin zoologist and botanist Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg accompanied Alexander von Humboldt together with the mineralogist Gustav Rose on the Russian-Siberian journey in 1829.

Humboldt, Ehrenberg and Rose each kept their own field books on the journey. Rose's notes were the basis for his Mineralogisch-geognostische Reise nach dem Ural, dem Altai und dem Kaspischen Meere, published in two volumes in 1837 and 1842 (Rose 1837/1842). The handwritten travel notes on which this work is based are considered lost. Ehrenberg's Journal of the Russian-Siberian Journey is kept in the collection of his personal papers in the archives of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities. The 93-folio notebook, of which about 70 folios are written on both sides, has never before been edited and is published here for the first time (1st release as part of Version 5 of the edition humboldt digital on September 11, 2019). Ehrenberg made most of his entries in pencil. He apparently wrote down the often concise daily notes during breaks, shortly after the events and observations took place. Longer descriptions include sojourns in cities such as St. Petersburg, Moscow, Nižnij Novgorod, Orenburg, and Astrakhan, as well as the encounter with a Chinese border post in Baty. Nevertheless, the journal does not document the entire journey. There is little information about the travel stops from Berlin to St. Petersburg and no information about the return trip from Dorpat to Berlin. For some stages of the journey, Ehrenberg only entered the day and place and left room for later entries, which he then did not make.

The vast majority of the journal was dedicated to botanical observations. At the end of his notes, he summarized the collective yields listed in the daily entries once again in regional floras. Ehrenberg's interest in vegetation forms, distribution patterns, and boundaries of plants show remarkable parallels to Humboldt's plant-geographic research questions.

Edited by Kerstin Aranda, Ulrich Päßler and Christian Thomas

To the edited text