Beck, Ida May Menzies, 1883-1970

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Exist Dates

1883 February 5 - 1970 April 22

Biographical or Historical Note

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IDA MAY MENZIES BECK was born on February 5, 1883 in Dundalk, Ontario, Canada to Mary Coutts Menzies and Archibald Menzies. She had several brothers and sisters.

IDA MAY MENZIES BECK was born on February 5, 1883 in Dundalk, Ontario, Canada to Mary Coutts Menzies and Archibald Menzies. She had several brothers and sisters. Ida accompanied her husband, Rollo Beck, on many ornithological expeditions, including the AMNH affiliated Brewster-Sanford (1912-1917) and the Whitney South Sea (1920-1928) expeditions. When the Becks set sail for the Brewster-Sanford Expedition, Ida is recorded as intending to collect samples of butterflies and beetles for the California Academy of Science, San Francisco. Ida most often acted not only as companion to Rollo but also as field assistant on scientific voyages.

Ida May Menzies married Rollo Beck on August 11, 1909. Since 1907, Ida had accompanied Beck on brief collecting expeditions, often acting as his assistant. The Becks traveled together for the entirety of the Brewster-Sanford and Whitney South Sea expeditions. The Becks did not have any children.

In 1920 Rollo Beck led the AMNH Whitney South Sea Expedition, an ornithological expedition originated by Dr. Leonard C. Sanford and funded by Harry Payne Whitney, with the mission of systematically exploring Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia for previously undiscovered or little-known bird specimens. It was the largest ornithological expedition ever conceived. Active field research was conducted from 1920 to 1941. Beck led the project until 1928.

When the Becks retired from the Whitney South Sea Expedition in 1928, Dr. Leonard C. Sanford requested they work on an unrelated project in New Guinea. The Becks collected ornithological specimens for nine months before their return to New York. The Becks retired to California in 1930 where they worked on their fruit farm in Planada. After Rollo’s death in 1950, Ida relocated to San Jose to live with family. Ida Beck died on April 22, 1970 in San Jose, CA at the age of 89.

Sources

    “Two California Methodists Who Will Visit South America In Scientific Research.” California Christian Advocate (San Francisco, CA), 1912.
    Ida Beck Timeline. Beck, Rollo vertical file. AMNH Research Library.
    Murphy, Robert Cushman. Oceanic Birds of South America. New York: American Museum of Natural History, c1936.
    Rexer, Lyle and Rachel Klein. American Museum of Natural History: 125 Years of Expedition and Discovery. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers in association with the American Museum of Natural History, 1995.

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Written by: Cara Shatzman
Last modified: 2016 November 8


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