Discovering Algot Lange
This is a picture of Algot Lange. Do you know who he is? I had not heard about him until last week when a patron approached the General Research Division reference desk asking about him. Mr. Lange was a Swedish explorer who wrote two books about his adventures in the Amazon during the early twentieth century. He’s an interesting fellow and a reminder that not all of history has been told: there is not a single entry for Algot Lange in any of our biographical databases nor is he the subject of any book. I decided that was reason enough to trace his story by means of historical documents.
Through a database called Ancestry Library Edition, I was able to find passenger lists recording Algot’s return trips to New York, passport applications (see below), and a WWI draft registration card (also below). I discovered that he was born in 1844 in Sweden but migrated to New York in 1904 and became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1915. His naturalization papers are on file in the National Archive Records Administration. There are also 22 newspaper articles in the New York Times advertising his books and lectures as well documenting his trips to the Amazon. If anyone’s interested in writing about him, I have plenty of sources to direct you to.