New Digital Collection: Rollo Beck's Expedition to Papua New Guinea

by Kendra Meyer on

Library News

In the American Museum of Natural History Research Library and Special Collections, we maintain a symbiotic relationship with both staff and researchers based on the mutual sharing of information. As often as we provide access to information discovery, we in turn receive new information from these scholars as they study our materials. Our most recent digitization project emerged from such a collaboration with AMNH Ornithologist, Mary LeCroy. We are pleased to offer more than 340 newly cataloged photographs from the Library’s collections associated with Rollo Beck and Ida Beck’s 1928-1929 expedition to Papua New Guinea. This set includes images of specimens, views of Papua New Guinea landscapes, and many portraits of Papuan people showing activities of daily life. Several images also document the area while the expedition team explored awaiting repairs to be completed on their schooner.

Portrait of ornithologist Mary LeCroy holding a bird specimen, photographed between 1989-1990
Portrait of ornithologist Mary LeCroy, 1989-1990. Image no. 2A25678, AMNH Library

This Museum-funded collecting trip took place directly after Beck ended his participation as leader of the Whitney South Seas Expedition.  While preparing to publish Rollo Beck's collections of birds in northeast New Guinea, AMNH Ornithologist Mary LeCroy studied the Library’s image collection. With her years of research experience and familiarity with the South Pacific, LeCroy soon realized that the legacy data documented for a large group of images was inaccurate. Because the better-known Whitney Expedition continued throughout this time, and due to the prior relationship between that Expedition and the Becks, the images often incorrectly referred to the wrong expedition. Thanks to LeCroy’s subject specialization and knowledge she was able to provide us with accurate and updated metadata which was added to Digital Special Collections, making these images discoverable and available to researchers. We look forward to sharing our next project soon!


New Guinea Expedition (1928-1929) Photograph of Ida May Menzies Beck awaiting a ferry boat at Gogol River, Papua New Guinea, 1928

View Collection »
Ida May Menzies Beck awaits ferry boat at Gogol River, Papua New Guinea, 1928
Beck, Rollo Howard, 1870-1950