Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in History






Kuril Islands (Russia), Kamchatska︠i︡a oblastʹ (Russia) -- Description and travel, Kamchatska︠i︡a oblastʹ (Russia) -- History



Physical Description

1 online resource (xliii, 615 leaves)


This thesis is the only complete and unabridged English translation of Stepan Petrovich Krasheninnikov’s Opisanie Zemli Kamchatki (The Description of the Land of Kamchatka), first published in 1755 by the Imperial Russian Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg. Krasheninnikov (1711-1755) was a member of the Second Bering Expedition (1733-1741), one of the most ambitious scientific expeditions of any age. Its purpose was sixfold: 1) to explore and map Siberia; 2) to establish whether Asia and America were separated by water; 3) to explore Kamchatka; 4) to chart all waters between Kamchatka, America and Japan; 5) to map the entire Arctic coast from the White Sea around to the mouth of the Kamchatka River; 6) to explore the northwest coast of America. Krasheninnikov, a young Russian student when the explorations began, was assigned to assist the distinguished expedition scientists from the Academy of Sciences. As the years went by and his abilities became manifest he was assigned the responsibility of exploring and describing Kamchatka. Still in his mid-twenties, he walked, worked and recorded three and a half years of scientific notes about this still forbidding land. He included detailed descriptions of the geography and natural history of Kamchatka, ethnographic studies of the native tribes and their language, customs, appearance, beliefs and way of life, and the history of Kamchatka from the first Russian penetration late in the seventeenth century. His work is a great scientific tour de force which remains the classic treatise on Kamchatka. Although Opisanie Zemli Kamchatki has been published several times in Russia and has been translated into German and French, the only previous English translation is an interesting but very free and drastically abridged version by James Grieve, a Scottish physician in Russian service, which was published in London in 1764 and reissued by photo offset in Chicago in 1962. The present annotated translation includes an introduction which gives some background on Russian eastward expansion, the fur trade, and the two Bering expeditions. A bibliography is appended.


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Portland State University. Dept. of History

Persistent Identifier