In 1832 naturalist Prince Alexander Philipp Maximilian (1782-1867), ruler of the small state of Neuwied, Prussia [now in Germany], conducted one of the earliest expeditions to the American West to record the natural history of the region. Accompanying him were Swiss-born artist Karl Bodmer, who produced numerous drawings illustrating their travels, and David Dreidoppel, Maximilian's servant and a skilled hunter-taxidermist. Although Maximilian and Bodmer were not the first to explore the American West and record their observations, they were the first team combining a trained, dedicated scientist with an especially skilled illustrator, whose collaboration resulted in a work of unique historical, scientific, and aesthetic importance.
Researchers are fortunate that Special Collections owns a German edition of Maximilian's narrative of the two-year expedition, Reise in das innere Nord-America in den jahren 1832 bis 1834 (Travels in the Interior of North America 1832 to 1834). This account was published in Paris by subscription from 1839-41 and was accompanied by a map of the travel route and by an atlas of eighty-one black and white etchings engraved by Bodmer. Today, there are fewer than twenty known editions of Maximilian's work in the United States.