Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (Archive)


Alexander von Humboldt

Fragmente des Sibirischen Reise-Journals 1829

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.

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

To the edited text


Tobias Kraft and Florian Schnee

First the fragments. Introducing the current beta edition

The digital beta edition of the Fragments of the Siberian Travel Journal, which are still virtually inaccessible and largely unexplored to date, offers for the first time deep insights into the sources and contexts of Humboldt's expedition to Central Asia. However, it does not yet fully comply with scholarly standards of philological editing, as the transcription and annotation of Humboldt's notes on his Russian-Siberian journey of 1829 involve very particular challenges.