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The Templeton Crocker Expedition

Identifier: Film Collection no. 161

Scope and Contents

Filmed during the Templeton Crocker Expedition to the Solomon Islands, 1933. The objective of the Templeton Crocker Expedition, led by Crocker, was to conduct a preliminary medical, ethnological and natural history survey of the Solomon Islands. This film consists predominantly of ethnographic footage depicting the native clothing, trade, rituals and everyday activities on the various islands. The expedition traveled from island to island in Crocker's ship, the Zaca. The following islands are included in this film: Bellona, Malaita, Rinnell, Sikaiana, Tucopia and Uki in the Solomon Islands; and Pukapuka, one of the Northern Cook Islands. Maps of these localities are presented throughout the film. The highlights of the footage, in chronological order, are summarized below. On Pukapuka Island dancing and wrestling by natives in Western attire is filmed. The expedition next arrives in the Solomon Islands, whereupon Tucopia Island is visited. Here the Zaca is escorted into the bay by natives in catamarans. Their hair have been bleached with lime, and their skins are adorned with tattoos. The craft of backstrap loomweaving is filmed on Sikaiana Island. After the Zaca has reached Malaita Island, small children in a tiny canoe are filmed approaching the ship. In Auki, the chief village of Malaita, the process of making shell money is featured: the red spondylus shell is first chipped, polished on sandstone, then drilled. In the Lai Lagoon inhabitants are gathered by native policemen for medical examinations which are explained to some bushmen by Gordon White of the British Solomon Islands Health Department. The next two locations visited, Rinnell and Bellona Islands, prove particularly rich in ethnographic material. During their stay here the scientists trade balloons and small boxes for artifacts. The coconut and taro ceremonies, which may be harvest-related, are caught on film, as are praying, dancing, and the playing of a semicircular drum. The customary attachment of large fans at the back of the loincloths and tattoos are photographed. Footage of natives using an iron adze in the construction of a pole and thatch dwelling for their chief appears next. Uki Island, where more trade, dance and music is filmed, is visited next. On Uki men dance to songs sung by an accompanying crowd. Native women are brought aboard the Zaca for medical exams. Finally, in Santa Cruz Island's Graciosa Bay, the croton leaf dance is featured. The clothing shown throughout this film is made from a variety of materials, and includes ceremonial as well as everyday garments. Some of the featured garments are loincloths, headdresses, and fiber skirts. Most of the materials used in making these garments are pandanus leaves, palm fronds, fibers, shells, and palmetto. The dwellings in this film are variations of pole and thatch construction, and the canoes used are outriggers. The members of the expedition include: Toshio Asaeda (artist and photographer); John Hynes (ship's surgeon); Sylvester M. Lambert, of the Western Pacific Health Service; Gordon MacGregor (ethnologist from the Bernice P. Bishop Museum); Malachai (native medical practitioner from Suva, Fiji); Norton Stewart (naturalist, from Santa Barbara, California); Gordon White, of the British Solomon Islands Health Department; Maurice Willows (entomological collector).


  • 1933


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Not available through interlibrary loan. Contact AMNH Library Special Collections for terms of access.


1 Film Reel (110 minutes) : silent, black and white ; 16 mm.

1 Videocassette (U-Matic (110 minutes)) : silent, black and white ; 3/4 in.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

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


Original format: 16 mm. print.


English subtitles.



Toshio Asaeda, photographer.


The Templeton Crocker Expedition, 1933
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