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Featured Collection

D-Lib Magazine
December 2003

Volume 9 Number 12

ISSN 1082-9873

Discovering Lewis & Clark®


Type of military hat worn by some members of the Corps of Discovery. Copyright VIAs, Inc. Used with permission.

One of the greatest expeditions of discovery in American history is the one led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark in 1804 -- 1806 at the direction of President Thomas Jefferson who charged Lewis to:

"explore the Missouri river & such principal stream of it as by its course and communication with the waters of the Pacific ocean, whether the Columbia, Oregon, Colorado or any other river may offer the most direct & practicable water communication across this continent for the purpose of commerce."

Though the wealth of information gleaned by the expedition did not receive appropriate attention and acclaim at the time of its conclusion, since then, the discoveries and great adventure of the Lewis and Clark expedition have engaged the interest, imagination and appreciation of historians and others.

Discovering Lewis & Clark® is an interactive online collection that gathers and provides access to a wealth of information about the Lewis and Clark expedition, including preparations for the expedition and details of its immediate aftermath.

Illustration of cache used by Lewis and Clark

Illustration of cache used by Lewis and Clark to store supplies. Copyright VIAs, Inc. Used with permission.

Self-described as "a hyperhistory in progress," Discovering Lewis & Clark® currently is made up of more than 1,500 web pages. The collection introduces at least one major new feature each month (the absence of updates for October and November, 2003, is due to protracted work on a 55-page treatment of the Falls of the Missouri, which is to be mounted before the end of December). Plans are for the collection to grow through 2006 and beyond.

Joseph Mussulman, VIAs, Inc. (a non-profit 501(c)(3) entity) is the producer of Discovering Lewis & Clark®. He is supported by numerous experts and members of creative, production and technical teams.

The purpose of the Discovering Lewis & Clark® collection is "to identify issues, values, and visions from the decade of the [Lewis and Clark] Expedition; to trace their manifestations in the intervening 200 years with eloquence, wit, and passion; and to identify some lessons and meanings for the 21st Century." It is aimed for a general audience of all ages.

The collection's web site makes use of Flash technology to provide a lively interface to the various components of the collection, but users may opt to navigate a non-Flash version as well.

Illustration of the area in Washington and Oregon explored by Lewis and Clark

Illustration of the area in Washington and Oregon explored by Lewis and Clark. Copyright VIAs, Inc. Used with permission.

The site also employs a number of multimedia techniques to enhance the user's experience with content, such as providing movies and audio files. Users will need the most recent QuickTime® and Flash® plug-ins to take advantage of the multimedia, but links to both are provided on the Introduction page to the Discovering Lewis & Clark® web site and are available free of charge. For best viewing of site content, the latest versions of web browsers are needed.

Financial support for Discovering Lewis & Clark® has been received from the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Park Service, Montana Committee for the Humanities, Montana Cultural Trust, Oregon Council for the Humanities, Pittsburgh Foundation, The University of Montana Bookstore, Idaho Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Community Assistance Grants Program, and Lee Enterprises, Inc. Discovering Lewis & Clark® is endorsed by the National Lewis & Clark Bicentennial Council.

On December 12, 2003, Discovering Lewis & Clark® received funding to begin re-designing the site's page layout, as well as the internal structure of the site. For one thing, the navigation frame—which was an innovation in 1998—will be discarded, and navigation utilities will be integrated into every page, thereby facilitating entry into the site at any point. This work is scheduled for completion by May 14, 2004.

Discovering Lewis & Clark® is located at Plan to spend many enjoyable hours "exploring" Discovering Lewis & Clark®.

Copyright© 2003 Corporation for National Research Initiatives

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DOI: 10.1045/december2003-featured.collection