US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Archives of natural history 37 (1): 28–38. 2010; DOI: 10.3366/E0260954109001636


The public record of Major Stephen H. Long’s 1819–1820 exploration of the American north-west, Account of an expedition from Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains, compiled by Edwin James, contains valuable contributions regarding the natural landscapes, native peoples and wildlife of a mostly unexplored region of the American west compiled from the notes of some of America’s foremost naturalists, and it includes the first descriptions of 67 new species. The original plan was to publish the Account in Philadelphia and London simultaneously, yet these two editions differ substantially in ways that are relevant to the taxonomic contributions in the work. It is generally assumed that the Philadelphia edition was published in early January 1823 and was available first, but little substantive evidence has been presented to support its priority over the London edition. Review of contemporary correspondence and periodicals indicates the Philadelphia edition was available and for sale on 31 December 1822, whereas the London edition was available in late February 1823. As previously assumed by most sources, the Philadelphia edition has priority of publication and is the authority for most species names. Its correct year of publication, however, is 1822 rather than 1823.