Ivan Dementievitch Cherskii was born into a noble Lithuanian family on May 15,1845 in Drissen district, Vitebsk province, Russia. He was orphaned early on in his life. Having left school in 1860, Cherskii continued his education in the Noble Institute in Vilno. After his involvement in the Polish rebellion in 1863-1864, he was expelled from the Institute and exiled to Siberian city Omsk, where he served as a soldier. He became a batman in the officer's club and, with access to the library, spent much time reading and self-educating. After a while, he became a well-known researcher because of his natural gifts and endless patience. He explored East Siberia over a course of approximately 20 years. In 1877, Cherskii married a Siberian woman, Mavra Pavlovna Ivanova. In 1886, a book about his investigations of Lake Baikal was published. His son Aleksandr was born in 1879. The family moved to St Petersburg in 1885. Cherskii worked on the osteologi-cal collections of St Petersburg University, Military-Medical Academy and Geological Committee. As a result, in 1891 the monograph Opisanie Kollectsii Posletretichnjih Mlekopitajustchih... (Description of the Post Tertiary Mammals Set of Samples, Collected by New Siberian Expedition) was published by Academy of Science. A year later this book was published in German. In 1891, Cherskii left St Petersburg for the Koluma expedition. He died on July 7,1892 on the Omolon tract close to Koluma River in Yakutia (Sakha Republic).

Marina Belolutskaia

Further Reading

Aldan-Semenov, A.I., Cherskii [Cherskii], Moskva: Moldaia gvardia, 1962

Lomakin, V.V., Geomopfologicheslie idei Cherskogo [Geomorphologic Ideas of Cherskii], Priroda, No. 4, 1950

Obruchev, S.V., Otkryutie Khrebta Cherskogo [Discovery of Cherskii Range], Nauchnoe slovo [scientific word], No. 1, 1929

-, Istoria Geologicheskogo Issledovaniia Sibiri [History of Geological Exploration of Siberia], Moskva-Leningrad: Izd-vo Akademii Nauk SSSR, 1934-1937

Obruchev, V.A., Ivan Dementjevich Cherskii, Ljudi Russkoi Nauki [People of Russian Science], Volume 1, Moskva-Leningrad: Gos. Izd-vo Phiziko-math.literaturji, 1962, pp. 38-45

Revzin, G.I., Podvig Zhizni Ivana Cherskogo [Heroic Life of Ivan Cherskii], Moskva-Leningrad: Izd-vo Glavsevmorputi, 1952

Zarin, V.V., Puteshestvia Marii Pavlovny Cherskoi [Travel of M.P. Cherskii], 1952


Alexei Ilyich Chirikov was a Russian captain-commander, scientific seafarer, participant of the First Kamchatka expedition (1725-1730), and one of the organizers and leaders of the Second Kamchatka expedition (1733-1743).

The First Kamchatka expedition (1725-1730) was organized by Peter I to answer the question of a land connection between Asia and America. After an overland expedition to Kamchatka where Bering built his ships at the coast, in 1728 the ship St Gabriel (under the command of Vitus Bering with Chirikov as second in command) passed the Gulf of Anadyr and then, following the coast north, charted the Cresta gulf and Preobrazheniya bay. The ship then passed from the mouth of the Kamchatka river through a strait (now known as the Bering Strait) to the Arctic Ocean as far north as 67°18' N, where St Lawrence Island and, on the return route, Diomede island (in reality, two islands) were mapped. No land connection to North America was sighted. After returning to St Petersburg in 1730, Chirikov was ranked a captain-lieutenant, and in 1732 as a captain of the 3rd rank.

From 1733 to 1741, as second in command to captain-commander Bering, leader of the Second Kamchatka expedition, Chirikov worked in one of the expedition's groups that planned to reach the American coast, located east of Kamchatka. The Second Kamchatka expedition marked the beginning of research of the ice conditions of the Arctic Region. The northern branch of the expedition passed by sea or land along practically the entire Northern Sea Route from Arkhangel'sk up to Cape Bolshoy Baranov east of Kolyma. The eastern groups undertook navigation to the coast of Japan, to Kuril and Aleut islands, and to the coast of North America. After leaving Petropavlovsk in Avacha bay in June 1741 by parallel routes, the two packetships Bering's St Peter and Chirikov's St Paul became separated because of constant fog. Continuing the way, Chirikov, on the night of July 15-16 at 55°36' N, became the first Russian to see the American coast: the Alexander archipelago on Alaska's southeast coast was accepted by Chirikov as a continent. St Paul followed the American coast north for about 450 km, charting islands and the area of mountains of St Ilya or St Elias. After losing part of the crew and both the ship's boats that were sent ashore to find fresh water, he turned back toward Kamchatka at 58°21' N for resup-plying. By August 1-3, they were the first Russians to see the Kenai peninsula and Afognak and Kodiak islands, and by September 5 they reached Umnak island (from the group of Aleutian islands). On September 9, 1741, they mapped Hells island, where for the first time he met with Aleuts. On September 22, he mapped the Agattu and Attu islands (in the Near Aleut island group). By this time, supplies of food and fresh water were dangerously low, many crew were dead or ill, and Chirikov himself was dangerously ill, giving command of the ship to Ivan Elagin. On October 10, 1741, St Paul returned to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, which had been the base of the Second Kamchatka expedition since 1740.

The official report of Chirikov to the Admiralty Collegium on December 7, 1741, presenting the results of his navigation, was the first ever Russian description of the northwest coast of America and of the Aleutian islands. Following Bering and Chirikov, Russian industrialists in the east opened the way to unknown islands in the northern part of the Pacific Ocean and the coast of the American continent, forming the basis for an extensive network of Russian trading stations, settlements, and advanced posts in Alaska, and Russia's claim on the northwest coast of North America.

In June 1742, Bering had still not returned and Chirikov again sailed to the east, this time only reaching Attu island, named by Chirikov as St Fyodor (Theodor) island. The basic purpose of this second journey was to confirm the nature of the lands seen during the previous journey, which he had initially wrongly believed to be parts of a connected continent. On the return route he secondarily surveyed Bering and Copper islands on July 22-23, accepting them as one large island named in honor of St Iyulian. On July 1, he returned to Avacha bay at Petropavlovsk-

Kamchatsky, and the end of the Second Kamchatka expedition was marked by the return of the St Peter two months later. On August 16, 1742, Chirikov set out to return to Yakutsk via Okhotsk, and in 1744-1745 he traveled to Yeniseysk.

Chirikov played an important role in the generalization of materials collected by Russian sailors and explorers. On May 10, 1746 under his management, the officers of the Second Kamchatka expedition, Dmitriy Ovzyn, Sofron Khitorvo, Ivan Elagin, Stepan Malygin, Dmitriy, and Khariton Laptev, completed the drawing up of "Maps of general Russian empire, northern and east coast, next to Arctic and East Siberian oceans with a part having been found through sea navigation of western American coast and islands of Yapon." Chirikov, together with Elagin, also presented to the Admiralty Board a further map, where the mappings performed by the First and Second Kamchatka (or Great Northern) expeditions of the Pacific ocean, including the east coast of Far East, Aleut and Commander islands, Kuril ridge, part of Hokkaido island, and the coast of Northwest of America, were reflected. These charts and maps, produced by educated Navy officers on the basis of careful surveys, were a great improvement over existing maps, and charted almost Russia's entire Arctic coastline.

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