Arvid Adolf Etholén

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Arvid Adolf Etholén by J. E. Lindh, 1839

Arvid Adolf Etholén, or Adolf Karlovich Etolin (Russian: Адольф Карлович Этолин) (January 9, 1799 Helsinki - March 29, 1876 Elimäki) was a naval officer, explorer and administrator in the Russian Empire who was employed by the Russian-American Company. He was a Swedish-speaking Finn who was born in Helsinki, Finland. Etholén first reached Sitka (then Novoarkhangelsk) in Russian America in the service of the Russian-American Company in 1818, rising to Chief Manager of the Company 1840-1845 (Chief Manager was a position sometimes referred to, though incorrectly, as Governor).


Etolin traveled from Russia to America with Vasily Golovnin on the Kamchatka in 1817, and he is mentioned in Kiril Timofeevich Khlĕbnikov's Baranov, Chief Manager of the Russian Colonies in America (1835), with the following comment on Baranov’s part: “If only the Main Office could have sent me men like yourselves earlier, then I would very likely have had more success, and I would have found it pleasant to pass the time in their company!”.[1]

Etolin served from 1818 to 1825 as a ship master. He was part of a group that surveyed the Bering Sea in 1822 to 1824. He was the adjutant for the Chief Manager ("Governor") of Russian America in 1834, and became Chief Manager himself from 1840 to 1845. He was a member of the board of the Russian-American Company in Saint Petersburg, Russia from 1847 to 1859. Etolin died at his estate in Elimäki, Finland.


The name Etolin, based on the Russian version of Etholén's name, can be found in several places on the map of Alaska. Etolin Island was named after Etolin by the United States in the wake of the Alaska Purchase of 1867 (it was formerly the Duke of York's Island). There is also Etolin Strait, as well as a cape, a point and a mountain.[2]

The Etholén collection (Etholén Alaskassa) in the National Museum of Finland contains a number of Alaskan ethnographic items.[3]


  1. ^ Zhizneopisanie Aleksandra Andreevicha Baranova, Glavnago Pravitelia Rossiĭskih Koloniĭ v Amerikĕ, Kiril Timofeevich Khlĕbnikov: v Morskoĭ Tipografii, Sanktpeterburg, 1835. (English: Baranov, Chief Manager of the Russian Colonies in America, translated by Colin Bearne, edited by Richard Pierce, the Limestone Press, Kingston, Ontario, 1973).
  2. ^ The Finns in America (by Taru Spiegel, Reference Librarian. The Library of Congress [1]
  3. ^ The Etholén collection : the ethnographic Alaskan collection of Adolf Etholén and his contemporaries in the National Museum of Finland (by Pirjo Varjola Helsinki: National Board of Antiquities, 1990)

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Ivan Antonovich Kupreianov
Governor of Russian Alaska
Succeeded by
Mikhail Tebenkov