Whitney South Sea Expedition of the American Museum of Natural History Collection
Language of Material
Conditions Governing Access
32 Volumes (4.5 linear feet) : illustrations ; 27 cm
9.5 Linear Feet (20 boxes)
Bryan, E. H. (Edwin Horace), 1898-1985. Bryan was an American naturalist who was affiliated with the Bishop Museum for most of his life. The Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, located in Honolulu, Hawaii, has a central focus on the Hawaiian and surrounding Pacific Island cultures. AMNH had agreed not to collect any bird specimens from Hawaii during the WSSE expedition, and instead exchanged specimens with the Bishop Museum. Bryan joined WSSE in 1924 for 10 months as a representative of the Bishop. He was informed to not focus on collecting birds but rather on plant, insect and anthropological specimens. Bryan kept meticulous diaries while visiting over fifty islands with WSSE. His journals are housed in the Bishop Museum archives.
Chapman, Frank M. (Frank Michler), 1864-1945. Chapman, an ornithologist, was Curator of Birds at AMNH for part of WSSE. He corresponded with and acted as a coordinator to the field researchers of WSSE.
Correia, José G., 1881-1954. Correia was a bird collector for numerous AMNH expeditions. On his trip to with WSSE, Correia acted as team leader for six months in 1923 while the established leader, Rollo Beck, met with the AMNH counsel in New York. Correia and his wife, Virginia, traveled with WSSE for four years, working through the Samoan, Fijian and Tongan Archipelagos.
Coultas, William F. Coultas acted as leader of the Whitney South Sea Expedition from April 1925 to October 1935. Coultas traveled to the Solomon Islands, Carolines, Mariannes, Guam and the Bismark Archipelago while with WSSE. Coultas and his friend Walter Eyerdam initially approached Robert Cushman Murphy, curator of birds at AMNH, about funding for an expedition to East Siberia. Murphy instead suggested WSSE with both men in the roles of collectors. Although their duties were the same, Coultas was appointed leader.
Hamlin, Hannibal, 1904-1982. Hannibal Hamlin was an American neurosurgeon who traveled with the Whitney South Sea Expedition beginning in 1927. After original leader Rollo Beck retired, Hamlin was appointed leader of the expedition from March 1928 until January 1930. He left the project in August 1930.
Henry, G. Reid. G. Reid Henry was the final leader of WSSE. After WSSE was placed on a brief hiatus due to World War II, Henry continued field research for less than a year in 1941 until the expedition was officially closed.
Macmillan, Lindsay. Macmillan led the Whitney South Sea Expedition from 1935 to 1940. Macmillan’s wife, Joy, accompanied him on the expedition, acting as an assistant. Lindsay was trained by A.J. Campbell, a well-known Australian ornithologist. Before joining WSSE, Macmillan was already well-versed in skinning and collection bird specimens. He left WSSE to join the Australian military during World War II.
Mayr, Ernst, 1904-2005. Mayr was a world renowned evolutionary biologist, naturalist and ornithologist, often cited as “the Darwin of the 20th century.” Mayr worked on the WSSE from 1929-1930 as a collector and field researcher. While on the expedition Mayr collected more than 3,000 bird specimens. Mayr cited his time in the South Pacific as deeply influential to his interest and pursuit of evolutionary study. After returning from WSSE, Mayr worked as a research associate at AMNH in 1931. From 1932 to 1944 Mayr was an associate curator in the AMNH ornithology department. Part of his duties were to manage WSSE from New York. Mayr was the curator of the Rothschild Collection of Birds from 1944 to 1953. In 1942 Mayr published his landmark book on evolutionary biology, Systematics and the Origin of Species.
Murphy, Robert Cushman, 1887-1973. Robert Cushman Murphy was the one of the leading ornithologists of the twentieth century. He served as curator of birds at AMNH from 1926-1942 and later chair of the department from 1942-1949. From 1949-1955 Murphy was Lamont curator of birds at AMNH. He published hundreds of books and articles throughout his career. Of note is Oceanic Birds of South America, published in 1936. Murphy was the museum coordinator for WSSE participants in the field.
Sanford, Leonard Cutler, 1869-1950. Sanford was a surgeon by trade but spent much of his time as a patron of ornithology. Sanford initiated the Brewster-Sanford Expedition to South America (sponsored by Frederick F. Brewster). The ornithological expedition was conducted from 1912-1917 and was led by Rollo Beck. Sanford was a trustee of AMNH from 1921-1950. He was responsible for involving Harry Payne Whitney with AMNH and convincing him to fund the ornithological expedition that became WSSE.
Whitney, Harry Payne, 1872-1930. Whitney was the sponsor of the Whitney South Sea Expedition. The idea was proposed to him by friend Leonard C. Sanford. Upon Whitney’s death in 1930, his widow Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney continued funding the expedition through the Whitney Fund. The Whitney family and the city of New York funded the construction of the AMNH Whitney Wing, which opened in 1935. The building was dedicated to the museum’s ornithology department.
- Whitney South Sea Expedition of the American Museum of Natural History (1920-1941) (Organization)
- American Museum of Natural History (Organization)
- Beck, Rollo Howard, 1870-1950 (Person)
- Correia, José G., 1881-1954 (Person)
- Coultas, William F. (Person)
- Curtis, Charles Cutler (Person)
- Bryan, E. H. (Edwin Horace), 1898-1985 (Person)
- Drowne, Frederick P. (Person)
- Eyerdam, Walter J. (Walter Jakob), 1892-1974 (Person)
- Hamlin, Hannibal, 1904-1982 (Person)
- Mayr, Ernst, 1904-2005 (Person)
- Quayle, Ernest H., 1891-1956 (Person)
- Macmillan, Lindsay (Person)
- Richards, Guy, 1905- (Person)
- Richmond, Charles Wallace, 1868-1932 (Person)
- Whitney South Sea Expedition of the American Museum of Natural History Collection, 1920-2007
- Cara Shatzman
- August 2013
- Description rules
- Language of description
- The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation provided support to make this finding aid available in ArchivesSpace (2016-2017).
- October, 2015: revised by Kendra Meyer
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