Rainey Asiatic Expedition 1918-1919

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Exist Dates

1918 - 1919

Biographical or Historical Note

The Rainey Asiatic Expedition began in July of 1918 and lasted until the end of World War I in 1919. It traversed Siberia to the Ural Mountains by railway. Nominally sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History, the expedition was entirely funded by philanthropist, hunter, explorer and photographer Paul J. Rainey. Rainey acted as leader and requested Edmund Heller to join him as scientist and naturalist. (1)

According to the American Museum of Natural History Annual Report of 1918 the expedition, “under the auspices of the American Museum of Natural History, was organized with a plan of work in the Orient covering several years.” (2) It is interesting to note that in this report the expedition is referred to as the Third Asiatic Zoological Expedition, implying a connection to Roy Chapman Andrews’ First and Second Asiatic Zoological Expeditions. There appears to have been no relationship between these expeditions however, other than the inclusion of Edmund Heller on both this and the First Asiatic Expedition led by Andrews.

Rainey was a big-game hunter and wealthy philanthropist who had associated with and patronized many cultural institutions including the American Museum and the Smithsonian Institution. In 1911 he had mounted his African Expedition and acquired the services of the Smithsonian’s Edmund Heller as naturalist. Heller was a zoologist and seasoned explorer who would work with the Field Museum, the Smithsonian, the University of California, and the American Museum of Natural History.


    1. American Museum of Natural History, Fiftieth Annual Report The Year 1918 (New York: American Museum of Natural History), 77.
    2. ibid.


SiberiaExternal link
(Expedition Site)

They traveled by rail through Siberia.

Related Corporate, Personal, and Family Names

American Museum of Natural History
associated dates: 1918-1919

According to a 1918 Annual Report the expedition, although fully financed by Rainey, was launched "under the auspices" of the Museum.
Heller, Edmund
associated dates: 1918-1919

Heller acted as scientist for this Expedition. He was an experienced explorer, having previously accompanied Paul J. Rainey on Rainey's African Expedition, which resulted in many gifts to the Museum. Heller also acted as naturalist on Roy Chapman Andrews' First Asiatic Expedition in China for the American Museum of Natural History.
Rainey, Paul J.
associated dates: 1918-1919

Paul J. Rainey was an American Museum of Natural History patron as well as a wealthy hunting and photography enthusiast who privately funded and acted as leader for this expedition. He had previously worked with Edmund Heller during Rainey's African Expedition, which resulted in many gifts for the Museum.

Related Resources

Paul J. Rainey Papers, 1918-1931 (bulk 1918-1919)
associated dates: 1918-1931

Creator: Paul J. Rainey Extent: 0.25 linear feet Repository: Wichita State University Library Special Collections and University Archives, Call # MS 88-07 Note: Collection contains handwritten and typed reports of the expedition as well as photographs and an expense report.

Written by: Kendra Meyer
Last modified: 2016 November 10


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