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Miles M. Jackson

explorer and businessman, was born a slave in German Flats, New York. He was owned by the Dougal family and spent his youth in Schenectady. It is very likely his mother was a slave (New York did not abolish slavery until 1827); his father was a freeman and a mariner. Following the death of his master, he was purchased by another owner. After gaining his freedom in 1796, Allen arrived in Boston in 1800 and went to sea just as his father had done. Indeed, many African Americans living in Boston had ties to the maritime industry in some way. Like other black mariners, Allen faced the risk of reenslavement when he traveled to Southern ports. Once he was saved from imprisonment by one of the ship's owners, who paid $300 for his release.

Allen's years at sea between 1800 and 1810 provided him with unique experiences ...

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was born in Baltimore, Maryland. His father was Israel Anderson and his mother was Henrietta Anderson. Though he planned on writing a study of trigonometry later in his life, Anderson appears to have attended only primary school in Baltimore. He faced harassment and physical abuse in school because of his race. Anderson also worked at a brickyard prior to moving to Liberia.

Henrietta Anderson decided to move to Liberia, and Anderson accompanied her and another woman (perhaps his sister) aboard the ship Liberia Packet to Monrovia in early 1852. Anderson stayed in Monrovia for over ten years after his arrival. He first became an apprentice to the accountant Ashbury Johns. Anderson also served in the Liberian militia, and reached the rank of ensign. Pan-Africanist intellectual Edward Wilmot Blyden met Anderson during an 1856 expedition to put down a rebellion by Kru people in southern Liberia For the rest ...

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M. W. Daly

British adventurer, explorer, and administrator, was born in London to Samuel Baker, a businessman, and his wife. Educated in England and Germany, and a civil engineer by training, he played a notable role in the history of the Upper Nile in the 1860s. His varied and peripatetic life as a planter, big-game hunter, writer, and controversialist may be studied in his extensive writings and the enormous literature on European travel in Africa.

His work in Africa began in 1861–1865 with explorations in the eastern Sudan, up the White Nile, (where he met James Augustus Grant and John Hanning Speke), and beyond to the Great Lakes. Credit for discovery of the source of the Nile has gone to Grant and Speke; Baker, famously accompanied by his second wife, Florence, explored and named Lake Albert Nyanza. For these adventures, embellished in several books, Baker was much acclaimed, and in 1869 as ...

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Jeremy Rich

cartographer, ethnographer, and traveler to Africa, was born in Vienna, then capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the son of Heinrich Baumann, who worked at a bank, and a mother, whose name is not recorded. His family had some Jewish ancestry, which would in 1938 prompt the Nazi government of Austria to destroy a monument erected to celebrate his African exploration. Though his parents do not seem to have been very prosperous, his distant relations in the wealthy von Arnstein banking family paid for his secondary education. Baumann attended primary and secondary schools in Vienna, and at the age of seventeen, joined the Imperial Royal Geographical Society based in the same city. He did some geographical research in Montenegro and began to study geography and geology at the University of Vienna, but in 1885 took a leave of absence from school to join an Austrian expedition to Central ...

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French explorer and administrator, was born on 26 January 1852 in Castel Gandolfo, Italy, to the aristocratic family of Ascanio Savorgnan de Brazza and Giacinta Simonetti de Brazza. Although he was born and raised in Italy, he volunteered to join the French navy and became an officer in 1869 and served in Algeria. In 1874, he proposed to the French Minister of the Navy an expedition to travel up the Ogooué River, the longest waterway in Gabon, to see if it eventually reached the Congo River. Although French officials had established a small coastal enclave on the northern Gabonese coast in 1843, the limited budget and personnel of the colony had restricted exploration of the Gabonese interior.

Brazza assembled a collection of several dozen Frenchmen and Senegalese soldiers for this mission His ability to combine intimidation with diplomacy proved very useful as he struggled to convince Adouma Fang ...

Article

After schooling and naval service in France, the Italian-born Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza became a naturalized French citizen in 1874. The following year he led his first official trip to Africa to explore Gabon. From 1875 to 1878 he traveled along the Gabon coast and up the Ogooué River to its source, also reaching the Alima River, a tributary of the Congo River. In 1880, in competition with American journalist and explorer Henry Stanley, Brazza traveled into the Congo River basin interior. There he signed a treaty with leaders of the Téké people, clearing the way for French control of the northern bank of the Congo River, an area that would be known as the Moyen-Congo. He served as general commissioner of the Moyen-Congo from 1884 to 1898, establishing the town that became Brazzaville and building the colonial administration As commissioner Brazza became disenchanted with ...

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Jeremy Rich

explorer and colonial official, was born in Nancy, France on 18 November 1864 the son of Charles Victor Crampel a devout Catholic tobacco inspector and Elisabeth Pierret After attending primary school in Nancy and Dordogne Crampel then attended secondary school in Périgueux and Bordeaux Since other civil servants had doubts about Crampel s father s loyalty to the French Republic due to his Catholic faith his career required Paul and the rest of the family to move frequently Like so many other young Frenchmen Crampel became interested in Africa through the work of explorer Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza whose first two expeditions to Africa received much coverage in the French press Crampel viewed both his mother s religious zeal and the discipline he endured in secondary education as backward Rather than continue his education as his father had hoped Crampel quit the prestigious Henry IV school where he ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

explorer, was born on La Réunion, a French colonial possession in the Indian Ocean, on 31 July 1831. His father was French; his mother was a mixed-race woman from Réunion. Du Chaillu later tried to hide his mixed-race ancestry and claimed he had been born in Paris. Du Chaillu's father was forced to flee Réunion to evade legal proceedings before his son's birth. However, Du Chaillu did manage to reach France, where he spent part of his adolescence training in Paris to become a taxidermist. His father found work for a French trading firm in the Gabon Estuary in 1846, which had been colonized by the French navy between 1839 and 1844. This fledgling colonial coastal enclave had attracted only a few French merchants, but was known as a source of ivory and camwood. With the coming of the Revolution of 1848 to France ...

Article

Raymond Dumett

treaty maker, cartographer, and one of the great West Africans of his generation, was born to an African mother and a Scottish father in the central coastal town of Anomabu in the Gold Coast’s Fanti region in present-day Ghana. Like several prominent members of the African middle class, he was educated at the famous Wesleyan School of Cape Coast. He also attended school in Sierra Leone. On the basis of strong recommendations, Ferguson was selected to join the colonial government as a clerk in 1881. In 1884 he began his career as a mapmaker by drawing a map of the Gold Coast Colony and Protectorate which was of assistance to the governor in showing the approximate boundaries of various linguistic groups their states and chieftaincies Ferguson proceeded from strength to strength and with each new job effectively completed he was rewarded with greater responsibilities by the colonial government ...

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David Killingray

Fantesurveyor and colonial agent born on the Gold Coast and educated in Freetown, Sierra Leone. He became a teacher and then a civil servant. As an employee of the Gold Coast colony he accompanied the Governor on a mission inland, producing a map that showed the ethnic divisions of the colony. He was entrusted with a further mission to the interior that resulted in Akwamu becoming part of the British protectorate. Ferguson's surveying skills were developed by his work with the British–German Boundary Commission of 1886. In 1887 he came to London and studied mining and surveying at the School of Mines, graduating with a first‐class certificate. During the 1890s Ferguson led important political missions to Asante and to the northern hinterland of what is now modern Ghana. By 1894 he had signed eighteen treaties of trade and friendship with northern rulers Ferguson s reports and precise ...

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Elizabeth P. Stewart

Arctic explorer, science teacher, and newspaper correspondent, was born Herbert Milton Frisby in South Baltimore, the oldest of the seven children of Ida Frisby (née Henry) and Joseph S. Frisby, a keeper of grain tallies in the port of Baltimore. Born into poverty, young Herbert Frisby worked his way through school by selling peanuts, working as a butler, and playing jazz piano. He graduated from Baltimore Colored High School in 1908 and earned his BA in Liberal Arts from Howard University in 1912. He received an MA in Education from Columbia University in 1936. Frisby married Annie Russell in 1919; they had one son, H. Russell Frisby Sr.

As a sixth-grader Frisby was inspired by the accomplishments of the explorer Matthew Henson, the first African American to reach the North Pole in 1909 with Admiral Robert E. Peary. When Henson ...

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Jeremy Rich

explorer and Baptist missionary pioneer in central Africa, was born in Sancreed, Cornwall, England, on 21 August 1849. His father moved the family to Birmingham in 1852. Although his father was an Anglican, Grenfell became interested in Baptist teachings and attended a Baptist church in his youth. When Grenfell reached the age of fifteen, he joined the great revival of 1859 that swept through much of England and was baptized. Like so many other British and North American missionaries in the nineteenth century, the books of David Livingstone captivated Grenfell with stories of adventure. Before seriously considering a missionary career, Grenfell worked as an apprentice at a hardware factory. This practical training later was extremely valuable in central Africa as Grenfell traveled on his steamer up and down the Congo River. In 1873 he decided to leave behind his work and previous religious training by enrolling at ...

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James Jankowski

Egyptian politician, athlete, and explorer, was born in Bulaq on 31 October 1889. He was the son of Shaykh Muhammad Hasanayn of al-Azhar and the grandson of Admiral Ahmad Pasha Mazhar Hasanayn. Hasanayn received his early education in Cairo, then at Balliol College, Oxford. A skilled fencer, in 1920 he captained the Egyptian team at the Olympic Games in Brussels. In the early 1920s, he was commissioned by King Fuʾad to explore Egypt’s Western Desert. The Lost Oases (1925) is his own account of his expedition of 1923 on which he traveled from Egypt’s Mediterranean coast through the Libyan Desert, discovering the “lost” oases of Arkenu and Ouenat, and for which he received the Founder’s Medal of Britain’s Royal Geographical Society. In the hope of establishing a long-distance flight record, in 1929 he learned to fly; plagued by malfunctioning aircraft, he eventually abandoned the effort.

Somewhat out ...

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Katherine G. Morrissey

Henson, Matthew Alexander (08 August 1866–09 March 1955), arctic explorer, was born in Charles County, Maryland, the son of Lemuel Henson, a sharecropper, and Caroline Gaines. Contradictory information exists about the details of his early life, but most accounts, including his autobiography, A Negro Explorer at the North Pole (1912), agree that Henson was orphaned at an early age, spent several years at the N Street School in Washington, D.C., and went to sea on the three-masted sailing vessel, Katie Hines, from Baltimore, when he was twelve or thirteen.

Henson who signed on as a cabin boy and later became an able bodied seaman spent six years on the ship under a Captain Childs After Childs s death Henson held several jobs ashore including that of a stock clerk for B H Steinmetz Sons a hatter and furrier in Washington D C In 1887 the store ...

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Sholomo B. Levy

Arctic explorer, was born in Charles County, Maryland, to Lemuel Henson, a sharecropper, and his wife, Caroline Gaines. As best as can be determined from the conflicting accounts of his life, Matthew's mother, Caroline, died when he was just two years old. His father then married Nellie, a neighbor with whom he already had a child. A few years later Lemuel died, leaving Matthew in the care of his abusive stepmother. Shortly after his eleventh birthday, Matthew left his five siblings and fled to Washington, D.C., where he worked for food and lodging at a restaurant owned by Janey Moore, whom he called “Aunt Janey.” He may have attended the N Street School in Washington before a seaman known as Baltimore Jack captured his imagination with tales of adventure upon the high seas.

At age twelve Henson signed on as cabin boy on the Katie ...

Article

Born in Charles County, Maryland, Matthew Alexander Henson began his career as a traveler when he was just a teen. He ran away from home after his parents' death and sailed around the world for six years as a hand aboard the merchant vessel Katie Hines.

Henson was working as a hat store clerk in Washington, D.C., in 1897 when Peary hired him as a valet. He traveled with Peary on a survey expedition to Nicaragua in 1897 and accompanied him on seven polar expeditions. Henson quickly proved indispensable to Peary as a navigator in the Arctic and as a translator among the Inuit (also known as Eskimos).

On April 6, 1909 an expedition made up of Peary Henson and four Inuit claimed to be the first to reach the North Pole Henson who usually broke trail while pulling a sled may have reached the Pole ...

Article

James McCarthy

Scottish explorer and geographer of Africa, was born in Edinburgh in 1844. Alexander Keith Johnston was the son of the eminent geographer and cartographer of the same name, who had established the highly respected engraving and mapmaking firm of W. & A. K. Johnston with his brother William. Although the young Keith was educated at prestigious schools in the Scottish capital, he was also tutored carefully by his father, and learned those European languages in which significant geographical material was published. Like his father, Keith’s interest extended well beyond conventional cartography, and he made important contributions to oceanography, hydrology, and global climatic influences. Both were influential figures in the Royal Geographical Society (RGS), itself the most important national institution in the promotion of worldwide discovery and the development of the nineteenth-century British Empire, not least in Africa.

After a period as superintendent of drawing and engraving at the prestigious ...

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Cheryl McEwan

British traveler, explorer, and writer, was born in Islington, London, on 13 October 1862. Her father was George Kingsley, a doctor and travel writer. Her mother was Mary Bailey. Kingsley was largely self-educated at home while caring for her invalid mother. Following the deaths of both parents in 1892, she embarked on her first journey to West Africa in August 1893. She traveled from Luanda to the Congo River estuary, through the French Congo to Fernando Po and to Calabar in the Oil Rivers Protectorate, returning to Britain early in 1894. Her second journey (December 1894–September 1895) took her from Sierra Leone to the Gold Coast and Calabar. From there she sailed to the mouth of the Ogowé River in the French Congo, exploring its lower reaches in July 1895 before traveling overland from Lambaréné to the Rembwé River which she followed to the coast ...

Article

Many Kingsley was born in London, the daughter of a medical doctor who traveled extensively. She made her first visit to Africa in 1893, following the deaths of her parents. Kingsley sailed to the Gulf of Guinea port of Calabar, on the coast of what is now Nigeria, and from there traveled inland. From the Niger River region to the north, she traveled southward as far as the lower Congo River region in what is now northern Angola. Throughout the trip she studied African religious practices.

Kingsley returned to England in 1894, but set out again for West Africa later that year, stopping first on the coast of what are now Cameroon and Gabon In Gabon she traveled by steamboat up the Ogooué River At Lambaréné she continued her river journey by canoe into the Great Forest region territory that was then seldom visited by ...

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Kenyatta D. Berry

stowaway and thwarted polar explorer, was probably born and raised in Brunswick, Georgia, but had moved to Jersey City, New Jersey, by the mid 1920s. Little is known about his early life. Seeking to become the first African American to reach the South Pole, he hid for three days on the City of New York, the flagship of the Byrd Antarctic Expedition. The Byrd Antarctic Expedition was lead by Richard Evelyn Byrd, a native Virginian who was the brother of U.S. Senator Harry Floyd Byrd. The ship left Manhattan on 26 August 1929 with three stowaways, including Lanier. The two other stowaways were found in time to ship them back on a harbor tug. Lanier was discovered three days later in the forecastle head between a crate and a side of the ship. The New York Times chronicled his discovery in a series of articles on ...