Coultas, William F.

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Exist Dates

1900 - 1987 December 16

Biographical or Historical Note

WILLIAM F. COULTAS acted as leader of the Whitney South Sea Expedition from April 1925 to October 1935. The Whitney South Sea Expedition was an ornithological expedition originated by Dr. Leonard C. Sanford and funded by Harry Payne Whitney, with the mission of systematically exploring Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia for previously undiscovered or little-known bird specimens. It was the largest ornithological expedition ever conceived. Active field research was conducted from 1920 to 1941.

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.

After returning to New York, Coultas did clerical work for AMNH from April to October 1935. Coultas participated in the Templeton Crocker Expedition; in July 1936 and February 1937 he traveled to the Samoan, Hawaiian Islands and Cook group. From November 1937 to April 1938, Coultas was a member of the Phelps Venezuela Expedition to Mount Auyantepui. In 1942 Coultas joined the U.S. Naval Reserve Force.


    "William Coultas to John T. Zimmer, January 6, 1942." Coultas, William vertical file. AMNH Department of Ornithology Archives.
    Coultas, William. “Letters and Journal I – Solomon Islands. 1929 May-1930 November”. Whitney Expedition, bound book V. Department of Ornithology, AMNH.



Related Corporate, Personal, and Family Names

American Museum of Natural History.
American Museum of Natural History. Department of Ornithology.
1925-1938 (not verfied, possibly earlier or later expeditions)
Whitney South Sea Expedition of the American Museum of Natural History (1920-1941)

Written by: Cara Shatzman
Last modified: 2016 November 7


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