WSSE was 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 (1). It was the largest ornithological expedition ever conceived. Active field research was conducted from 1920 to 1941.
Macmillan was brought on as leader of the Whitney South Sea Expedition in 1935 after there was a short hiatus in collecting. He would remain at his post for five years; his wife Joy joined him in New Caledonia and acted as assistant, collecting, skinning and preparing specimens. Macmillan had studied and worked in farming and spent most of his life between Australia and his native islands of the New Hebrides. (2) He became acquainted with and interested in bird skinning and collection from A. J. Marshall who would go on to become a well-known Australian ornithologist (2), and Tom Harrison, who would recommend Macmillan to the American Museum of Natural History (3). The Macmillans surveyed the groups of New Caledonia and the New Hebrides, as well as areas of Papua New Guinea and Queensland, Australia. They were assisted and guided from New York through frequent correspondence with Ernst Mayr at the Museum. In 1940 Macmillan left the expedition ito enter the Australian navy as a coast watcher and would later serve with Admiral Halsey (4). After World War II, the Macmillan family settled to Australia where they farmed for several years until 1951 when Macmillan was appointed to the technical staff managing the Presbyterian mission in West Kimberley, Australia. They remained in that post for a number of years (4). His health was tenuous due to having contracted tuberculosis during World War II and Macmillan died around 1973. He and Joy had two sons and two daughters (5). Dates of existence: 1900? - 1973?
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