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Meet the Corps of Discovery

Lewis and Clark: The Journey West

Return to Meet the Corps of Discovery: The Members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition



Arts & Humanities
  • Language Arts
Educational Technology

Social Studies

  • History
    • U.S. History


  • 3-5
  • 6-8
  • 9-12

Brief Description

Students assume the persona of one of the members of Lewis and Clarks expedition team.


Students will
  • research a member of Lewis and Clarks expedition team.
  • write a first-person introduction of that team member.
  • share that introduction in a 2-3 minute presentation to classmates.


Lewis and Clark, expedition, Corps of Discovery, discover, expansion, Jefferson, Missouri, Louisiana Purchase

Materials Needed

  • Internet access (or
    printouts from Web resources listed below)
  • writing materials
  • video camera (optional)

Lesson Plan

In this activity, students learn about the kinds of people who accompanied Lewis and Clark on their incredible adventure. The 33 people -- a few more explorers would join the expedition as it progressed -- are referred to as the Corps of Discovery.

Students use print and online resources (or printouts from some of the Internet Research Resources provided below) to learn more about the explorers they are assigned to research. They then prepare a 2-3 minute presentation in which they introduce themselves as that person. Each students first-person presentation should begin "My name is ____, and I In the presentations, students briefly describe

  • themselves -- the explorer's age, home state, rank, and other facts;
  • why they were selected to be part of the expedition; and
  • specific information about their role in the expedition.

Students presentations help them get to know the people who comprised the Corps of Discovery and the kinds of skills each brought to the expedition. The presentations also lead to an assessment activity in which students write a paragraph or brief essay describing in general terms what Lewis and Clark were looking for as they put together the expedition team.

Students written first-person accounts might be collected and combined into a class book. Their class presentations might be videotaped and used as a teaching resource and/or as a display at your school's open house night.

Assigning the Corps Members
Some members of the Corps played a larger role in the expedition than did others, so you might want to assign some students more than one person to research and introduce. The list below is a recommendation of possible groupings for student assignments. Those groupings that include more than one person might be assigned to students with more highly honed research skills -- students who are more likely to dig beneath some of the surface sites that are provided to uncover interesting facts about less prominent Corps members. Students who are assigned more than one person will divide their presentation time among them.

Meriwether Lewis
William Clark
John Ordway
Nathaniel Pryor
Charles Floyd
Patrick Gass
William Bratton
John Collins and John Colter
Pierre Cruzatte
Joseph Field and Reuben Field
Robert Frazer and Silas Goodrich
George Gibson, Thomas P. Howard, Hugh Hall, and Francis Labiche
Hugh McNeal and John Shields
George Shannon and John Potts
Jean Baptiste LePage and John B. Thompson
William Werner, Richard Windsor, Peter Wiser (aka Weiser), and Alexander Willard
Joseph Whitehouse
Richard Warfington
John Newman
Pierre Dorion
George Drouillard
Toussaint Charbonneau
York (Clark's slave)
Sacajawea (Charbonneau's Shoshone wife)
Jean Baptiste Charbonneau (son of Toussaint and Sacajawea)
Seaman (Lewiss dog)

Internet Research Resources
Following are a few sites that might serve as initial resources for students. To locate additional information, students can use their favorite search engines [Search term: "Corps member's name" + "Lewis and Clark"].

  • Corps of Discovery
  • Lewis and Clark: Inside the Corps
  • Corps of Discovery Profiles
  • Lewis and Clark Journey of Discovery
  • Military Members of the Expedition's Permanent Party
  • Corps of Discovery: The People

    Additional Resources
    The following general resources might be used to gather additional information about some members of the Corps.

    General Histories

  • A Brief History of the Lewis and Clark Expedition
  • The Lewis and Clark Expedition: A Western Adventure, A National Epic
  • The Journey of the Corps of Discovery: A Timeline of the Trip
  • Lewis and Clarks Historic Trail: Timeline
  • The Ultimate Adventure: Retrace the Trail


  • The Journey of the Corps of Discovery: The Journals
  • Lewis and Clarks Historic Trail: Journals
  • The Journals of Lewis and Clark
  • The Ultimate Adventure: The Journals

    Other Resources

  • Lewis and Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery
  • Rivers, Edens, Empires: Lewis and Clark and the Revealing of America
  • Lewis and Clark Journey of Discovery
  • Re-Live the Adventure of Lewis and Clark with the Corps of Discovery


    Write a paragraph (older students might write a brief essay) summarizing the traits and skills that Lewis and Clark looked for in the men they hired to be part of the Corps of Discovery.

    Lesson Plan Source

    Education World

    Submitted By

    Gary Hopkins

    National Standards

    LANGUAGE ARTS: English

      GRADES K - 4
      NSS-USH.K-4.3 The History of the United States: Democratic Principles and Values and the People from Many Cultures Who Contributed to Its Cultural, Economic, and Political Heritage

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    Originally published 01/24/2003
    Links last updated 08/22/2008