Harriet Chalmers Adams
Harriet Chalmers Adams
(October 22 1875
– July 17 1937
) was an American
explorer, writer and photographer. She travelled extensively in South America, Asia and
the South Pacific in the early 20th century,
and published accounts of her journeys in the National
She lectured frequently on
her travels and illustrated her talks with color slides and movies.
Botafogo bay and Copacabana, 1919, by
In 1904, Adams undertook her first major expedition, a three-year
trip around South America with her husband, Franklin Adams, during
which they visited every country, and traversed the Andes
on horseback. The New
wrote that she "reached twenty frontiers previously
unknown to white women."
In a later
trip she retraced the trail of Christopher Columbus' early discoveries
in the Americas, and crossed Haiti on
Adams served as a correspondent for Harper's Magazine
during World War I
and her husband visited eastern Bolivia during a
second extended trip to South America.
From 1907 to 1935, she wrote twenty-one articles for the National
Geographic Society that featured her photographs, including "Some
Wonderful Sights in the Andean Highlands" (September, 1908),
"Kaleidoscopic La Paz: City of the Clouds" (February, 1909) and
"River-Encircled Paraguay" (April 1933). She wrote on Trinidad, Surinam, Bolivia, Peru and the
trans-Andean railroad between Buenos Aires and Valparaiso.
In Adams' day, the National Geographical Society did not allow
women as full members, so in 1925, Adams helped launch the Society of Woman Geographers
and served as its first president until 1933.
In all, Adams is said to have travelled more than a hundred
thousand miles, and captivated hundreds of audiences. The New York
Times wrote "Harriet Chalmers Adams is America's greatest woman
explorer. As a lecturer no one, man or woman, has a more magnetic
hold over an audience than she."
in Nice, France, in 1937, at
An obituary in the Washington Post
called her a "confidant of
savage head hunters" who never stopped wandering the remote corners
of the world.
Of women as adventurers, she wrote
- I've wondered why men have so absolutely monopolized the
field of exploration. Why did women never go to the
Arctic, try for one pole or the other, or invade Africa,Thibet, or
unknown wildernesses? I’ve never found my sex a
hinderment; never faced a difficulty which a woman, as well as a
man, could not surmount; never felt a fear of danger; never lacked
courage to protect myself. I’ve been in tight places and
have seen harrowing things.
Anema, Durlynn. Harriet Chalmers Adams: Adventurer and
. Aurora, Colorado: National Writers Press,
((That is what Harriot Chalmers Adams did when she was still