Whitney South Sea Expedition

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**Participants:**
– Dr. Leonard C. Sanford initiated the expedition
– Harry Payne Whitney financed the expedition
– Rollo H. Beck led the expedition from 1920-1928
– Hannibal Hamlin led the expedition from 1928-1930
– Ernst Mayr joined the expedition in 1929-1930

**Collecting Efforts:**
– Over 40,000 bird specimens were collected
– Numerous plant specimens were gathered
– Extensive collection of anthropological items and photographs was amassed
– Bougainville Island yielded many specimens
– The expedition visited islands in Oceania, Micronesia, Polynesia, and Melanesia

**Administration and Funding:**
– The expedition was administered by a committee at the AMNH
– It attracted funds for research on the biota of Pacific islands
– The AMNH curated the Rothschild collection
– The expedition used the 75-ton schooner France
– Many scientists and collectors participated over more than a dozen years

**References:**
– American Museum of Natural History Research Library holds records of the expedition
– Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has information on the expedition
– Ernest H. Quayle’s contributions are documented
– Robert Cushman Murphy wrote about the expedition in Science
– NPR highlighted the bird mapping efforts on Bougainville Island

**Bibliography:**
– Frank M. Chapman’s work on the expedition was published in Science
– R.C. Murphy’s publication in Science discussed the expedition
– The Whitney South Sea Expedition spanned 1920-1941
– The expedition’s impact on scientific research is documented
– Various publications and archives provide insights into the expedition

The Whitney South Sea Expedition (1920 - 1941) to collect bird specimens for the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), under the initial leadership of Rollo Beck, was instigated by Dr Leonard C. Sanford and financed by Harry Payne Whitney, a thoroughbred horse-breeder and philanthropist.

Beck, an expert bird collector himself, hired Ernest H. Quayle and Charles Curtis to assist with collecting, including the botanical specimens collected by the expedition.

The expedition visited islands in the south Pacific region and eventually returned with over 40,000 bird specimens, many plant specimens and an extensive collection of anthropological items and photographs.

Using the 75-ton schooner France, with many different scientists and collectors participating over more than a dozen years, the expedition visited thousands of islands throughout Oceania, Micronesia, Polynesia and Melanesia. The expedition collected many specimens from Bougainville Island. It was administered by a committee at the AMNH and became a focus for attracting funds for research on the biota of the Pacific islands.

The expedition was led by Rollo H. Beck (1920-1928), Hannibal Hamlin (1928-1930), William F. Coultas (1930-1935), Lindsay Macmillan (1935-1940), and G. Reid Henry (1941).

Ernst Mayr joined the expedition when Hamlin replaced Beck as leader on one of the later stages of the expedition, to New Guinea and the Solomon Islands in 1929–1930. Mayr was hired by the AMNH to curate the Rothschild collection in 1933, and he continued to work up the material that returned to the AMNH from the Whitney expeditions. He continued at AMNH until 1953 as curator of birds.

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