Elisha Kent Kane Papers


Date: 1810-1953 1843-1857 | Size: 6.75 Linear feet


The most stellar member of a stellar family, Elisha Kent Kane was among the most popular American explorers of the mid-nineteenth century, a hero in the tragic mode. Born in Philadelphia in 1820, the son of John Kintzing Kane and Jane Duval Leiper, Kane studied medicine at the University of Pennsylvania before earning a commission as a naval surgeon. While in the Navy, Kane embarked on the succession of voyages to exotic locales that became the basis for his extraordinary fame. In 1843, he attended Caleb Cushing's first diplomatic mission to China as ship's physician, and subsequently traveled to the Philippines and Western Africa. Distinguishing himself in the Mexican War, Kane's greatest fame came from two expeditions to the arctic, aiming to locate the lost explorer, Sir John Franklin and to explore for evidence of the open polar sea. Kane died in 1857 while attempting to organize a third arctic voyage. Part of the Kane Family Collection, the Papers of Elisha Kent Kane contain a mix of personal and family correspondence with correspondence relating to all of Kane's explorations. Intelligent, articulate and very much a romantic, Kane's letters are expressive and passionate. The collection provides fine documentation of youth, his relationship with the Spiritualist Margaret Fox, and of course his travels to China and off the coast of Africa in 1846. Kane's two expeditions to the arctic are particularly well documented, with correspondence, notes, logbooks, diaries, and sketches, as well as Kane's post-expedition notes, writings, and lectures recounting his experiences.

Background note

Whether because of -- or in spite of -- a debilitating childhood bout with rheumatic fever that left him with a delicate constitution, Elisha Kent Kane went on to live an adventurous life and "die in the harness," as his father had wished. Each of the half-dozen brilliant forays that he made into the exotic seems to have been terminated by accident or illness, but from these experiences, Kane carefully built a public image for himself as America's great tragic hero of exploration.

Elisha Kent Kane was born in Philadelphia on February 3, 1820, the son of the jurist and Democratic politician John Kintzing Kane and his wife Jane Duval Leiper. Already prominent in Philadelphia and Washington, the Kane family became more so with Elisha's celebrity as an Arctic explorer and his brother, Thomas Leiper Kane's, as a general in the Union army and advocate for the Mormons.

Upon first entering college at the University of Virginia, Elisha intended to study geology and civil engineering, but on the advice of family friends, he transferred to the University of Pennsylvania to take up medicine, graduating in 1842. With receipt of his degree, however, his concerned family members believed that a medical practice might be too rigorous for the frail young man, and they sought to discourage him from the profession. But unbeknownst to Elisha, his father arranged a surgeon's commission in the navy, and upon graduation, Elisha was directed to report to the Philadelphia Navy Yard to be examined for assignment. Despite his medical history, Kane passed the examination and received his commission in the following year.

In his first assignment, Kane joined the diplomat Caleb Cushing on the first American diplomatic mission to China in May 1843. The voyage to the Far East was the first of many adventures for Kane, which included a daring descent into a Philippine volcano, apparently inciting controversy among locals. At the completion of trade negotiations in June 1844, Kane resigned from the Cushing Commission and elected to remain in China for six months, operating a hospital boat with a young English surgeon. Although the venture was successful financially, Kane contracted cholera and was forced to abandon his practice and return home. By the time that he reached Philadelphia in the summer of 1845, he had logged thousands of miles and visited five continents.

Despite his stated intentions of settling down and opening a medical practice in the city, Kane soon enlisted for another tour of duty at sea, this time taking a cruise to Africa aboard the frigate United States. It has been suggested that Kane's precipitous decision to ship out had less to do with a thirst for adventure than it did a taste of scandal. Shortly after his return to Philadelphia Kane had begun spending time with a young woman named Julia Reed, and several months later, he was scurrying to conceal her pregnancy. While historian and Kane biographer George W. Corner acknowledged that there was some correspondence to support the basis for the scandal, he nevertheless maintained that an out of wedlock pregnancy "did not fit" Kane's gentlemanly character. Regardless of the circumstances, however, sail away Kane did in May 1846, leaving behind a despondent family and two heartbroken cousins, Mary Leiper and Helen Patterson. Although Kane did not appear to enjoy his African sojourn, it afforded him the opportunity to study the slave trade at first hand, a topic of great interest to the Kane family, and especially to his abolitionist brother Thomas and to his father.

Just as in China, however, illness cut short Kane's cruise, and he returned home weak, emaciated, and depressed, and just as in China, he was not held back for long. Even before he had recovered from his bout of "coast fever," he traveled to Washington to petition for a transfer into the army in order to fight in the Mexican War. The prospects of escape and adventure and of military glory were always supremely attractive to Kane, but after contracting yet another debilitating illness, he gave up hope of active duty. Failing in his attempt to sign on as physician to Girard College, he renewed his push for a transfer, and when President James Polk decided he needed a messenger to relay information to General Winfield Scott, Kane was offered the assignment.

En route to Mexico, Kane wrote to his father to assure him that the "Philadelphia Kane family is represented in the war," and he challenged him to use this "representation" to further advance the Kane family. Ultimately, Kane's stint in the army did bring credit to his family's name. Wounded in a battle with Mexican forces, Kane distinguished himself by saving the life of Mexican General Antonio Gaona, and in return, Gaona and his family nursed Kane back to health in their luxurious compound after the illness-prone Philadelphian had fallen ill with "congestive typhus fever." Declared unfit for further duty, Kane was sent home to a hero's welcome.

After a slow convalescence over the summer, Kane unsuccessfully applied for a position at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, and then for an assignment aboard the store ship Supply, scheduled to sail for Lisbon, the Mediterranean, and Rio de Janeiro. Reminiscent in many ways of Kane's African trip, the Supply cruise was uneventful apart from the brutal floggings meted out frequently on the backs of the unruly crew that Kane, as ship's surgeon, was obligated to attend. In September 1849, Kane left his assignment aboard the Supply, and signed on aboard the surveying steamer Walker, bound for Mobile Bay on coastguard service.

While the experience aboard the Supply deepened Kane's aversion to shipboard brutality, he found his coastguard duty irredeemably dull. Kane yearned for adventure, and early in the following year, the perfect opportunity presented itself: a rescue expedition was forming to search for the lost explorer Sir John Franklin, who had last been seen on July 22, 1845 en route to locate a Northwest Passage to the Pacific Ocean.

On May 22, 1850, Kane set sail aboard the brig Advance, one of two ships supplied for the expedition by the whaling magnate Henry Grinnell. The U.S. Navy crew under the command of Lieutenant Edwin De Haven, was charged with searching for Franklin in Baffin Bay, but he was ordered thereafter to proceed northward in search of the still undiscovered Northwest Passage. There were ten other rescue ships in the Arctic that summer. Between August 25th and 27th, the crews of Captain John Penny and De Haven landed on the shores of Cape Riley where they discovered evidence of an encampment, presumably Franklin's, and additional evidence was discovered on Beechey Island, ten miles further up Wellington Channel. Since Franklin had left no indication of the direction in which he was headed, the captains agreed to split up and continue their search over a wider area, with De Haven heading north up Wellington Channel.

In early September, the Advance passed Cornwallis Island and began heading further north before it was stopped altogether by a howling storm. Scrubbing the mission, De Haven elected to try to return home, but as ice formed around the ships and locked them into a floe, they found themselves trapped, and pushed steadily northward. Even when the floe broke up temporarily, the ship was freed only long enough to become frozen into another icepack headed south. By October 1st, Kane and his shipmates realized that they faced a winter in the Arctic.

In the dark and bitterly cold winter, De Haven and many in the crew became desperately ill with scurvy, leaving their health and survival in Dr. Kane's hands. Ordering them to exercise, even on the coldest days, and increasing their rations, Kane is credited with saving their lives. After having been pushed out of Wellington Channel, eastward through Lancaster Sound, and southward down Baffin Bay, the ship was finally freed of the ice on June 5, 1851, and was able to make its way to Greenland's Disco Island to replenish stores for another season of exploration.

From Upernavik, the expedition set sail again in early July and soon after hit solid ice. By mid-August, the frustrated De Haven abandoned the mission and headed for New York before facing another arctic winter. Although they had failed to locate Franklin or the Northwest Passage, when Kane returned home, he was once again received as a hero.

Making the most of the acclaim, Kane spent the next year traveling and lecturing on his Arctic adventures to capacity crowds. His celebrity grew enormously as a result of his colorful lectures, and carefully edited accounts of his Arctic adventures filled the newspapers. Perhaps most famously, he worked tirelessly to promote his theory that Franklin had drifted into a warm-water Open Polar Sea that he was sure circled the pole. Using the attention resulting from his book, The U. S. Grinnell Expedition in Search of Sir John Franklin, Kane raised funds for a second expedition, taking the largest share from the magnanimous Henry Grinnell, who agreed to once again offered use of the Advance. It appeared as though Kane would have every opportunity to test his theory.

The fall of 1852 was marked by two significant events: the tragic death of fourteen year-old Willie Kane and the introduction of Elisha Kent Kane to Margaret Fox, one the best known Spiritualist mediums in America. Willie's death devastated the entire family, so much so that they abandoned their mansion on the outskirts of Philadelphia and moved back into the city, unable to bear living in Willie's house any longer. Elisha, who had kept watch at Willie's bedside for several weeks, was particularly affected. There has been some speculation that Kane's grief led him to seek out the comfort of Spiritualist communication with the dead; however, there is no evidence that Kane ever actually discussed Willie with Maggie Fox. Nevertheless, after several visits to the hotel where Fox held seances, Kane's spirits improved, and as he labored to finish his book and to complete organization for his expedition, he continued to pay regular visits.

Although their relationship started out casually, Kane began to make demands on Fox. Initially unconcerned over the propriety of her "calling," he soon began to urge her to give it up, and at the same time, he began to insist that she become more ladylike, proposing that she allow him to send her to school. For her part, Fox seemed uncertain whether she would comply or resist, but as their relationship grew more intense, the demands became more important. At one point, Kane broke off the relationship, recognizing that one of them would have to give up their "cause," something that neither was willing to do.

Fox must have had a change of heart, because a few months later she wrote to Kane expressing dissatisfaction with her "very tiresome life" and asking his advice. His immediate reply encouraged her to "stick to your good resolutions" and reaffirmed his commitment to helping her escape a life which, according to Kane, was "worse than tedious, it is sinful." Maggie's mother finally agreed to allow Kane to arrange for Maggie's education, and the Turner family of rural Crookville, Pennsylvania, was engaged to provide board for Maggie while she attended school nearby. Kane also made arrangements with Cornelius Grinnell to pay her board and take care of other incidental expenses. The young couple agreed that if Kane was sufficiently satisfied with Fox's reeducation when he returned from the Arctic, they would be married, but until then they could not become engaged. On May 27, 1853, Fox moved into the Turner's home in Crookville, and four days later Kane departed for the Arctic.

From the beginning, Kane was concerned that news of his relationship with Fox could harm his reputation while he was away, so he enlisted the help of Cornelius Grinnell and younger brother Robert Patterson Kane to help safeguard Elisha's reputation. Patterson and Grinnell were to act as couriers for correspondence between Fox and Kane and they were instructed to quell any rumors that arose. Kane left his correspondence regarding his role in Maggie's education with his brother in order to leave a paper trail indicating that he was nothing more than a generous benefactor of the young woman.

There were other matters to worry about as well -- Kane's health, as usual, among them. In April 1853, just one month prior to sailing, Kane was stricken with rheumatic fever, but even after being confined to bed for three weeks, unsure whether he might die, he decided that he would make a go of the expedition. Such an unpromising beginning was a sign of things to come. The usual bouts of seasickness and an inexperienced crew added to the concerns, but it was only when the expedition reached the Arctic that the real troubles began.

Already concerned that he might be trumped in the discovery of the Open Polar Sea, Kane grew frantic upon receiving a letters from Lady Jane Franklin informing him that Capt. Edward Inglefield was setting out in one of England's best steam-powered ships to follow the rescue path that Kane had pursued in 1850-1851. Although Inglefield had only been sent to the Arctic to deliver supplies to five ships on Beechey Island, Lady Franklin's letter led Kane to adopt a more aggressive course than he had originally planned, crossing directly through Mellville Bay. Although this route stood to save time, it would expose the ship to treacherous icebergs which blocked the entrances to Smith and Lancaster Sounds, and Kane recognized that by taking this course he would also risk being frozen into an ice floe for the winter. He decided to take the chance.

Ominously, while crossing Mellville Bay, the Advance suffered a head-on collision with an iceberg that destroyed the jig-boom and one of the lifeboats, yet the ship still made remarkable time. By early August, with the entrance to Smith Sound in sight, the Advance stopped at Littleton Island to leave provisions and a lifeboat for future emergencies before pushing northward, and it was there that their troubles really began. Facing lashing storms and ice-clogged waters, Kane ultimately had to order his men to strap themselves into harnesses and pull the ship north. By late August, the Advance had traveled further north than any previous expedition (by the American route), but Kane demanded they push still further. But when the crew protested -- and more importantly, when it was ascertained that no further progress could be made due to heavy ice -- Kane agreed that they should stay put and wait for spring. While the American public waited and worried, Kane and his crew settled in for the winter.

The crew prepared for winter by building supply houses on shore, a wooden cover for the ship's deck, and a kennel for the dogs. Repeated attempts to rid themselves of the ship's rat population were somewhat successful but the methods caused a few anxious moments. The first attempt using noxious fumes nearly killed the cook, and the second, asphyxiation by carbon monoxide, set the deck on fire and caused Kane and another crewmember to lose consciousness while battling the blaze.

By mid-October, when the sun disappeared, all activity ground to a halt, and Kane and his crew were confined below deck to ride out a harsh winter ridden with scurvy and sensory deprivation, and more than a few flares of temper and fist fights. By February, with the sun barely visible, Kane wasted no time in returning to the mission, selecting eight members of the crew to attempt to reach Humboldt glacier and beyond. Ignoring the bitter cold and the protests of the experienced crew members that it was still too early to proceed, he sent his squad northward in mid-March.

The attempt was short-lived. Within a week of their departure, three of the men stumbled back to ship with news that the others were ill and freezing. Kane immediately led a party to rescue the men, an excursion that took fifty hours in temperatures that fell at times to fifty below zero. At the same time, the crew spied several Inuit hunters from Etah, a small village just 70 miles to the south, and invited them on board, where they sat down to a meal of raw walrus that the Inuit had brought with them. With the help of Carl Christian Peterson, a Danish crew member fluent in Inuktitut, Kane was able to communicate with the Inuit, enlisting their help for the upcoming winter.

As spring approached, Kane began to implement his plan to head north in search of the Open Polar Sea. First, he intended to send six of his men by foot to Humboldt Glacier, with him and another crewmember following on a sledge with provisions. They would then cross the channel to the American side and search for openings to the Open Polar Sea. As May -- and warmer weather -- approached, Kane realized that if he was to make a move, it would have to be before rising temperatures melted the ice. Yet once again, nothing went quite right. Heavy snowdrifts and the effects of scurvy and snowblindness stalled the expedition, and the crew discovered that all the food they had cached during the previous fall had been eaten by polar bears. Eventually, though, a small party from Kane's crew made it to Humboldt Glacier and crossed the still-frozen "Kane Basin." Despite battling snow blindness, they managed to travel over two hundred miles in all. Within a week of the first group's return to the ship, Kane sent out a second party of six men to travel beyond Humboldt Glacier to see if they could verify the existence of an opening to the Open Polar Sea.

On June 5, the men set off for Humboldt Glacier, two of whom continued northward after the others attempted to ascend the glacier and failed. Kane feared the worst for the two, but on July 3rd, they returned with the news that Kane had longed to hear: they had discovered the Open Polar Sea. They described how Kane Basin narrowed into a channel, and as they pressed further north, they noticed thinning ice and swarms of birds, including an open water species, the Arctic Petrel. They climbed a cape and from a 480 foot height, they saw nothing but open water. Kane was elated: having attained their goal, it looked as if he and his crew could finally focus on going home. There were only two small problems: the basin was frozen solid, completely blocking the way and the ship itself was completely iced in. It appeared that the Advance might face yet another Arctic winter.

Any hopes that the warm temperatures and strong winds might break up the floe were dashed when Kane discovered that new ice was already beginning to form and that the escape route was narrowing further. As August drew to a close, Kane accepted that the ship was trapped, but several members of the crew began to plan their escape. Feeling that he could not, in good conscience, force them to stay, Kane announced on August 23rd that if any men wished to strike out on their own, he would not stop them. Only five elected to stay: the others he made sign documents attesting that they were deserting and that Kane was no longer responsible for them. To his credit, Kane suppressed his anger long enough to bid the departing men good luck and to assure them that should they decide to return, they would be welcomed.

Kane and the remaining crew prepared for another Arctic winter, fortified with a year's experience and some valuable lessons in survival learned from the Inuit. Their first task was to insulate the ship to make it as "igloo-like" as possible. Although the darkness was oppressive, the relative comfort of the ship as well as the mutual hunting agreement with the people of Etah promised to make the winter months much more bearable. In early December, two deserters returned to the Advance and the others arrived shortly thereafter, having never made it to Upernavik. Kane suppressed his resentment and welcomed them as promised, even though sheltering the extra men proved to be a big challenge -- one of several as it turned out.

The cramped living space and strain on food stores increased tensions among the men, and illness, falling temperatures, and diminishing fuel supplies added to the misery. Tempers flared along with illness and insubordination. Kane kept discipline by calling offenders up on deck individually and bashing them "in the side of the head with a heavy metal belaying pin." This, it seemed, was an effective if temporary method.

The food shortage was the most critical issue, and Kane's hopes of leaning on the generosity of the Inuit were dashed when it was discovered that the residents of Etah were starving, too. Kane arranged to combine efforts with the Inuit in hunting, and together they managed to kill a walrus, saving both groups from starvation. Discipline, however, remained an issue. Two crewmembers, William Godfrey and John Blake, were discovered to be planning to steal a sledge bound for Etah. Although the men were caught in time and were beaten with a "leaden fist," Godfrey managed to escape on foot. Still weak from disease and hunger, the crew suffered for two weeks before the would-be thief returned with the sledge filled with meat. Godfrey refused to board the ship even when Kane brandished a rifle and shot at him, but instead ran off. Although Kane was furious, the meat helped restore the crew's health and spirits. Godfrey later claimed that he had not deserted a second time because he had never entered into an agreement with Kane upon his return from the first secession.

As spring approached, the crew's health and morale slowly improved and preparations began for the journey home. Although Kane was disappointed that he had been unable to see the Open Polar Sea for himself, he did manage to see Humboldt Glacier. On May 20, 1855, he and his crew began pulling their whale boats (their ship having been dismantled for fuel) over the ice to open water. By mid-June they were in Etah, and after waiting out a short spell of severe weather, they bid their Inuit friends farewell and set off for Upernavik.

In a punishing journey that left one crewmember dead, the small boats were pitched about violently in the ice-filled waters, and several times the men had to take cover from to heavy winds and ice. Solid ice at the base of Cape York led Kane to move out into Melville Bay instead of staying close to shore and waiting for the ice to move. By early August, however, Kane and his crew reached Upernavik, and from there they passed to Godhavn and on September 11th, met up with an American ship sent to their rescue.

When Kane arrived in New York on October 11th, 1854, he was once again accorded a hero's welcome. Advised by his family to handle his reception with humility and gratitude, he thanked the nation for their interest and concern, and much to his relief, no one on the crew sought to contradict his account of his crew's camaraderie and unity, or his own strong leadership. As it turned out, his greatest challenge lay within his own family: they were still very much opposed to his relationship with Maggie Fox.

Maggie had moved to Philadelphia in late September 1854 in anticipation of Kane's arrival, and two days later, the two were together at Clinton Place. The long-awaited reunion, however, was not the romantic encounter anticipated. Instead, Maggie found Kane to be distracted and agitated. Bowing to family pressure to cut off the relationship, he pleaded with Maggie to sign a note stating that their relationship was purely platonic. She refused. He returned a few days later with a reporter in tow, requesting that she affirm that they had never been engaged. Again, Maggie refused.

Rumors of Kane's engagement began to circulate widely, and even his departure for Washington, D.C., to give an official account of the expedition did nothing to quash them. To the family's dismay, a small newspaper in upstate New York reported the engagement, and soon major newspapers across the country were reprinting the story. Using its influence, the Kane family forced retraction of the story, but when Kane failed to refute the retraction, Maggie ended the relationship.

Nevertheless, he and Maggie continued to correspond. Kane clearly agonized over his decision but he and his family had built his public image very carefully and were not about to let a fling with a Spiritualist undo their hard work. Maggie, who had to preserve her own reputation, felt she had little choice either. Marriage, one possible solution, would preserve Maggie's reputation, but diminish the Kane family's standing -- something he was unwilling or unable to do until he was financially solvent. In the meantime, Maggie, her sister Kate, and their mother moved to 22nd Street in New York.

The Navy had already given Kane permission to publish his account of his Arctic experiences and had paid him for the time it took to write it. It was a generous arrangement, perhaps because the Navy had suffered criticism for not initially supporting Kane's expedition. At any rate, Kane wasted no time in picking a publisher, George W. Childs, who also worked aggressively to promote Kane's image -- so aggressively in fact, that his efforts to goad Congress into purchasing a large number of copies resulted in accusations that Kane was using his family's political connections for personal gain. Some of Child's other efforts fared better, including marketing the book at trade shows and selling it door-to-door, and Kane's public appearances also increased sales. Although the book was well-received and sold well, Kane was miserable. In addition to being unable to marry Maggie Fox, he had another problem: Lady Jane Franklin was determined that he head yet another expedition to rescue her husband.

Lady Franklin was, by all accounts, a determined advocate for her still-missing husband, and although nine years had elapsed since her husband had disappeared, she was effective at ratcheting up public pressure to save him. Kane felt obligated to lead the expedition and in August 1856, he began efforts to secure support. Kane spent the remainder of the fall (as he had the spring and summer) with Fox at her family's New York residence. By this point, her family had come to accept Kane as a sincere suitor, and he was welcome in their home, yet because his own family continued to hold back, he took great pains to conceal the relationship. Only his brother Patterson was kept informed, and perhaps only then because Kane assured him of his discretion.

On October 11, 1856, Kane left for Liverpool, arriving in poor health after a rough crossing. His spirits must have been relatively high, because he entertained thoughts of securing funding for not one, but two expeditions, and he wrote to his parents to ask them to seek support in the United States. It was not to be. On October 29, Kane collapsed and was sent to the suburbs of London to rest. From there he traveled to Cuba to take advantage of the better climate. Kane and his steward, William Morton, left for St. Thomas on November 17, but on the voyage between St. Thomas and Cuba, Kane suffered a stroke.

Kane's brother Thomas was waiting in Havana, and was joined in mid-January by his mother, and his brother John. After a brief rally, Elisha suffered a second, more severe stroke, and on February 16, he died at the age of 37.

Scope and content

Part of the Kane Family Collection, the Elisha Kent Kane Papers is comprised primarily of correspondence written by the naval officer and explorer, Elisha Kent Kane, between 1840 and 1857. In addition to a thorough run of letters documenting his intricate and occasionally scandalous personal life, the collection includes a wealth of material regarding Kane's claim to fame: his expeditions to China, Africa, Mexico, and the Arctic.

An erudite family, the Kanes wrote letters that were warm, beautifully penned and highly descriptive, and from the time of Elisha's departure from home to attend school through his varied missions abroad, they offer intimate glimpses of family life and local news in Philadelphia. Similarly, Elisha's letters home describe a student's life in fine detail, and recount both his adventures in exotic locales and his dreary ship-bound days with equal aplomb. From early in his career, Elisha was very image conscious, and the entire Kane family was deeply involved in creating and preserving his image and reputation. The letters he wrote home were often edited and forwarded to the newspapers for publication.

Perhaps no aspect of Kane's life is better documented in the collection than his participation in the two Grinnell expeditions to the arctic, 1850-1851, and 1853-1854. These include not only correspondence with supporters of the project but also copies of Kane's diary, logbooks, notes, and sketches, along with drafts of some of his later writings. Among these are a full suite of meteorological readings from 1850-1851, interesting descriptions of the "eskimeaux" and their way of life, and drafts of Kane's journal from December 1856, when his deserting crew returned to the Advance.

Kane's tumultuous love life is both well documented and frustratingly sparse. His brief affair with Julia Reed is whispered in a small number of documents, perhaps most clearly in a contract drawn up between unnamed parties for an unmarried woman to surrender her child to be raised by the father. The very public affair with the Spiritualist medium Maggie Fox is discussed in an extensive series of letters and documents, though questions about the nature of the relationship still remain unanswered. Several historians have suggested that Kane initially seemed fascinated by Fox's skills as a spiritualist, but that as the relationship advanced, he implored Fox to give up her "rapping" and to pursue a more honest lifestyle. She eventually agreed to attend school and allowed Kane to place her with a family in Crookville, Pennsylvania. Perhaps Kane felt his family might be more accepting of Fox once she had received an education.

The Fox-Kane correspondence includes letters to and from Maggie Fox, and her sisters Kate and Leah and mother Margaret, asking for Kane's support. In at least some cases, the letters appear to have been gathered together by Robert Patterson Kane, presumably as the family prepared itself to defend Elisha's public reputation.

Other travel-related correspondence includes some fascinating translations of letters from Antonio Gonzalez and a Mr. Ferrer "concerning the treatment of free negroes in Cuba." A long letter from "the house of Gen. Gaona" dated February 10, 1848, to his father describes his host's generosity and hospitality.

The remaining series of the Kane Papers consist of personal financial records (Series II), material collected by George Corner when preparing his biography of Kane (Series III), and graphic materials (Series V).


Series I. Correspondence1810-1953 (bulk: 5.5 linear feet
Series II. Financial Records1831-18610.25 linear feet
Series III. George W. Corner, Notes on Elisha Kent Kane1854-19730.25 linear feet
Series IV. Bound Volumes1835-18601.5 linear feet
Series V. Graphicsca.1840-18560.25 linear feet

Digital objects note

This collection contains digital materials that are available in the APS Digital Library. Links to these materials are provided with context in the inventory of this finding aid. A general listing of digital objects may also be found here.

Collection Information


Gift of Mrs. Joseph C. Aub, Dr. Oliver Cope, Thomas Pym Cope, Mrs. Thomas P. Hazard, Mrs. E. Paul DuPont, 1967-1973 (accn no. 1970-145ms, 1973-1615ms); and purchase.

Preferred citation

Cite as: Elisha Kent Kane Papers, American Philosophical Society.

Processing information

Recatalogued by Anne Harney, 2003.

Separated material

Several items associated with Elisha Kent Kane have been transferred to the APS Curatorial Department for storage.

The APS owns an oil portrait of Kane by James Reid Lambdin, after an ambrotype by Mathew Brady, 1857.

  1. Buttons from Elisha Kent Kane's U.S. Naval Attire, early 19th c.Brass
  2. Pocket Watch, Duchene Brothers and Co., 19th c. Said to have belonged to Elisha Kent Kane
  3. Medal with Portrait of Elisha Kent Kane, 19th c.
  4. Ceremonial Sword, Nathan P Ames, Springfield, Mass., ca. 1843, Presented to Kane by the U.S. government

Related material

The Elisha Kent Kane Papers are part of the Kane Family Collection (Ms. Coll. 115), which includes materials for John Kintzing Kane, Robert Patterson Kane, Thomas Leiper Kane, and Francis Fisher Kane and Eliza Middleton Kane Cope. Several of these contain material relevant to Elisha Kent Kane.


Corner, George W., Dr. Kane of the Arctic Seas (Philadelphia: Temple Univ., 1972). Call no.: B K132c.

Elder, William, Biography of Elisha Kent Kane (Philadelphia: Childs and Peterson, 1858). Call no.: B K132e.

The Love-Life of Dr. Kane: Containing the Correspondence, and a History of the Acquaintance, Engagement, and Secret Marriage Between Elisha K. Kane and Margaret Fox (New York: Carleton, 1866). Call no.: B K132f.

Sawin, Mark Horst, "Raising Kane: The Creation and Consequences of Fame in Antebellum America" (Dissertation, University of Texas, Austin, 2001).

African American History Note

Among the most popular of American explorers of the mid-nineteenth century, Kane visited Africa in 1846 aboard the frigate United States. The Kane collection contains a variety of fascinating materials relating to the slave trade and plight of African Americans in the nineteenth century.

The papers consist of manuscript materials entitled "Journal of a Trip to Africa," "Slave voyage notebook," and "Whydah slave trade." Also, there are two "Africa: miscellaneous" folders which include an essay on the commercial policy and history of the Gold Coast, along with quantitative data for the years 1820-1843 regarding the repatriation of African Americans to Liberia.

Naval History Note

The diverse Kane Papers include the arctic explorer's correspondence, sketches of arctic and other scenes (there are many sketches scattered throughout the numerous bound volumes), notebooks of polar exploration, journals of trips to North Carolina, the Philippines, Africa, the Near East, Egypt, Mexico, logbooks, etc.

The logbooks are catalogued separately and can be viewed at: Kane Logbooks (Mss.B.K132a).

The Kane papers also include printed materials which may be of interest to naval historians. Printed sources include:

The diverse Kane Papers include the arctic explorer's correspondence, sketches of arctic and other scenes (there are many sketches scattered throughout the numerous bound volumes), notebooks of polar exploration, journals of trips to North Carolina, the Philippines, Africa, the Near East, Egypt, Mexico, logbooks, etc.

The logbooks are catalogued separately and can be viewed at: Kane Logbooks (Mss.B.K132a).

The Kane papers also include printed materials which may be of interest to naval historians. Printed sources include:

Missing Title
  1. Great Britain. Admiralty. "By the commissioners for executing the office of Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, etc. ...To Horatio T. Austin, Esq., C.B., captain of Her Majesty's Ship 'Resolute,' in charge of an expedition to the Arctic Sea." 1850. 3 pages.
  2. Ross, Sir James Clark. "Aston Abbotts House, Aylesbury. 18th February, 1853. Sir, With respect to the number of each party, we have found two officers and six men to be the most convenient." 1853. 2 pages.
  3. Richardson, Sir John. "From Sir John Richardson, C.B., Medical Inspector, on equipment for Arctic travelling. Haslar Hospital, Feb. 14th, 1853. In pursuance of the commands of My Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, conveyed in your letter of the 12th instant, that I should make such remarks and suggestions, as my experience in Arctic travelling may enable me to do, for the information of Dr. Kane, of the United States Navy, appointed to the command of an expedition." 1853. 3 pages.
  4. Great Britain. Admiralty. "H. M. S. _____ __th of _____ 18__ Lat. _____ Long._____ _____ Commander...Whoever finds this paper is requested to forward it to the Secretary of the Admiralty, London, with a note of the time and place at which it was found." 18__. 1 page.
  5. Godfrey, William C. "History of the Grinnell Exploring Expedition to the Arctic Ocean, in search of Sir John Franklin, 1853-4-5. Dr. E. K. Kane, U.S.N., commanding. By William Godfrey, one of the survivors of the expedition." Circa 1857. 1 page.
  6. Maryland Institute. "Memorial. To the Honorable the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States, in Congress assembled: The undersigned memorialists, members of the Maryland Institute and citizens of Baltimore generally...pray that an expedition of recovery be fitted out...[to search for Sir John Franklin and the lost crews of the Erebus and Terror]." n.d. 1 page.
  7. Parry, Sir William Edward. "Northbrook House, Bishop's Waltham, Feb. 16th, 1853. Sir, In reply to your letter of the llth Inst. (receive only to day, I hasten to assure you how much pleasure it would afford me to contribute, in any degree, to the efficiency of Dr. Kane's equipment in the arduous enterprize in which he is about to be engaged." 1853. 1 page.
  8. Meriam, Ebenezer. "The Franklin lifesaving and Arctic exploring expedition. The brilliant effort now making by Henry Grinnell...for the early departure of an expedition which he is fitting out for the Polar Seas, from his own private fortune, for the search and rescue of those who embarked in the exploring expedition which sailed from England under the command of Sir John Franklin, is worthy of every aid and facility which can be extended to so noble and praiseworthy an undertaking." 1850. 2 pages.
  9. Sabine, Sir Edward. "Woolwich, February 24, 1853. Sir, With reference to the letter which you addressed to me on the 12th of February, in respect to Dr. Kane's Arctic Expedition, I must limit the suggestions...to...'magnetic observations'." 1853. 1 page.

Early American History Note

This large collection contains the papers of Elisha Kent Kane, a prominent Philadelphian who led the U.S. Exploring Expedition.

Indexing Terms

Corporate Name(s)

  • Blockley Hospital (Philadelphia, Pa.)


  • Bills.
  • Engravings.
  • Family Correspondence
  • General Correspondence
  • Journals (notebooks)
  • Lectures
  • Letterbooks
  • Logbooks
  • Maps.
  • Notebooks
  • Receipts
  • Silhouettes
  • Sketches.
  • Travel Narratives and Journals
  • Watercolors

Geographic Name(s)

  • Africa -- Description and travel
  • Arctic regions -- Discovery and exploration
  • Asia Minor -- Description and travel
  • Egypt -- Description and travel
  • Liberia -- Description and travel
  • Mexico -- Description and travel
  • North Carolina -- Description and travel
  • Philadelphia (Pa.) -- Hospitals
  • Philadelphia. General Hospital

Personal Name(s)

  • Bache, A. D. (Alexander Dallas), 1806-1867
  • Baird, Spencer Fullerton, 1823-1887
  • Brooks, Henry
  • Colt, Samuel, 1814-1862
  • Cracroft, Sophia, 1816-1892
  • Cushing, Caleb, 1800-1879
  • Force, Peter, 1790-1868
  • Fox, Margaret, 1833-1893
  • Franklin, Jane Griffin, Lady, 1792-1875
  • Franklin, John, Sir, 1786-1847
  • Greeley , Horace, 1811-1872
  • Grinnell, Cornelius
  • Grinnell, Henry, 1799-1874
  • Harris, Thomas
  • Henry, Joseph, 1797-1878
  • Kane , John K. (John Kintzing), 1795-1858
  • Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857
  • Kane, Jane Duval Leiper
  • Kane, Robert Patterson, 1827-1
  • Kane, Thomas Leiper, 1822-1883
  • Kennedy, John Pendleton, 1795-
  • Weaver, William H.


  • Abolition, emancipation, freedom
  • Africa
  • Americans Abroad
  • Arctic Indians
  • Arctic regions-Pictorial works
  • China -- Foreign relations -- United States
  • Colonization, repatriation
  • Exploration
  • Exploration.
  • Explorers -- United States
  • Geometry -- Study and teaching
  • Grinnell Expedition, 1st, 1850-1851
  • Grinnell Expedition, 2d, 1853-1855
  • Hospitals -- Pennsylvania
  • Indians of North America -- Nunavut
  • International Travel
  • Inuit -- Canada
  • Inuit -- Greenland
  • Inuit -- Nunavut -- Baffin Island
  • Marriage and Family Life
  • Medicine -- Practice -- Pennsylvania
  • Medicine -- Study and teaching -- Pennsylvania
  • Meteorology -- Arctic Regions
  • Mineralogy -- Study and teaching
  • Northwest Passage
  • Obstetrics
  • Plantations
  • Slave trade -- Africa
  • Slaves, slavery, slave trade
  • Social Life and Custom
  • United States -- Foreign relations -- China
  • United States. Navy

Collection overview

1810-1953 (bulk: 1843-1857)5.5 linear feet

Personal and public correspondence of Elisha Kent Kane, dating primarily from his college days in the early 1840s through his death in 1857. Touching on all aspects of Kane's personal life (including his scandalous affairs) and his numerous expeditions around the world, the correspondence forms an important resource for examining the public and private construction of one of America's foremost mid-Victorian explorers.

1831-18610.25 linear feet

Bills, receipts and accounts relating to Elisha Kent Kane's personal finances. The records are arranged chronologically.

1854-19730.25 linear feet

Notes and miscellaneous materials assembled by George W. Corner while writing his biography of Elisha Kent Kane. The series includes copies of letters and documents relating to Kane and his expeditions held in other libraries, as well as some of Corner's notes and drafts of writings on Kane.

1835-18601.5 linear feet

A miscellaneous assemblage of bound volumes of notes, ranging from notes Kane kept as a student at the University of Virginia and University of Pennsylvania, to medical records kept at Blockley Hospital and after, and notebooks and a sketchbook relating to both of his arctic expeditions. Of particular interest are notes on Henry Darwin Rogers' class in mineralogy at the University of Pennsylvania, notes on medical courses taught by Samuel Jackson, and two volumes containing Kane's notes on female patients at Blockley, 1840-1841.

ca.1840-1856, 19630.25 linear feet

Miscellaneous drawings, sketches, and photographs by and of Elisha Kent Kane, including a number depicting scenes in the arctic. Kane was an incessant doodler and agreeable artist, and the collection includes representative sketches from most of his expeditions.

Images note: Over 200 sketches, watercolors, silhouettes, maps, and engravings of Inuit of Baffin Bay drawn by Kane during the first (1850-1851) and second (1853-1855) Grinnell arctic expeditions. Primarily from the first trip, images include portraits of Indigenous people, landscapes, dwellings, hunting tools, kayaks, and encampments. Kane's log and notebooks are dotted throughout with sketches. Of note in the graphic series, a watercolor of an Inuk boy netting auks. Donated with his papers, Kane's published works: The United States Grinnell expedition in search of Sir John Franklin (1853) and Arctic explorations: the second expedition…(1857) include engravings of all his original drawings. Referenced in the sketch file, the finding aid contains a detailed inventory. Also, referenced in Murphy Smith's Historical American Sketches…in the manuscripts collections of the APS.

Detailed Inventory

 Series I. Correspondence
1810-1953 (bulk: 1843-1857)5.5 linear feet

Personal and public correspondence of Elisha Kent Kane, dating primarily from his college days in the early 1840s through his death in 1857. Touching on all aspects of Kane's personal life (including his scandalous affairs) and his numerous expeditions around the world, the correspondence forms an important resource for examining the public and private construction of one of America's foremost mid-Victorian explorers.

 Abbott, Henry.
Abbott, Henry
18457 itemsBox 1
 Abbott, W. M..
1852-18533 itemsBox 1
 Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia.
1851-18532 itemsBox 1
 Addison, S. R. (Samuel Ridout), 1814-1860.
18522 itemsBox 1
 Admission cards
1839-18429 itemsBox 1
  Advance logbook
1850-185116 foldersBox 1
 Folder 1
May -June 1850 Box 1
 Folder 2
July 1850 Box 1
 Folder 3
August 1850 Box 1
 Folder 4
September 1850 Box 1
 Folder 5
October 1850 Box 1
 Folder 6
November 1850 Box 1
 Folder 7
December 1850 Box 1
 Folder 8
January 1851 Box 1
 Folder 9
February 1851 Box 1
 Folder 10
March 1851 Box 1
 Folder 11
April 1851 Box 1
 Folder 12
May 1851 Box 1
 Folder 13
June 1851 Box 1
 Folder 14
July 1851 Box 1
 Folder 15
August 1851 Box 1
 Folder 16
September 1851 Box 1
 Agassiz, Louis, 1807-1873.
1852 May 81 itemBox 1
 Ahrens, C..
1852 December 191 itemBox 1
 Allderice, John A..
1852 February 171 itemBox 1
 Allibone, S. Austin (Samuel Austin), 1816-1889.
1856 October 81 itemBox 1
 Appleton, John.
1847 September 111 itemBox 1
 Arills, Thomas.
n.d.1 itemBox 1
 Audubon, Vincent G..
1852 June 121 itemBox 1
 Austen, Captain.
1850 September 131 itemBox 1
 Ayres, W. O..
1853 March 9, n.d.2 itemsBox 1
 Bache, A. D. (Alexander Dallas), 1806-1867.
1845-185210 itemsBox 1
 Bache, Benjamin Franklin, 1769-1798.
1847-18493 itemsBox 1
 Bailey, Banks & Biddle Company (Philadelphia, Pa.).
n.d.2 itemsBox 1
 Baird, Spencer Fullerton, 1823-1887.
1852-18536 itemsBox 1
 Bancroft, George, 1800-1891.
1846 May 122 itemsBox 1
 Barclay, Arthur.
18532 itemsBox 1
 Baring Brothers & Co. Ltd..
1810 November 201 itemBox 1
 Barnes, John.
1855-18562 itemsBox 1
 Baron, D..
18442 itemsBox 1
 Barr, James T..
1847 November 81 itemBox 1
 Barritt, G. W..
1853 March 51 itemBox 1
 Barrow, John, 1808-1898.
1853 March 111 itemBox 1
 Beaufort, Francis, Sir, 1774-1857.
1857 March 5, n.d.2 itemsBox 1
 Beck, Morris B..
1850 April 291 itemBox 1
 Bell, William.
18521 itemBox 1
 Bellot, J.-R. (Joseph-René), 1826-1853.
1852-18533 itemsBox 1
 Better, T. N..
1856 October 311 itemBox 1
 Bier, G. H..
1849-n.d.3 itemsBox 1
 Bigelow, -----.
n.d.1 itemBox 1
 Billard, Dr..
n.d.1 itemBox 1
 Biographical Notes
n.d.21 itemsBox 1
 Blair, T.. Blair, W..
1852 December 131 itemBox 1
 Blanchard, George S..
1853 February 91 itemBox 1
 Bloodgood, S. DeWitt (Simeon DeWitt), 1799-1866.
1852-18534 itemsBox 1
 Boker, George H. (George Henry), 1823-1890.
1856 January 141 itemBox 1
 Borden, Gail, 1801-1874.
18532 itemsBox 1
 Borland, Solon, 1808-1864.
18532 itemsBox 1
 Bouring, J. C..
1852 March 11 itemBox 1
 Bradley, Ravenel.
1856 April 111 itemBox 1
 Breand, Samuel.
1853 January 231 itemBox 1
 Brewer, T. M. (Thomas Mayo), 1814-1880.
1853 February 181 itemBox 1
 Briggs, G. W..
1852 October 211 itemBox 1
 Brigham, C. H..
1852 October 181 itemBox 1
 Brooks, Henry.
1852-18537 itemsBox 1
 Brown, Isaac N..
18502 itemsBox 1
 Browne, Peter A.
1852-18532 itemsBox 1
 Brownlee, Mr..
n.d.1 itemBox 1
 Butler, G. B..
1852 December 291 itemBox 1
 Butler, Pierce.
1853 March 311 itemBox 1
 Cadwalader, John.
1849 November 41 itemBox 2
 Camba, Andres G..
1845 July 171 itemBox 2
 Carpenter, W. F..
1852 September 271 itemBox 2
 Carson, Joseph.
1843 April 121 itemBox 2
 Carter, R. R..
n.d.1 itemBox 2
 Caruthers, Horace.
1852 December 241 itemBox 2
 Cathrall, Charles E..
n.d.1 itemBox 2
 Chapman, Nathaniel, 1780-1853.
1843 February 201 itemBox 2
 Childs, George W..
1856 October 41 itemBox 2
 Childs, Thomas.
1848 July 281 itemBox 2
 Clarke, R. R..
1846-18522 itemsBox 2
 Clippings from Illustrated Lon.
n.d.26 itemsBox 2
 Clymer, William B..
1852 November 231 itemBox 2
 Colson, C. W..
18522 itemsBox 2
 Colt, Samuel, 1814-1862.
1852-18533 itemBox 2
 Corbit, William T..
1853 March 31 itemBox 2
 Corner, George Washington, 1889-1981.
19532 itemsBox 2
 Coure, R..
1851 January 211 itemBox 2
 Cracoft, Sophia.
1852-185715 itemsBox 2
 Crampton, John F..
1855 December 81 itemBox 2
 Cresson, E. G..
1856 January 181 itemBox 2
 Cuba: translations of letters regarding treatment of Men of Color
18419p.Box 2
 Cudworth, Warren H..
1920 March 301 itemBox 2
 Cummings, A..
n.d.1 itemBox 2
 Cummings, E..
1852 February 41 itemBox 2
 Curtis, G. W..
1856 October 51 itemBox 2
 Cushing, Caleb, 1800-1879.
1853 May 71 itemBox 2
 Dallas, G. M..
1847-18482 itemBox 2
 Davidson, Lionel.
1848 April 11 itemBox 2
 Davis, W. W. H..
1858 February 121 itemBox 2
 Dawson, John L..
n.d.1 itemBox 2
 Dayton, A. O..
1847-18517 itemsBox 2
 DeHaven, E. J..
1850-185217 itemsBox 2
 De la Mano, William.
1858 February 101 itemBox 2
 Delano, J. C..
n.d.1 itemBox 2
 Delaware Co. Insurance Company.
1843 April 181 itemBox 2
 Denistown, Wood and Co..
1848 May 181 itemBox 2
 Dent, Mr..
n.d.1 itemBox 2
 Dewees, William P..
1936 September 221 itemBox 2
 DeWitt, Thomas.
1856 October 61 itemBox 2
 Dickerson, Mahlon, 1770-1853.
18482 itemsBox 2
 Dillard, J..
18474 itemsBox 2
 Dobbin, J. C..
18533 itemsBox 2
 Douglas, S. N..
1847 November 51 itemBox 2
 Dulany, William.
1848 March 191 itemBox 2
 Dunglison, Robley, 1798-1869.
1856-n.d.3 itemsBox 2
 Dunlap, Mr..
1849, n.d.4 itemsBox 2
 Duval, W. L..
1852 December 221 itemBox 2
 Eaton, F. B..
1852 November 81 itemBox 2
 Edwards, D. S..
1852 March 311 itemBox 2
 Elder, Margaret M..
1926 April 211 itemBox 2
 Eldridge, Rebecca G..
1849 September 191 itemBox 2
 Elliot, C. B..
1853 February 151 itemBox 2
 Elliot, S. A..
1848 May 151 itemBox 2
 England, J. W..
1855 May 281 itemBox 2
 Erwin, E. C..
1852-18562 itemsBox 2
 Kane, J. D. L..
Estate Inventory
n.d.3 itemsBox 2
 Etheridge, John.
1853 February 261 itemBox 2
 Everest, G. W..
1846 May 171 itemBox 2
 Everett, Col..
n.d.1 itemBox 2
 Everett, Edward, 1794-1865.
18522 itemsBox 2
 Farmers' and Mechanics' Bank in the City of Philadelphia.
1853 February 51 itemBox 2
 Fausard, Joshua.
1852 January 281 itemBox 2
 Fellerer, E..
18522 itemsBox 2
 Fellows, E. R..
1852 November 191 itemBox 2
 Fields, J..
1852 November 161 itemBox 2
 Fisher, Joshua Francis, 1807-1873.
n.d.1 itemBox 2
 Force, Peter, 1790-1868.
1852-18565 itemsBox 2
 Foreman, Edward R., 1808-1885.
18524 itemsBox 2
 Foulke, Jean Kane.
n.d.1 itemBox 2
 Fox, Catherine.
1862 October 261 itemBox 2
 Fox, J. L..
n.d.1 itemBox 2
 Fox, Margaret.
To Mrs. Ellet
n.d.2 itemsBox 2
 Fox, Margaret.
To Cornelius Grinnell
1853-18553 foldersBox 2
 Folder 1
1853-185416 itemsBox 2
 Folder 2
1855-n.d.15 itemsBox 2
 Folder 3
n.d.10 itemsBox 2
 Fox, Margaret.
To Elisha Kent Kane
1856, n.d.11 itemsBox 2
 Fox, Margaret.
To R. P. Kane
1857-18602 foldersBox 2
 Folder 1
1857-185821 itemsBox 2
 Folder 2
1859-1860, n.d.15 itemsBox 2
 Fox, Margaret.
To Mr. Philips
n.d.1 itemBox 2
 Fox, Margaret.
To William Quinn
18603 itemsBox 2
 Fox, Margaret (mother).
1856 June 24, n.d.2 itemsBox 2
 Fox-Kane Correspondence.
n.d.1 itemBox 2
 Fox-Kane Correspondence (bundl.
1853; 1858-1860; 18623 foldersBox 2
 Folder 1
1853; 185817 itemsBox 2
 Folder 2
1859-186015 itemsBox 2
 Folder 3
1862; n.d.24 itemsBox 2
 Fox-Kane Correspondence.
In re publication
n.d.1 itemBox 2
 Fox-Kane Correspondence.
In re schooling
18538 itemsBox 2
 Franklin, Jane Griffin, Lady, 1792-1875.
1849-18572 foldersBox 3
 Folder 1
1849-185213 itemsBox 3
 Folder 2
1853-185712 itemsBox 3
 Freeland, Benjamin.
  Box 3

See Vreeland, Benjamin

 French, Benjamin.
1847 November 231 itemBox 3
 Fronti, Gabriel.
18493 itemsBox 3
 Frost, C. C..
1852 December 31 itemBox 3
 Gaona, Macuin.
18482 itemsBox 3
 Garcia, J. M..
1848 May 271 itemBox 3
 George, Joseph.
1819-18287 itemsBox 3
 Ghiselin, J. D., Jr..
18492 itemsBox 3
 Giddings, C. S..
1852 October 201 itemBox 3
 Gleason, J. T..
1852-18532 itemsBox 3
 Goddard, Charles.
n.d.1 itemBox 3
 Goodfellow, Henry..
1853 May 121 itemBox 3
 Governor of Luxor.
n.d.1 itemBox 3
 Graham, W. A..
1852 June 161 itemBox 3
 Gray, N. B..
1845 April 71 itemBox 3
 Greeley , Horace, 1811-1872.
18583 itemsBox 3
 Green, Dr..
n.d.1 itemBox 3
 Greene, James M..
1847-18483 itemsBox 3
 Gregg, O. O..
1853 January 131 itemBox 3
 Greig, John.
1851-18563 itemsBox 3
 Grinnell, Cornelius.
1851-18573 foldersBox 3
 Folder 1
1851-185217 itemsBox 3
 Folder 2
1853-18579 itemsBox 3
 Folder 3
n.d.15 itemsBox 3
 Grinnell, Henry.
1851-18573 foldersBox 3
 Folder 1
1851-185218 itemsBox 3
 Folder 2
185314 itemsBox 3
 Folder 3
1854-185715 itemsBox 3
 Grinnell, R. M..
1854 April 281 itemBox 3
 Gunnell, Francis B..
18522 itemsBox 3
 Guthrie, J. B..
1847 November 91 itemBox 3
 Gutzlaff, Charles.
1842 May 241 itemBox 3
 Gwin, W. M..
1855 February 71 itemBox 3
 Hacker, W. P..
1852-185-2 itemsBox 3
 Haghe, C..
n.d.1 itemBox 3
 Haines, R..
1846 January 201 itemBox 3
 Hamilton, James, 1710-1783.
1852 October 111 itemBox 3
 Harper and Brothers.
1853 January 111 itemBox 3
 Harris, Samuel G..
1852-18532 itemsBox 3
 Harris, Thomas.
1847-18532 foldersBox 3
 Folder 1
1847-185115 itemsBox 3
 Folder 2
1852-1853, n.d.16 itemsBox 3
 Harris, William.
1842-18524 itemsBox 3
 Harrison, T..
n.d.1 itemBox 3
 Hawkins, Rush C..
1853 April 161 itemBox 3
 Hawks, Francis L..
18532 itemsBox 3
 Hays, Isaac Israel.
1852-n.d.3 itemsBox 3
 Hays, Otis.
1848-n.d.2 itemsBox 3
 Headley, G. T..
1856 November 191 itemBox 3
 Heiskell, H. L..
18472 itemsBox 3
 Henry, Joseph.
18514 itemsBox 3
 Hilgard, J. E. (Julius Erasmus), 1825-1891.
1852-18537 itemsBox 3
 Hollins, R. S..
1852 January 281 itemBox 3
 Horner, G. M. B..
List of materials
18521 itemBox 3
 Hudson, Frederick.
1855 October 91 itemBox 3
 Hughs, C..
1852 January 61 itemBox 3
 Humboldt, Alexander von, 1769-1859.
1853 March 81 itemBox 3
 Humphreys, Bevan.
1843 March 211 itemBox 3
 Hunter, W..
1845 April 261 itemBox 3
 Hutchinson, Thomas, 1711-1780.
n.d.1 itemBox 3
 Inglefield, E. A..
1855-n.d.3 itemsBox 3
 Ingraham, Edward D. (Edward Duncan), 1793-1854.
18462 itemsBox 3
 Ingraham, Miss.
n.d.1 itemBox 3
 Irving, Washington.
18451 itemBox 3
 John Godsby and Son.
1853 January 241 itemBox 4
 Johnson, G. N..
1852 February2 itemsBox 4
 Johnson, Thomas H..
18484 itemsBox 4
 Jones, Alexander.
1852 January 211 itemBox 4
 Joyner, L. S..
1841 January 211 itemBox 4
 Judkins, D..
1852 February 111 itemBox 4
 Justice, George.
n.d.2 itemsBox 4
 Kane, C. V. L..
n.d.1 itemBox 4
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
1825-[1847?]2 itemsBox 4
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Access to the North Pole
n.d.17 p., 2 copiesBox 4
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Access to the North Pole
n.d.17 p.Box Oversize
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Africa: miscellaneous
ca.18462 foldersBox 4
 Folder 1
ca.18469 p. Two items.Box 4
 Folder 2
ca.184626p.Box 4

Includes census information on Africans recaptured and sent to Liberia, information on productions of Liberia, Meterological chart for Monrovia, November 1846, etc.

 Africa Notes, E.K. Kane
undated Box Oversize
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Agreement with Thomas Leiper Kane to resign commission
1842 September 242p.Box 4
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Arctic Expedition: Bills and Receipts
1846-185522 itemsBox 4
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Arctic Expedition: Diary
1850-185127p.Box 4
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Arctic Expedition: Library
n.d.1 itemBox 4
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Arctic Expedition: Meteorlogical Observations
1850-185130p.Box 4
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Arctic Expedition: Meteorlogical Observations
1853-18542 p.Box 4
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Arctic Expedition: Meteorological charts
n.d.3 p.oversize 1
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Arctic Expedition: miscellaneous
1850-1853, n.d.22 foldersBox 4
 Folder 1
1850-1851 Box 4
 Folder 2
1850-1851 Box 4
 Folder 3
1852-1853 Box 4
 Folders 4-22
n.d. Box 4
 Arctic Expedition Notes, E.K. Kane
undated Box Oversize
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Arctic expedition proposal
1852 November 23AMs (3 p.)Box 5
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Arctic Expedition: Return of Deserters
1856 December24 p.Box 5
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Arctic Expedition: Sick list
1850-18512 notebooksBox 5
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Arctic Expedition: Supplies
n.d.6 itemsBox 5
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Arctic Expedition: Whalefish Islands, etc.
n.d.14 p.Box 5
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Arctic expedition proposal
1852 November 23AMs (3 p.)Box 5
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Arctic Regions (notes)
n.d.AMs (12 p.)Box 5
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Arcticles that were in use of Elisha Kent Kane
n.d.1 itemBox 5
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Bank check
18442 itemsBox 5
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Book of estimates, Macao
18451 itemBox 5
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Canceled checks
185221 itemsBox 5
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Catalogue of the Library of the U.S.S. United States
1846 May 91 itemBox 5
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Childhood notebook
n.d.1 notebookBox 5
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
China miscellaneous
1844-18453 foldersBox 5
 Folder 1
18444 itemsBox 5
 Folder 2
1844-1845 Box 5
 Folder 3
1844-1845 Box 5
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
China and India (notes)
n.d.1 notebookBox 5
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
China correspondence
1844-18458 itemsBox 5
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Claim for service as Cushing Mission physician
18443 itemsBox 5
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Climate (notes)
n.d.AMs (4 p.)Box 5
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Controversy on "Grinnell Land"
n.d.1 notebookBox 5
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Court martial material
n.d.1 itemBox 5
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Curry recipes
n.d.1 itemBox 5
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Description of his watch
n.d.1 itemBox 5
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Egypt, etc. notebook
n.d.1 notebook, 5 p.Box 5
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Engineering notes, Charles Bonnycastle lectures, Univ. of Virginia
[ca. 18380]1 notebookBox 5
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
"An Esquimaux Round"
n.d.1 itemBox 5

Handwritten manuscript of an Inuit song written in European-style sheet music. Written noting three voice parts. The word "Translations" is written below the music, though the lines below this are blank. Location where the song was recorded is not given on the manuscript, but may potentially be recorded in other written accounts by Kane.

 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Examinations taken at the African Hospital
18411 itemBox 5
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Experiments on Lt. Morris' power to distinguish color
n.d.1 itemBox 5
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Franklin, John. Plan for a rescue mission
n.d.AMs (18 p.)Box 6
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Greenland notebook
n.d.AMs, 36 p.Box 6
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
18431 itemBox 6
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Last days and death
185714 itemsBox 6
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
n.d. Box 6
 Lecture I: Arctic Exploration
n.d.2 foldersBox 6
 Folder 1, undated
 Folder 2, undated
 Lecture II: The probable fate of Sir John Franklin...
n.d.3 foldersBox 6
 Folder 1, undated
 Folder 2, undated
 Folder 3, undated
 Lecture III: Arctic travel
n.d.1 folderBox 6
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Letters of condolence on Kane's death
1855-186112 itemsBox 6
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
List of medicines for J. Dent
1845 January 201 itemBox 6
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Lock of hair
18221 itemBox 6
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
To J. K. Kane (Gift from Eliza Cope Harrison and Robert Normandy Cope)
n.d.1 itemBox 6
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
To Maggie Fox
n.d.2 itemsBox 6
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Manila - rough notes
n.d.7 itemsBox 6
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Medical notes
n.d.2 foldersBox 6
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Memoranda. Baffin's Bay, Lancaster Sound
1851-18521 notebookBox 6
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Memorandum of cash advanced on account of copyright
18551 itemBox 6
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Meteorological Journal, North Africa
1835AMs (12 p.)Box 6
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Meteorological observations-Sierra Leone, Freetown
n.d.13 itemsBox 6
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
n.d.8 itemsBox 6
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
n.d.5 foldersBox 7
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
n.d.1 notebookBox 7
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
1843 August 131 itemBox 7
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Pay voucher
1848-1852AMs (4 p.)Box 7
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
n.d.1 itemBox 7
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Philippines notebooks
[1844]7 notebooksBox 7

Notebooks identified as #1, 3-8

 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Philippines notebook
[1844]?1 notebookBox 7
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
1935-n.d.3 itemsBox 7
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Power of attorney to J. K. Kane
1850 May 20AMs (1 p.)Box 7
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Power of attorney to J. K. Kane
1850 May 26AMs (1 p.)Box 7
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Receipt for a Haggis
n.d.AMs (1 p.)Box 7
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Report on discovery of "Grinnell Land"
n.d.AMs (7 p.)Box 7
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Rio de Janeiro
n.dAMs (4 p.)Box 7
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Rough Notes of the Ke-Ying Visit, Macao
1844AMs, 16 p.Box 7
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Sketch of ship floor plan
n.d.1 drawingBox 7
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
n.d.2 foldersBox 7
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Slave Voyage Notebook
n.d.1 notebook, 4 p.Box 7
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Spirit thermometers
n.d.1 itemBox 7
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
"Testimonials" and "letters scr. for Dr. E. K. Kane"
1843 March1 itemBox 7
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Travel notes, miscellaneous
n.d.AMs (24 p.)Box 7
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Whampoa medical affairs
1844AMs (6 p.)Box 7
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
18572 itemsBox 7
 Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Unidentified correspondent
1843-1852, n.d.5 foldersBox 7
 Folder 1
1843-18527 itemsBox 7
 Folders 2-5
n. d. Box 7
 Kane, Elizabeth.
1952, n.d.4 itemsBox 7
 Kane, Family.
1850-18536 itemsBox 7
 Kane, Francis Fisher, 1866-1955.
1921 December 201 itemBox 7
 Kane, Jack and Willie.
n.d.1 itemBox 7
 Kane, James.
n.d.1 itemBox 7
 Kane, Jane D. L..
1828-1856, n.d.5 foldersBox 7
 Folder 1
1828-184615 itemsBox 7
 Folder 2
1847-184813 itemsBox 7
 Folder 3
1849-185016 itemsBox 7
 Folder 4
1851-185611 itemsBox 7
 Folder 5
n.d.23 itemsBox 7
 Kane , John K. (John Kintzing), 1795-1858.
1841-1857, n.d.6 foldersBox 8
 Folder 1
1841-184613 itemsBox 8
 Folder 2
1847-184917 itemsBox 8
 Folder 3
1850-185210 itemsBox 8
 Folder 4
1853-185711 itemsBox 8
 Folder 5
n.d.36 itemsBox 8
 Folder 6
n.d.26 itemsBox 8
 Kane, John Kintzing, Jr..
1846-18475 itemsBox 8
 Kane, M., Jr..
1847 November 81 itemBox 8
 Kane, Robert Patterson, 1827-1.
1844-1859, n.d.3 foldersBox 8
 Folder 1
1844-185923 itemsBox 8
 Folder 2
n.d.13 itemsBox 8
 Folder 3
n.d.17 itemsBox 8
 Kane, Robert Patterson, 1827-1.
Letters to Margaret Fox
1858-18598 itemsBox 8
 Kane, Thomas Leiper, 1822-1883.
1844-18605 foldersBox 8
 Folder 1
1844-184611 itemsBox 8
 Folder 2
1847-185011 itemsBox 8
 Folder 3
1851-186013 itemsBox 8
 Folder 4
n.d.24 itemsBox 8
 Correspondence with other Kane family members
n.d. Box 8
 Kane, William L..
1844-184911 itemsBox 8
 Kane Bros. and Co..
n.d.1 itemBox 8
 Kane Family.
1850-18536 itemsBox 8
 Kearney, John A..
1846-18525 itemsBox 8
 Kelly, P. E..
1854 September 271 itemBox 8
 Kemp, Mrs. V..
1848, n.d.2 itemsBox 8
 Kennedy, C. W..
1849 December 251 itemBox 8
 Kennedy, G. P..
1853 March 71 itemBox 8
 Kennedy, J. L..
1848 March 91 itemBox 8
 Kennedy, John P..
1852-185417 itemsBox 8
 Kennedy, William.
1852-18537 itemsBox 8
 Kenrick, Bishop.
1843 April 31 itemBox 8
 Kilty, A. H..
1847 January 71 itemBox 8
 Kimball, William H..
1846 October 211 itemBox 8
 Kobeth, Henry.
1845 April 121 itemBox 8
 Kopler, Peter C. (Pass).
1845 May 261 itemBox 8
 Kopman, Sidney.
1857-18586 itemsBox 8
 Kossuth, Louis.
Dinner seating arrangement
n.d.1 itemBox 8
 Krebs, W. G..
1856 October 101 itemBox 8
 Krider, John.
Account with gunsmith
18542 itemsBox 8
 Lathrop, I. H..
1852 November 221 itemBox 8
 Leavitt, Joshua.
1853 March 261 itemBox 8
 Leiper, Elizabeth.
1845-18536 itemsBox 8
 Leiper, Mary T..
1843-185216 itemsBox 8
 Leiper, S. M..
1845-18532 itemsBox 8
 Leiper, Thomas.
1855, n.d.2 itemsBox 8
 Leiper, William J..
1847, n.d.3 itemsBox 8
 Lepsius, R..
n.d.1 itemBox 8
 Lewis, R. F..
1853 March 281 itemBox 8
 Lisle, Leo.
n.d.1 itemBox 8
 Litchfield, J. P..
1853 February 141 itemBox 9
 Loomis, E..
n.d.1 itemBox 9
 Loring, John W..
1852 February 161 itemBox 9
 Lossing, Benson J..
1852-18565 itemsBox 9
 Lovell, William L..
1853 February 11 itemBox 9
 Ludlow, S. W..
1853 January 171 itemBox 9
 Lumley, J. Saville.
18562 itemsBox 9
 Lynch, W. F..
1849-18523 itemsBox 9
 Macalester, Charles.
1849-18533 itemsBox 9
 Macauley, D..
1853 January 191 itemBox 9
 Manning, George.
1854 December 81 itemBox 9
 Mason, John Y..
1847-18488 itemsBox 9
 Maupin, S..
1852 January 291 itemBox 9
 Maury, Mathew F..
1852-18568 itemsBox 9
 Mayer, B..
1856 October 91 itemBox 9
 Mayo, H. O..
1847 January 6, n.d.2 itemsBox 9
 McAuley, H. W..
1839 January 311 itemBox 9
 McBlair, T. P..
1853 January 181 itemBox 9
 McBurgonyn, Mr..
1853 January 221 itemBox 9
 McCauley, E. G..
1847 May 121 itemBox 9
 McClure, Robert.
1855 February 191 itemBox 9
 McGill, S. F..
18462 itemsBox 9
 McSherry, R..
1848-18496 itemsBox 9
 Meade, Edward.
1849 September 91 itemBox 9
 Mercantile Library Association.
1852 October 202 itemsBox 9
 Mercantile Library Association.
1852 August 21 itemBox 9
 Metts, H. C..
n.d.1 itemBox 9
 Mexico. Ministerio De Guerra Y.
1845 March 31 itemBox 9