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Archbold Expedition to New Guinea, 1st (1933-1934)



  • Existence: 1933 - 1934

Parallel Names

  • 1933-1934 Papuan Expedition (1933-1934)
  • New Guinea Expedition of the American Museum of Natural History (1933)



The Archbold Expedition to New Guinea of 1933 and 1934 would become just the first in a series of exploratory trips to that environs sponsored by Richard Archbold and benefitting the American Museum of Natural History. The primary participants of this expedition were Archbold, ornithologist Austin L. Rand and botanist Leonard J. Brass. Their goal was to collect and study the flora and fauna of the island of New Guinea and surrounding areas, and to climb Mt. Albert Edward.

1933 February 28
Archbold and Rand arrive; first trip begins
1933 March 2
Brass arrives in Port Moresby, they collect in Rona
1933 March 18
Return to Port Moresby
1933 March 30
Embarked for collecting work in Yule Island and Mt. Albert Edward area
1934 January 3
Second leg of trip begun, collecting done on environs of Daru and inland to Wuroi


Richard Archbold was an American mammalogist, photographer, environmentalist, mountaineer and Research Associate at the American Museum of Natural History. His grandfather had earned the family fortune as a president of Standard Oil. After participating as photographer and mammalogist representing AMNH for the Mission zoologique franco-anglo-américaine à Madagascar between 1929 and 1930, Richard Archbold had found his calling and desired to continue with expeditionary work. Encouraged by AMNH trustee, benefactor and bird enthusiast Dr. Leonard Sanford, he was introduced to ornithologist and museum curator Ernst Mayr, who was an expert on the region (1, p. 11). It was thus determined that New Guinea would be a suitable area for Archbold's efforts. Archbold meticulously planned his expeditions, both in terms of equipment, supplies and itinerary as well as staffing, finding the most ideal individuals for each position.

He had met and befriended Canadian ornithologist Austin Loomer Rand during the Madagascar expedition; it was also during that experience that Archbold recognized the need to have a trained botanist for successful and well-rounded field work. (1, 2000, p. 14) Leonard J. Brass was an Australian botanist associated with the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University, who had already traveled in New Guinea. (1, 2000, p. 89) The team also included the local resident C. J. Adamson, who acted as transport manager and supplied the expedition with mules. (2, 1935, p. 531), and for at least a short period they were joined by photographer R. V. Oldham. (3, n.d.) Lastly, over 30 native carriers and assistants were hired to join the venture.

The expedition began in February of 1933 and lasted until March of 1934. Archbold had quickly identified challenges of work in this area regarding transportation, availability of food and the need to carry supplies at all times (4, 1936). The initial leg of the journey went from Port Moresby to Yule Island, inland to the top of Mount Albert Edward and then back again. Additional forays were made to the area behind Port Moresby. The second leg of the trip was from Port Moresby to Daru and then inland to Wuroi. Approximately 4700 zoological specimens were collected for AMNH (850 mammalogy, 3200 ornithology, 530 herpetology, 130 ichthyology) (2, 1935, p. 543)and over 15,000 botanical specimens were culled and went to the New York Botanical Gardens to be classified and reported on by E. D. Merrill. (2, 1935, p. 544). The specimens at AMNH would be worked up by both Archbold and Rand as well as Museum curatorial staff members Raven, Mayr, Tate, Nichols, Nobel and Kauffield. The resulting collections added new species to the known body of New Guinea flora and fauna, broadened the understanding of the relationship between the biological life of South New Guinea and northern Australia, and also expanded the existing range of knowledge (5, 1934). Upon return, Archbold would begin planning the second expedition to New Guinea (1936-1937) in which he began to incorporate air travel to assist in transportation issues and allow the exploration of inner regions of the country.

(1) Roger A. Morse, Richard Archbold and the Archbold Biological Station. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2000.

(2)Richard Archbold and A.L. Rand, "Summary of the 1933-1934 Papuan Expedition," Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 68, Article 8, 1935.

(3)Archbold Expeditions. "Photographic Index," in AMNH Mammalogy Departmental Library and Archive.

(4) Richard Archbold, "An Ascent of Mt. Albert Edward," American Alpine Journal 2, Issue 4, 1936.

(5) American Museum of Natural History, "Scientific work in New Guinea," Natural History, 1934.

American Museum of Natural History Annual Reports.


  • New York (N.Y.) (Other) -- Date: 1933 - 1934
    • Note: The Expedition was organized and benefitted the American Museum of Natural History, located in New York City.
  • Papua New Guinea (Associated Country) -- Date: 1933 - 1934
    • Note: Expedition site; The expedition sought to collect and research flora and fauna of New Guinea.


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