My thanks to Renee Braden for permission to examine the relevant files and microfilm on the official American Mount Everest Expedition in the National Geographic Society's archives. Thanks to Cathy Hunter for her help in the same archives; she was a very kind, capable and knowledgeable archivist. Thanks to Dina Copelman whose letter to the NGS helped grease the wheels of bureaucracy. My thanks to the staff at the Princeton University Firestone Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts division for their help in accessing the James Ramsey Ullman Papers. Thanks also to the staffs at the Houghton Library and the Harvard University Archives at Harvard University. Finally thanks to the staff, and particularly to the graduate student employee, at the Tufts University Tisch Library Digital Archives Collection (in September 2008) for assistance with the news clippings files and other associated material on Woodrow Wilson Sayre.
American on Everest: Individualism, the American Intellectual Tradition, and the Dream of Woodrow Wilson Sayre†
Article first published online: 12 SEP 2013
© 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Journal of Historical Sociology
Volume 27, Issue 4, pages 541–578, December 2014
How to Cite
Sutch, C. (2014), American on Everest: Individualism, the American Intellectual Tradition, and the Dream of Woodrow Wilson Sayre. Journal of Historical Sociology, 27: 541–578. doi: 10.1111/johs.12039
- Issue published online: 2 DEC 2014
- Article first published online: 12 SEP 2013
This article identifies the American philosophical antecedents that informed Woodrow Wilson Sayre's failed attempt to climb Mount Everest in 1962. Sayre, a philosophy professor at Tufts University, was an extreme proponent of individualism and saw the challenge of climbing Everest as a struggle of one man against cold, “antiseptic” Nature. In his writings on the subject Sayre uses some of the same cultural notions about humanity and mountains that were current in American intellectual culture during the 19th century. The paper traces these notions from the Transcendentalists and American poetic descriptions of mountains through to Sayre's writings. The paper ends by describing the official response to Sayre's expedition as revealed in archival sources.