Lewis and Clark: The Voyage of Discovery


Image from the Morning Oregonian, 1902. http://goo.gl/cU1Sny

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It has been said that every Oregon teacher has a lesson unit on Lewis & Clark that they personally cherish. We wouldn’t ask you to give it up! However, please be aware of all the related and authentic content available online on Historic Oregon Newspapers online.

An interesting fact that comes to light is that neither Lewis and Clark, nor their Voyage of Discovery, were always famous! Interest and awareness of the explorers had in fact waned throughout the 1800s and only truly revived around the turn of the 20th century. This is reflected in the digitized Historic Oregon Newspapers, where articles about the celebrated explorers are exceedingly rare prior to 1900. (One notable exception is the Willamette Farmer’s 1879 obituary notice for the last surviving member of the expedition.) Given that Lewis and Clark are almost universally recognized names throughout America today, this can be a valuable lesson in the ways that “History” is not a static thing, but something that grows, evolves, and changes over time.

Listed below are a variety of articles that can be accessed through the Historic Oregon Newspapers website related to the Lewis and Clark Expedition. This is not a complete list, but rather a working list of all the newspapers and articles that can be connected with Lewis and Clark. To conduct further research, go to our advanced search option, which allows you to narrow down the years, key words, and specific newspaper. 

Oregon Common Core State Standards

Social Studies Standards:

  • Historical Knowledge 4.2: Explain how key individuals and events influenced the early growth and changes in Oregon.
  • Historical Thinking 4.6: Create and evaluate timelines that show relationships among people, events, and movements in Oregon history.
  • Historical Thinking 4.7: Use primary and secondary sources to create or describe a narrative about events in Oregon history.
  • Geography 4.10: Compare and contrast varying patterns of settlements in Oregon, past and present, and consider future trends.
  • Geography 4.12: Explain how people in Oregon have modified their environment and how the environment has influenced people’s lives.


Newspaper articles:

The articles are organized chronologically.

“Frozen To Death.” From Salem Willamette Farmer, March 7, 1879.

  • Obituary report of Tom Lewis, an African American who was the last surviving member of the Lewis & Clark Expedition.

“Benefactors Of Oregon.” From Portland Morning Oregonian, May 20, 1901.

  • Shorter article perfect for an in-class reading/discussion. Illustrated with portraits of the two explorers.

“As To The Descendants Of Lewis And Clark.” From Portland Sunday Oregonian, April 2, 1905. And “Colonel William Hancock Clark,” From Portland Morning Oregonian, August 26, 1901.

  • By the turn of the 20th century, many Americans were claiming to be descended from the famous duo—some fraudulently. Claims of ancestry among the famous and historical can be an interesting topic of class discussion, as we still see this going on today!

“First Across The Continent: Effect of the Lewis and Clark Expedition Upon the Westward Expansion of the United States.” From Portland Morning Oregonian, January 1, 1902.

  • This is a full-page, front-page article, well illustrated with portraits of the explorers, plus a large map of “The Oregon Country as defined by the Treaty of 1846.”

“The Conquest = Tale of Lewis and Clark.” From Portland Sunday Oregonian, November 2, 1902.

  • Eva Emery Dye of Oregon wrote one of the first, comprehensive books about Lewis and Clark, “The Conquest.” This article reviews the book, with extensive excerpts, and also relates some of the challenges Dye faced in researching her subjects.

“What Lewis And Clark Did.” From Portland Morning Oregonian, January 1, 1903.

  • Essay about the long-term effects of the Voyage of Discovery on the history of Oregon and the United States. Features a portrait photo gallery of many prominent Oregonians of the early, Territorial period.

“Talks Lewis and Clark.” From Portland Morning Oregonian, February 9, 1903.

  • Major William Hancock Clark, the grandson of Captain William Clark, discusses his ancestor’s accomplishments during the lead-up to the Lewis & Clark Exposition of 1905. Interesting to note here, that the Voyage of Discovery had been nearly forgotten in many quarters of the East at this time!

“Monument to Sergeant Floyd: First Man in the Lewis and Clark Company Who Lost His Life.” From The Sunday Oregonian, May 24, 1903.

  • This article describes the life of Sergeant Floyd, the first member in the Lewis and Clark expedition to perish, who will have a monument erected in his honor.


“Explorer Lies In Lonely Grave: Captain Meriwether Lewis Lies Buried In Heart Of Dismal Oak Forest In Tennessee.” From Portland Sunday Oregonian, April 16, 1905.

  • This article describes the grave site of the famous explorer, Captain Lewis, lying in shambles, in a dense forest with no one having visited, though his deeds have been renowned worldwide.


Local as well as national interest in Lewis & Clark was heightened during the lead-up to Portland’s “Lewis and Clark Centennial and American Pacific Exposition” of 1905. View the Exposition Banner here: http://oregonnews.uoregon.edu/lccn/sn83025138/1904-05-24/ed-1/seq-12/.

  • The class may discuss the meaning of the symbolism included on the flag.

“The Lewis and Clark Fair As Seen From Willamette Height.” From The Morning Oregonian, January 2, 1905 and From The Sunday Oregonian, March 19, 1905.

  • Images describe the Lewis and Clark Fair in Portland.


Listed below are other subsections that you may wish to explore that relate to Lewis & Clark.

“The Lewis and Clark Trail” From The Plaindealer, June 05, 1905.

  • This is a poem by Aldon Harness describing the ravels of Lewis and Clark. Harnees has published a variety of his poems in a book entitled “Lew and Clark: A Souvenir Book.”



Posted in Common Core: Social Science Grade 4, K-12 Lesson Plans

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