Sarah Lavanburg Straus: African Expedition

Title

Sarah Lavanburg Straus: African Expedition

Description

Sarah Lavanburg Straus (1861-1945), widow of Oscar S. Straus, went to Africa in 1929 at the age of 68 on a group bird collection expedition for the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Some of the territory traveled through was so remote that they had to build their own roads and trestle bridges along the way. Sarah, and her grandson Edward Schafer, accompanied ornithologist Rudyerd Boulton and his ethnomusicologist wife Laura on a four month, 15,000 mile, adventure through Uganda, Kenya and Nyasaland (now Malawi). They collected 900 bird specimens, some of them never before documented. Then, in 1935, at the age of 74, Sarah returned to Africa on a second expedition, this time for the Field Museum of Chicago.

After her second African adventure, Sarah reported with a chuckle, “We got lost in the Sahara on our way back to Dakar after the expedition and it was days before we could find our bearings again. We had planned our return trip so that we’d be back before the stormy weather but our calculations went wrong and we ran into a series of sandstorms that buried our station wagon. There was nothing we could do but sleep on the hard sand in blankets and dig our way out in the morning. None of us were strong enough to dig out the car, and, besides, we didn’t have any shovels. Luckily, another party of hunters came along and got us out of our predicament after the storm had passed.”

The 1935 expedition collected 700 small mammals, 300 phonograph recordings of native African music, 1000 still pictures, 15,000 feet of motion pictures and 700 varieties of birds. These specimens are used for study and remain accessible, even today, to scientists from all over the world.

Boulton named a small African warbler with a chestnut throat for Sarah Straus: apalis chapini strausae. This warbler species lives at 5,600 to 8,000 feet above sea level. It is a small insect eating bird with blackish feathers and a chestnut colored throat.

Creator

Boulton, R.

Date

1929

Source

https://lbry-web-007.amnh.org/digital/files/original/28315fb7e80e7754eba784be4434c765.jpg

Relation

Links:

“The Straus African Expedition of 1929” Straus Historical Society Newsletter Vol. 5 No. 2 (New York: February 2004); pp. 8-9.

http://www.straushistoricalsociety.org/uploads/1/1/8/1/11810298/_______nwsltr204.pdf

Rights

Sarah Lavanburg Straus: African Expedition

Source: The Straus Historical Society

See also: American Museum of Natural History

Publisher

American Museum of Natural History Research Library

Contributor

American Museum of Natural History Research Library

Format

Medium: Photograph

Language

English

Type

Figures

Identifier

Sarah Lavanburg Straus, Straus Family, Africa, Mammals, Music, Birds

Coverage

Historic

Files

sarahafrican.jpg

Reference

Boulton, R., Sarah Lavanburg Straus: African Expedition, American Museum of Natural History Research Library, 1929

Cite As

Boulton, R., “Sarah Lavanburg Straus: African Expedition,” Virtual Museum of Public Service, accessed April 20, 2021, https://vmps.omeka.net/items/show/485.