By Aeroplane to Pygmyland: Revisiting the 1926 Dutch and American Expedition to New Guinea

Interpretive Essays

Browse Photos and Film

Expedition Source Material

About this Project



When first launched in November 2006, By Aeroplane to Pygmyland: Revisiting the 1926 Dutch and American Expedition to New Guinea, by Paul Michael Taylor, inaugurated a new peer-reviewed web-based series within the Smithsonian Institution Libraries Digital Editions. The General Editor of this series, “Sources and Critical Interpretations,” is Martin Kalfatovic (Head, New Media Office, Smithsonian Institution Libraries).

The compilation and interpretation of the 1926 expedition source materials, including Dutch records that were unavailable when this online publication was first launched, continues within the Smithsonian’s Asian Cultural History Program. The research and archival team for this project includes researchers Paul Taylor and Mark Mulder, publications director Christopher Lotis, and program manager Gregory Shook.

Smithsonian Digital Editions is produced by the Smithsonian Institution Libraries:

  • Nancy E. Gwinn, Director
  • Martin R. Kalfatovic, Head, New Media Office
  • Keri Thompson, Digital Projects Librarian

This publication within the series is a joint production of the New Media Office of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries (SIL) and the Asian Cultural History Program, Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, through an agreement signed by Nancy Gwinn (Director, SIL) and former Anthropology Department Chair William Fitzhugh; continued under the subsequent Anthropology Department Chair, Daniel Rogers. Special thanks are due to Thomas Garnett, former Associate Director for Digital Library and Information Systems.
This website was designed and constructed by staff of the New Media Office, Smithsonian Institution Libraries, headed by Martin Kalfatovic; with much help from Thomas Garnett and Nicole Van Doren.

Within the Asian Cultural History Program, Paul Michael Taylor worked with Christopher J. Lotis (Director of Publications), to select and critically edit and annotate archival materials within this publication. Many other staff and volunteers assisted over the years in searching for archival records, transcribing documents and audio recordings, checking all transcriptions against the originals, and scanning or digitizing the images, documents, and film footage from the 1926 expedition. Gregory P. Shook assisted as program manager.

Archivist Paula Fleming (formerly of the National Anthropological Archives) and National Museum of Natural History Registrar Patricia Nutter made archival materials in those repositories available, as did staff of the Smithsonian Institution Archives and of the National Anthropological Archives and the Human Studies Film Archives. Neda Juraydini digitized the film footage and transcribed audio recordings; Marcia Bakry re-drew some original illustrations and maps; and in the early months of the project Christopher R. Duncan worked with student interns to prepare an initial draft transcription of the “V1” variant of the Stirling journal, and scanned and assembled an earlier selection of archival photographs. Other staff, interns and volunteers who assisted with locating, transcribing, or digitizing documents and images include (in alphabetical order): Ron Fett, April Franks, Michel D. Lee, Laura Green, Monica Kapoor, Hilga Prins, Georgia Reilly, Russell Ross, Rocío Rufrancos, Jody Valente, Amber Vaisongais. The author also sincerely thanks the anonymous reviewers of a prior version of this peer-reviewed publication.

All Smithsonian staff involved in this publication are grateful for the 80th anniversary commemorative symposium about this expedition, at which this online publication was launched. That November 16, 2006 symposium and reception at the National Museum of Ethnology (Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde), Leiden, Netherlands, was generously co-organized by the National Museum of Ethnology (thanks to the interest of the Director, Steven Engelsman) and the International Institute of Asian Studies (IIAS). The IIAS’s retiring director W.A.L. Stokhof (whose enthusiasm for the publication of Dutch source materials on western New Guinea has been a great inspiration) generously arranged for IIAS to co-sponsor the symposium, which was put together by Marloes Rozing (Head of seminars and publications), with Manon Osseweijer (Academic coordinator). We gratefully acknowledge the symposium’s co-sponsorship by the Papua Heritage Foundation (thanks to the leadership of Dr. Jaap Timmer) and the Embassy of the United States of America to the Netherlands (with special thanks to Mr. Gary Keith, Public Affairs Officer), and we thank the symposium participants and speakers from the United States, the Netherlands, and Indonesia. Among the attendees was Mark Mattijs Mulder of the University of Amsterdam, who subsequently joined our research team at the Smithsonian.

Initial archival research was supported by grants from the Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Studies Program. The generous support of Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold through the Smithsonian’s Papua Fund (formerly Irian Jaya Fund) has long enabled the Smithsonian to include Papua within its public programming (films, exhibitions, public events), and has also supported work on this publication. Special thanks are due to Dr. D.J. (Jim) Miller; and also to Richard C. Adkerson, Russell King, Paul Murphy, David Norris, Mary Johnston, Rusdian Lubis, and Stanley Batey.

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