The Whitney South Sea Expedition of the American Museum of Natural History
was an ornithological expedition originated by Dr. Leonard C. Sanford and funded
by Harry Payne Whitney. Their mission was to systematically explore the many
islands of Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia for previously undiscovered or
little-known bird specimens. At the time it was the most expansive
ornithological expedition ever conceived, and active field research would last
over two decades, from 1920 to 1941. During that span, five men acted as leader,
assisted by scores of participants. In addition to bird specimens, botanical and
anthropological specimens were also gathered. Participants additionally
photographed their regions of exploration, drew maps and kept detailed diaries
and notes on their voyages.
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