Henry Rowe Schoolcraft

Birth: 1793


Henry Rowe Schoolcraft (1793-1864), American traveller, ethnologist and author, was born on the 28th of March 1793 at what is now Guilderland, New York, and died at Washington on the 10th of December 1864. After studying chemistry and mineralogy in Union College he had several years' experience of their application, especially at a glass-factory of which his father was manager, and in 1817 published his Vitreology.

In the following year he collected geological and mineralogical specimens in Missouri and Arkansas, and in 1819 he published his View of the Lead Mines of Missouri. In 1820 he accompanied General Lewis Cass as geologist in his expedition to the Upper Mississippi and the Lake Superior copper region, and in 1823 he was appointed Indian agent for the Lake Superior country. More than sixteen millions of acres were ceded by the Indians to the United States in treaties which he negotiated.

He married the granddaughter of an Indian chief; and during several years' official work near Lake Superior, and later under authorization of an Act of Congress of 1847, he acquired much information as to institutions, &c., of the American natives. From 1828 to 1831 Schoolcraft was an active member of the Michigan legislature. In 1832, when on an embassy to some Indians, he ascertained the real source of the Mississippi to be Lake Itasca.

In 1825 he published Travels in the Central Portions of the Mississippi Valley, and in 1839 appeared his Algic Researches, containing Indian legends, notably, "The Myth of Hiawatha and other Oral Legends." He composed a considerable quantity of poetry and several minor prose works, especially Notes on the Iroquois (1846); Scenes and Adventures in the Ozark Mountains (1853). His principal book, Historical and Statistical Information respecting the Indian Tribes of the United States, illustrated with 336 plates from original drawings, in part a compilation, was issued under the patronage of Congress in six quarto volumes, from 1851 to 1857.


1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica, Volume 24. pg. 359.

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