National Geographic Society - Smithsonian Institution Expedition to Panama (1951)

Usage Conditions Apply
The Smithsonian Institution Archives welcomes personal and educational use of its collections unless otherwise noted. For commercial uses, please contact

Narrow Your Results


Filter Your Results

Smithsonian Secretaries Information

Close Browse records and papers of the Smithsonian Secretaries, from 1846 until today. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by individuals who have held that office.

Expeditions Information

Close Browse records and papers documenting scientific and collecting expeditions either affiliated with the Smithsonian, or with which Smithsonian researchers participated. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by geographic regions predominantly represented in expedition records.

Professional Societies Information

Close Browse records of professional societies closely associated with the Smithsonian, that focus on areas of scientific research and museum studies. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by major topics and disciplines.


In 1951, the National Geographic Society and Smithsonian Institution partnered in an expedition to Panama to investigate archaeological sites between the Canal Zone and the border of Costa Rica. Taking advantage of the dry season, the expedition worked from February to April in the under explored Atlantic coast region of Panama. Departing on Jan 2 from Newark, the group arrived in Panama City on January 17th and began their journey westward. By March, the group had visited a number of sites along the Rio Cocle del Norte, the largest stream of Western Panama. Major collecting sites included La Peguera, Cascajal, La Pintada, and Mojarra. The group was led by Matthew W. Stirling, Director of the Bureau of American Ethnology, at the Smithsonian Institution. He was accompanied by archeologists Marion Stirling, Robert Rands, and National Geographic Photographer Richard H. Stewart. Dr. Alexander Wetmore and Watson M. Perrygo joined the expedition at a later date to study and catalog the region’s birds. Collecting of pottery and ancient stone weapons were made at a dozen sites during the trip. Portions of the collections were sent to the Smithsonian, with other pieces remaining to Panama’s National Museum.

Date Range

1951 - 1951


  • Archaeology
  • Animals
  • Birds
  • Ornithology


  • La Pintada
  • Panama
  • Mojarras
  • Cascajal
  • Canal Zone
  • Río Coclé del Norte


Expedition name