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Archbold Expedition to New Guinea (6th : 1959)



  • Existence: 1959 - 1960



The Sixth Archbold Expedition to New Guinea began in March 1959 and ended in January 1960 “to study the geographical and ecological relationships of the animal and plant life of the New Guinea and Australian area as a whole” (4, p. 1). Leonard J. Brass, Hobart M. Van Deusen and John Collins traveled throughout the Morobe and Eastern Highland Provinces of Eastern New Guinea, focusing on higher altitudes in the region surrounding Mt. Wilhelm. The Sixth Archbold Expedition was funded by Richard Archbold, supplemented with grants from the National Science Foundation and the Explorers Club of New York (4, p. 1).

1959 March 16
Brass and Van Deusen arrive in Sydney, Australia.
1959 March 18
Brass meets with botanist Selwyn Everest at the Queensland Herbarium and visits Queensland Museum.
1959 March 1924
Brass and Van Deusen travel to Brisbane and Port Moresby to find supplies, meet with Australian museum representatives, and do some ecological surveys in Northern Australia.
1959 March 25
Brass and Van Deusen arrive in Lae, meet John Collins.
1959 March
Expedition team begins collecting around Lae, seeking more inland camp sites along the Markham and Bunga Rivers, leading up to the Rawlinson Range.
1959 March 31-April 2
Team takes plane over Eastern highlands looking for camp sites along the Saruwaged Range, stopping at Arona, Aiyura, Kainantu, Goroka and Chimbu from where they would continue by car moving upland into higher elevations.
1959 April 2
Team returns to Lae via the Western Highlands including Goroka, Upper Ramu Valley and Mt. Hagen.
1959 April 10
Team moves inland to Oomsis Camp, 22 miles inland from Lae. Mammal, amphibian and botanical collection begins immediately.
1959 April-May
Brass and Van Deusen continue to collect around the Oomsis Camp while building a temporary camp at Gurakor at Meari Creek. Team continues to collect, plan for inland trip up Mt. Wilhelm, and prepare specimens for transport to Lae.
1959 May 14-21
Team builds temporary camp along the lower slopes of Mt. Kaindi. Collects botanical and mammal specimens and continues planning for Mt. Wilhelm trip with the assistance of local Forest Officers. Van Deusen and Collins scale Mt. Kaindi while Brass continues specimen collection and anthropological studies of natives around nearby Edie Creek.
1959 May 22
Brass continues collection around the top of Mt. Kaindi.
1959 May 29
Team returns to Lae, where they prepare to move back to Goroka Camp, which will serve as the primary inland bush camp as the team moves up along Mt. Wilhelm.
1959 June 1-6
Expedition team leaves Lae and begins to head inland, crossing the Leron and Markham Rivers and Umi Tributary, stopping at Dabu and Maratumi villages. Brass and Van Deusen both collect in the area over several days.
1959 June 6
Team heads inland, landing at Keglsugl Airstrip and moving inland towards Mt. Wilhelm.
1959 June
Expedition continues inland and upland, making a temporary camp at Piunde-Aunde at 11,600 ft. Team continues specimen collection and searches area.
1959 June 19
Brass and Collins climb Mt. Wilhelm. Members of the team climb to the summit several times throughout June, with specimen collection at higher elevations.
1959 June 28
Team moves down to 8,000 ft. elevation and establishes the Pengagl Creek Camp along the side of Mt. Wilhelm.
1959 June-July
Expedition collection around the Pengagl Creek Camp continues, team collects high volumes of mammalian and botanical specimens.
1959 August 1
Team returns to Goroka with specimens from inland camps, where plans for a new inland trip to Kotuni and the southern slopes of Mt. Otto are planned.
1959 August 5
Team arrives on Mt. Otto, continues surveying and specimen collection.
1959 August 21
Team leaves Kotuni and heads to Lufa and Gono, from where they will head inland to Mt. Michael. Brass has luck with botanical and insect collection, while Van Deusen struggles to find mammals to collect in the area, till team moves into Kimi Creek.
1959 September 2
John Womersley joins expedition for a week, team continues to collect around Kimi Creek.
1959 September 17
Team leaves Kimi Creek and Kotuni and heads to Kainantu, Okapa and Purosa, where they make a temporary camp at 6,550 ft. Team begins collecting at these lower altitudes, specifically searching for lowland caves for bat collection.
1959 September-October
Brass, Van Deusen and Collins continue to move through various lowland camps including those at Purosa, Kainantu, Auru and Kassam where specimen collection continues with special focus paid to sites along the Markham River.
1959 November
Expedition team stays at Water Rice Camp, a temporary site along the Umi River to continue mammal and botanical collection, eventually setting up the Umi Camp. The group continues along the Umi River, interacting with natives and taking extensive botanical notes.
1959 November 30
Team prepares to return to Lae and end expedition, sending treated specimens ahead and making plans to return to Australia before heading back to New York.
1959 December
Brass and Van Deusen prepare specimens for transport in Lae.
1959 December 17
Expedition returns to Port Moresby, then visits Cairns and Kuranda.
Brass returns to Brisbane while Van Deusen spends a week in Queensland. The two scientists spend some time in Australia visiting various natural history museums and experts.
1960 January 23
Expedition team leaves Australia and begins journey home to United States.

Biographical Note

Although the team was small, both Brass and Van Deusen had been on several previous expeditions, and John Collins had worked as a coffee planter in the region for years. This expertise allowed the expedition to become “a compact unit with one truck and one trailer” (1, p. 14). The trip focused on “altitudinal zonation, which is well exemplified in New Guinea” (4, p. 2), and on“the distribution, life histories, and evolution of the area’s mammals” (4, p. 2). Van Deusen, an Assistant Curator in AMNH’s Department of Mammals, brought specimens back to add to the Archbold Collection at AMNH. Brass, who led the botanical collection, sent specimens to the United States National Herbarium in Washington D.C. (3, p. 3). The remainder of the specimens were added to AMNH’s departmental specimen collections. The Expedition team landed in Lae, New Guinea on March 25, 1958, where they collected specimens and scouted possible inland camps until April (7, p. 8). The first inland camp was Oomsis Camp, 22 miles inland from Lae, where mammal, amphibian and botanical collection began immediately. Two other temporary camps in the hinterland around Lae were established throughout April and May 1958, while the team began preparations for their next inland foray to the region around Mt. Wilhelm (2, p. 20). By June 1958 the team had moved into the Eastern Highlands, slowly climbing up Mt. Wilhelm and establishing temporary camps along the Markham River (7, p. 61-67). These high elevations, such as the Piunde-Aunde Camp at 11,600 ft. were especially fruitful for Van Deusen, adding several new “tiny rodents in the water rat sub-family” to AMNH’s mammal collections (3, p. 3). From the Piunde-Aunde Camp the team reached Mt. Wilhelm’s summit several times for amphibian and botanical collection (3, p. 2-3). By August 1958 the team left Mt. Wilhelm and moved back towards the coast where two additional camps were established in the Markham Valley (2, p. 20). The expedition team stopped at several native towns including Purosa, Kainantu, Auru and Kassam throughout September and October (7, p. 120-146). Along the return trip “Van Deusen obtained eight representatives of a species of Hyla that is readily distinguished from any previously reported from the Papuan zoogeographical region” (6, p. 1). Brass collected rhododendron seeds native only to New Guinea including, “twenty-six new species with blossoms seven inches across” (3, p. 1). The Expedition team returned to Lae on November 30th, 1958, where they prepared their specimens for transport. By the end of the 6th Expedition, Brass and Van Deusen had collected, “2,295 mammals, 50 birds, 4,105 amphibians and reptiles, some 1,500 ectoparasites of mammals, an estimated 50,000 insects and spiders and 18,271 plant specimens” (3, p. 3). The Expedition filled big gaps in AMNH’s mammal collections and found several new species (6, p. 1; 2, p. 20). Of the mammals collected, the specimens could be split into roughly 100 species “evenly divided between marsupials, rodents and bats…Their bats included the green, tube-nosed bat that is one of the rarest in the world. There were only five known specimens in the world and they got five more” (3, p. 2-3). By January 1959, the entire Expedition team, along with over 70,000 specimens, returned to the United States (3, p. 1).

SOURCES (1) White, Alexander M. 1958-1959. Annual report, 1958. New York: American Museum of Natural History.

(2) White, Alexander M. 1959-1960. Annual report, 1959. New York: American Museum of Natural History.

(3) O'Reilly, John. 1960. Museum Memo: Treasures from New Guinea. New York: American Museum of Natural History.

(4) Norton, Ruth. Sixth Archbold Expedition Leaves for New Guinea, Press Release. 1959. New York: American Museum of Natural History.

(5) Forester, Paul I. 1997. Len Brass and His Contribution to Palm Discoveries in New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Principes: Journal of the International Palm Society. Vol, 41. no. 3.

(6) Tyler, Michael J. 1964. Results of the Archbold Expeditions. No. 85 A New Hylid Frog from the Eastern Highlands of New Guinea. New York: American Museum of Natural History.

(7) Brass, L. J. 1959-1960. Journal, L.J. Brass : 6th Archbold Expedition to New Guinea March 14 1959 to January 24, 1960. New York: American Museum of Natural History.


  • Australia (Associated Country) -- Date: 1959 - 1960
    • Note: Expedition site
  • Lae (Other) -- Date: 1959    
    • Note: Expedition site
  • Morobe (Other) -- Date: 1959    
    • Note: Expedition site
  • Markham (Other) -- Date: 1959    
    • Note: Expedition site
  • Wilhelm, Mount (Other) -- Date: 1959    
    • Note: Expedition site
  • Eastern Highlands (Other) -- Date: 1959    
    • Note: Expedition site
  • Goroka (Other) -- Date: 1959    
    • Note: Expedition site


Found in 1 Collection or Record:

The Archbold Collections at the American Museum of Natural History, 1928-1980.

Identifier: Archive Mammalogy Archbold
Scope and Contents The Archbold Collections at the American Museum of Natural History is comprised of material that documents the expeditionary fieldwork of Richard Archbold and the Archbold Expeditions. It is housed within the AMNH Department of Mammalogy Archive, and encompasses a variety of formats, including photographs, slides, film, scrapbooks, correspondence, financial records, and field documentation such as catalogs, specimen lists, field notes and journals. These describe both the day-to-day...
Dates: 1928 - 1980; Majority of material found within 1930 - 1964