Guide to the Edwin Jesse De Haven Papers, 1832-1928
A collection in the
Special Collections & Archives Department,
United States Naval Academy
589 McNair Road
Annapolis, MD 21402-5029
Prepared by: David D'Onofrio
(Original Guide by Mary R. Catalfamo, 1986)
Special Collections & Archives Department
United States Naval Academy
Edwin Jesse De Haven was born on May 7, 1816 to parents William and Maria (McKeever) De Haven in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On October 2, 1829, De Haven entered the Navy as a midshipman, serving on the U.S.S. Natchez (sloop-of-war) in the West Indies. Upon transferring to the Brazil Squadron (1832-1835), De Haven served aboard the U.S.S. Lexington (sloop-of-war) and again aboard the Natchez, whereupon he achieved the rank of passed midshipman.
In 1839, De Haven received his first lessons in polar exploration after joining the sloop-of-war U.S.S. Vincennes, flagship of the United States Exploring Expedition under the command of Lieutenant Charles Wilkes. The U.S. Exploring Expedition explored Antarctica, as well as the islands of the Pacific and the west coast of North America. It is during this expedition that De Haven is reputed to have saved the lives of several crew members of the U.S.S. Peacock (sloop-of-war) when it was wrecked at the mouth of the Columbia River. After being promoted to lieutenant in September 1841, De Haven served a succession of yearlong posts with the Home Squadron, including stations aboard the brigs Oregon (1842), Truxtun (1843), and Somers (1845), serving as recruiting officer aboard the latter. In 1848, he was assigned to the steamer U.S.S. Mississippi, seeing action in the Mexican War, including duties charting the Gulf of Mexico.
After a brief tenure at the Naval Observatory in Washington, DC, De Haven was chosen to command the first Grinnell Expedition (1850-1851) in search of Sir John Franklin and his party, who had disappeared during an expedition in the Arctic in 1845. In May 1850, the American expedition, consisting of the brigs Advance and Rescue, sailed from New York. While finding only traces of the Franklin Expedition, De Haven and his crew did discover and name Grinnell Land, now part of Ellesmere Island, Canada. The expedition returned to New York on September 30, 1851.
In 1852, De Haven sailed aboard the sloop-of-war U.S.S. Decatur in the North Atlantic, guarding American fishing interests. Shortly thereafter, in 1853, De Haven transferred to the Coast Survey, commanding a survey team consisting of the schooners Arago and Belle. After four years of service with the Coast Survey, which included, among other duties, conducting deep-sea soundings off the southern coast of the U.S., De Haven was detached from the Coast Survey on February 19, 1857 due to deteriorating eye sight, and was officially placed on the retired list in 1862. Edwin Jesse De Haven died in Philadelphia on May 1, 1865 and was buried in Old Christ Church Burial Ground, Philadelphia. He was survived by his wife, Mary Norris De Haven, and at least two children, a son Norris and a daughter Kate.
Scope and Content Note
The Edwin Jesse De Haven Papers, comprising ten linear inches of documents, spans from 1832 to 1928. The papers document, in varying levels of detail, the naval career of Edwin De Haven, with special focus on the Grinnell Arctic Expedition of 1850 to 1851 and De Haven's subsequent service with the Coast Survey until 1857.
The collection consists largely of correspondence and journals, with a smaller number of official navy records, reference materials, a single photograph, and a single publication.
The Edwin Jesse De Haven Papers are organized into five series based on document type. CORRESPONDENCE, 1835-1878, consists of incoming and outgoing letters of both a professional and personal nature. Absent from this series are any official orders, which despite their resemblance to general correspondence, are filed elsewhere with the official naval records. DIARIES AND JOURNALS, 1843-1926, consists of three diaries/journals originally written by Edwin De Haven, as well as excerpts from a journal by English explorer W. Parker Snow. U.S. NAVY FILES, 1832-1857, includes a sampling of De Haven's official orders, service record, reference material, and winter regulations aboard the U.S.S. Advance during the Grinnell Expedition. PHOTOGRAPHS contains a single portrait of Edwin De Haven, and PUBLICATIONS, 1928, contains a single issue of Proceedings of the United Sates Naval Institute.
In addition to the personal history of Edwin Jesse De Haven, research topics served by the De Haven papers include the history and methods of early Arctic exploration, especially the search for English explorer Sir John Franklin, and the hydrographic activities of the Coast Survey.
Arranged alphabetically by topic, thereunder chronologically.
Letters, both official and personal, sent to and from Edwin J. De Haven. The letters pertain to the first Grinnell Arctic Expedition in search of Sir John Franklin and, later, De Haven's work for the Coast Survey. Included in the series are originals, photostats, typescripts and handwritten copies of incoming and outgoing letters, as well as several letter books. Featured correspondents include Henry Grinnell, Secretaries of the Navy William Ballard Preston and William A. Graham, Elisha K. Kane, Lady Jane Franklin, W. Parker Snow, George W. Childs, and Mrs. E.J. De Haven.
Included among the Arctic Expedition correspondence is a memorial to Henry Grinnell, submitted to Congress in 1852, as well as one letter sent to Mrs. De Haven following Edwin’s death regarding medals presented to him by the British government. Also included are two folders of Photostats of correspondence and enclosures from the New York Historical Society.
Arranged alphabetically by author.
Diaries/journals kept by Edwin J. De Haven and two other authors. The diaries pertain to a cruise to Constantinople (Istanbul) aboard the Truxtun in 1843, the Grinnell Arctic Expedition (including De Haven's personal journal and personal copies of some log entries), and another expedition in search of Sir John Franklin led by W. Parker Snow. Included in the series are handwritten originals, as well as handwritten and typescript copies, of journals and logs.
Included with the 1843 diary (transcribed by Hannah De Haven) are typescripts of newspaper articles pertaining to the Grinnell Arctic Expedition, and letters (as well as congressional bills and testimony) regarding Mary De Haven’s attempts to collect Edwin's pension.
Arranged alphabetically by document title or type.
Official orders and Navy records, as well as policy and reference documents used by Edwin De Haven. The limited documentation pertains to several of De Haven's duty stations, including his time assigned to the Home Squadron aboard the brig Somers and USS Cumberland (including duties charting the Gulf of Mexico), the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington DC, the Grinnell Arctic Expedition, and the Coast Survey aboard the US Schooner Arago. Included in the series are official orders, accounting documents, shipping articles, and a statement of service covering De Haven's entire career.
Also included in this series is an inventory of supplies used by Sir William Edward Parry during his Arctic expeditions, most likely used by De Haven as a reference in preparation for the Grinnell Expedition.
A single, undated black-and-white portrait of Edwin Jesse De Haven.
A single issue of Proceedings of the United States Naval Institute, Volume 54, Number 305, July 1928, including an article entitled, “The De Haven Arctic Expedition: A Forgotten Page in American Naval History,” by Rear Admiral Albert Gleaves, beginning on page 579. Also included is a copy of the portrait of Edwin De Haven, plate xlvii.