Skip to main content

Robert Stuart and Pacific Fur Company Manuscript

Identifier: SC MS 0184

Scope and Contents

The manuscript contains 289 blue inked numbered (upper outer corners) pages in a ruled notebook. Not all these pages are used: the first 227 pages are written on only on the right hand side of the page in neat black ink cursive script with some red underlining; pages 228 to 246 are blank; pages 247 to 257 resume the black ink cursive narrative; pages 258 to 289 are again blank. The title page is “Journal of a Voyage across The Continent of North America from Astoria The Pacific Fur Companys principal Establishment on the Columbia To the City of New York kept by Robert Stuart.”


  • Creation: 1812-1813


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Collection housed remotely. Users need to contact 24 hours in advance.

Biographical / Historical

Robert Stuart’s journey was undertaken to carry dispatches from the Pacific Fur Company’s trading post, Astoria in Oregon Territory, to Astor in New York. The journey took ten months from 1812 to 1813. During this eastward journey Stuart and his six companions discovered the South Pass (southern Wyoming) through the Rockies. This discovery was monumental in the concept of Manifest Destiny of the West as it opened a route that was passable by wagon. It established a wagon route for the western emigrant trails such as the Oregon Trail going to the north, the Mormon Trail going to the south and the California Trail. The Lewis and Clark Expedition and others explored the West by horseback, canoe and foot, their explorations and trapping expeditions did not allow for wagon travel. The Stuart journey eastward overland to the Mississippi River discovering the opening gap in the Rocky Mountain chain opened the West to settlement. Stuart and the Pacific Fur Company began as fur trappers and traders but helped fulfill the Manifest Destiny concept.


20.5 cm x 25.5 cm x 2.5 cm

Language of Materials



This manuscript is a handwritten copy of an original journal made by Robert Stuart, a junior partner of John Jacob Astor’s Pacific Fur Company, during his overland trip from the mouth of the Columbia River on the Pacific Ocean via St. Louis on the Mississippi River to New York City where Astor had his office. The narrative in this manuscript describes the day to day struggle of discovery, and observations of terrain, flora, fauna, and native tribes encountered along the way.


The manuscript is a chronological progression from June 29, 1812 to May 24, 1813 in diary format.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Acquired in 1890.


No additions anticipated.

Related Materials

Irving, Washington (1964) “Astoria or Anecdotes of an Enterprise beyond the Rocky Mountains,” Edited and with an Introduction by Edgeley W. Todd, Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 555 p.

McCartney, Laton (2003) “Across the Great Divide: Robert Stuart and the Discovery of the Oregon Trail,” New York: Free Press (Division of Simon and Schuster), 307 p.

Rollins, Philip Ashton; Editor (1935) “The Discovery of the Oregon Trail – Robert Stuart’s Narratives of his overland trip Eastward from Astoria in 1812-1813. From the Original Manuscripts in the Collection of William Robertson Coe, Esq.” New York: Edward Eberstadt and Sons, 391 p.

Spaulding, Kenneth A.; Editor (1953) “On the Oregon Trail – Robert Stuart’s Journey of Discovery,” Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 192 p.

Physical Description

20.5 cm x 25.5 cm x 2.5 cm


Finding Aid of the Robert Stuart and Pacific Fur Company Manuscript 1812-1813
Arielle Willett
September 30, 2010
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Lehigh University Special Collections Repository

Lehigh University
Linderman Library
30 Library Drive
Bethlehem PA 18045 USA
610-758-6091 (Fax)