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The Captain Marshall Field Brazilian expedition

Identifier: Film Collection no. 23

Scope and Contents

Filmed during the Captain Marshall Field Brazilian Expedition to Brazil, 1926. This film record of the Field Museum of Natural History's 1926 Brazilian expedition, financed and led by Captain Marshall Field, presents expedition life as stylish and romantic. To enhance the mood, colored film stock was used intermittently, especially blue-green for waterways. The perseverance of the scientists in the face of difficulties encountered while collecting in the field is minimized; instead, the scope of the journey and easy adventure are emphasized. The expedition staff included Captain Marshall Field's wife Evelyn, herpetologist Karl Schmidt, zoologist Colin Sanborn, and photographer George Cherrie. The film begins en route to Rio de Janeiro on board the S.S. American Legion, where the expedition staff prepares specimen labels. In Rio, the staff visits the zoo where cranes, ibis, other birds and agoutis roam freely, and where Schmidt handles a 20-foot boa constrictor. Departing from Rio, the expedition journeys 3,000 feet above sea level to Therezopolis (now Teresopolis), where field work begins. Animals seen in this section include: oven birds (in nest), thread-tailed tyrants, yellow crested woodpeckers, puff birds, grass snakes, prehensile-tailed procupines, and Brazilian opossums. Traveling back to Rio through Sao Paulo, the expedition party visits the Instituto Soroterapico "Butantan," a beautiful complex where snakes are housed in low domed structures made of white stucco in a garden surrounded by a stone wall. Rattlesnakes and fer-de-lance, as well as venom collecting, are seen. (Snake and other serums are distributed throughout South America from this institute.) Stopping periodically to collect specimens along the way, the expedition travels 500 miles by rail from Sao Paulo to the Paraguay River. The train is ferried across the river and continues on through the Mato Grosso 500 miles to Porto Esperanza and Corumba. Aboard the launch Ipyranga the expedition travels up the Paraguay River to Descalvado, a ranch as large as the state of New Jersey. Water hyacinths choke the waterways, making progress slow but allowing time to collect caymans and a capybara as Cherrie and Evelyn Field look on. Schmidt and Sanborn seine the river for fish. Upon their arrival at Descalvado, the party hunts from a curiari or dugout. Birds seen in this section are: tiger bitterns, macaws, great white egrets, small white egrets and creamy herons. The hunting party moves toward the Bolivian frontier in search of jaguars, swamp deer and other game. Evelyn Field bags a jaguar and poses with the skin. After capturing a young howler monkey, the hunting party returns to the ranch, and the expedition begins its journey homeward.


  • 1926


Language of Materials



1 Film Reel (22 minutes) : silent, black and white ; 35 mm.

1 Videocassette (U-Matic (22 minutes)) : silent, black and white ; 3/4 in.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

3/4 in., U-Matic, viewing copy


Original format: 35 mm. print; some tinted footage and subtitles.

The Captain Marshall Field Brazilian expedition, 1926
Captain Marshall Field Brazilian expedition, 1926
Iris Lee
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Museum Archives at the Gottesman Research Library Repository

American Museum of Natural History
200 Central Park West
New York NY 10024 USA
(212) 769-5420