1909 - 1911
Biographical or Historical Note
- Expedition. Carl Akeley organized the Akeley Expedition to British East Africa (1909-1911) to collect large game, especially
elephants, for the American Museum of Natural History and to photograph the flora, fauna and inhabitants of the region.
The Akeley Expedition to British East Africa (Kenya and Uganda) was led by Carl Akeley and his wife Delia to support the creation
of the Hall of African Mammals. The party included John T. McCutcheon, a political cartoonist and war correspondent for the
Chicago Tribune, and Fred Stephenson a big game hunter from Minnesota. The AMNH expedition returned to the sites Akeley visited
during his previous collecting trips for the Field Museum. In 1909, the expedition connected with Theodore Roosevelt's Smithsonian
African Expedition to collect elephant specimens for the Museum. Both expeditions produced films and photographs that documented
the region. The AMNH expedition almost ended abruptly in 1910 when Akeley was severely injured by a charging elephant bull,
barely surviving the ordeal.
Chronology adapted from Penelope Bodry-Sanders book, African Obsession: the Life and Legacy of Carl Akeley.
(1) American Museum of Natural History Annual Report #43 1911, p. 32.
(2) American Museum Journal, IX, 6, Oct. 1909, p. 137; XII, 2, Feb. 1912, pp. 43-62.
(3) African Obsession, The Life and Legacy of Carl Akeley by Penelope Bodry-Sanders, 1998.
(4) Kingdom Under Glass A Tale of Obsession, Adventure, and One Man's Quest to Preserve the World's Great Animals By Jay Kirk,
(5) Europeans in East Africa website, http://www.europeansineastafrica.co.uk/
(6) Smithsonian Institution Archives, Accession 06-093, Smithsonian African Expedition (1909-1910), Lantern Slides from the
Smithsonian-Roosevelt African Expedition. https://siarchives.si.edu/collections/siris_arc_259453
(7) Wikipedia, visited on March 5, 2021. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smithsonian%E2%80%93Roosevelt_African_Expedition
(8) Dugmore, Arthur Radclyffe. “Camera Adventures in the African Wilds.” 1913.
(9) Wikipedia, visited on March 8, 2021. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Radclyffe_Dugmore
(10) American Museum Journal, XVI, 3, March 1916, p.154.
(11) Clark, James L. “The Caves of Mt. Elgon.” Natural History 28, no. 2 (1928): 175-187.
- August 31, 1909: The party departs Naples, Italy via SS Adolph Woermann, where they are introduced to Sir Percy Girouard, the new British East
Africa governor, Naples.
- Mid-September 1909: Arrive in Mombasa, Sir Percy Girouard invites expedition party to travel by private rail to Nairobi, Mombasa.
- September 1909: In Nairobi the party reconnects with old acquaintances and purchases supplies for the journey. Spend five weeks on the Athi
Plains for their first visit hunting antelope and lion, traveling toward the Tana River, Nairobi.
- October 1909: Spend two weeks hunting rhino and lion, in the Lower Tana River Valley, Delia Akeley captures a small monkey and names her
J.T. Jr., Tana River.
- October 1909: Hunting for elephants in Mt. Kenya, Kirinyaga.
- Early November 1909: Left Londoniani to meet up with Theodore Roosevelt and the Smithsonian African Expedition (1909-1910) for 3 days of hunting
elephants for the AMNH on the newly opened Uasin Gishu Plateau, Uasin Gishu.
- November 1909 - December 1909: James L. Clark joins the expedition to help with the Roosevelt hunt and stays on to hunt elephants with the group for the
museum, at one-point visiting the Luhya people living around and in caves of Mt. Elgon. On Christmas Eve Fred Stephenson and
John McCutcheon collect two elephant bulls, Elgon, Mount.
- Early 1910: John and Fred leave the expedition, Carl and Delia continue to Uganda to hunt elephants for months. Both becoming ill, Uganda.
- Spring 1910: To recover, they visit the Uasin Gishu Plateau again. Carl films Nandi lion hunts and is frustrated by the limitations of
the movie camera he is using and inspired to create a better field camera , Uasin Gishu.
- Early May 1910: Travel to Mt. Kenya to hunt elephant, Kirinyaga.
- June 24, 1910: While on Mt. Kenya Carl is attacked by a bull elephant, Kirinyaga.
- July 1910 - September 1910: Carl spends 3 months recovering and attempting to hunt on Mt. Kenya. Eventually they moved on to Nairobi by way of the Trans-Tana
River. Delia puts Carl into a Nairobi hospital where he shares a room with his friend Leslie Tarlton, eventually moves to
Tarlton’s home for recovery. During this time Akeley’s idea for the AMNH African Hall is solidified
- Mid-October 1910: Move on to Uganda to hunt elephants., Uganda.
- December 1910: Carl and Delia spend Christmas with the Tegerts, missionary friends living in Masindi. They continue elephant hunting eventually
collecting one last elephant, Masindi.
- 1911: Travel home to New York City, host Manhattan Banquet for their return around Thanksgiving, New York.