Missouri Digital Heritage :: Collections :: The Lewis & Clark Expedition

Missouri State Archives
The Lewis & Clark Expedition

In 1804, President Thomas Jefferson sent Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on the now-legendary transcontinental expedition to explore the American West. He instructed them to search for the fabled Northwest Passage from the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean, but he also desired firsthand knowledge of the land, its inhabitants, its vegetation, its mineral products, and its animal life and habitat.

Lewis and Clark and their Corps of Discovery triumphantly returned to St. Louis in 1806. Though unsuccessful in their mission to find a water route to the Pacific, they came back with the other information Jefferson wanted – their journals and sketchbooks were filled with incredible details of the western lands. Their journey sparked the American imagination and territorial Missouri quickly became a gateway to the west.

  • Lewis & Clark in Missouri
    Created by executive order in 1998, the Missouri Lewis & Clark Bicentennial Commission's mission is to "rekindle the spirit of discovery, achievement, and wonder fostered by the original expedition."

  • The Lewis & Clark Historic Landscape Mapping Project
    Taking nineteenth century land survey records held at the Missouri State Archives and combining them with modern mapping technology, geographers from the Geographic Resources Center produced something unique and original: they re-created the world of Lewis and Clark in beautifully rendered historic maps and gave us a new way to look at the Lewis & Clark Expedition in Missouri.

  • Mapping Lewis & Clark in Missouri Curriculum
    Elementary, middle, and high school curriculum units based on the Lewis & Clark Historic Landscape Mapping Project. The material is grounded in geography to awaken in students a greater awareness of the human need to define and describe the space around us, as well as an appreciation for the spirit of discovery as evidenced in the compelling drama of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

  • St. Louis Circuit Court Project
    Court records detailing some of Lewis and Clark’s legal activities in St. Louis as well as those of some of the expedition's crew.  The records are valuable in understanding the dynamics of territorial Missouri.