Party: Whitney South Sea Expedition


The Whitney Expedition of the American Museum of Natural History was begun in the summer of 1920, funded by Harry Payne Whitney and his family. Its original purpose was to study the birds of the Pacific Islands. Unlike any other expedition to the Pacific, this one visited thousands of islands, led by many different scientists and collectors over more than a dozen years. Administered by a committee at the Museum, the Expedition became a source of funds and equipment for collecting in and research on the Pacific Islands.

The first leader was Rollo H. Beck, a veteran collector and naturalist, who hired Ernst H. Qualye and Charles Curtis, and together they made most of the botanical collections for the expedition. They sailed on the sailing ship France, stopping at islands large and small. During 1929-1930 the expedition worked in the Solomon Islands. The main collection of botanical specimens was sent to the Bernice Bishop Museum, in Honolulu, Hawai'i. Field books and papers related to the expeditions are held by the Bishop Museum and the American Museum of Natural History in New York. (Eyerdam 1933; Mayr 1931, 1943)

Published resources

Journal Articles

  • Eyerdam, Walter J., 'Among the Mountain People of Malaita', Natural History, vol. 33, no. 2, 1933, pp. 430-438. Details
  • Mayr, Ernst, 'Birds Collected During the Whitney South Sea Expedition XVII: The Birds of Malaita Island (British Solomon Islands)', American Museum Novitates, vol. 504, no. 11 November, 1931. Details
  • Mayr, Ernst, 'A Journey to the Solomon Islands', Natural History, vol. 52, 1943, pp. 30-37. Details