These expeditions were proposed by Georg Thilenius and funded by the Hamburgische Wissenschaftliche Stiftung (Hamburg Scientific Foundation). It was a two year expedition to study and describe German Melanesia the Caroline and Marshall Islands in Micronesia. The stated goal of the expedition was "to observe and record the final phases of an old, indigenous culture as long as it still had vitality and still retained as many remnants as possible of the old times, which were little changed" (Berg, p. 1). The Melanesian portion of the expedition was led by Friedrich Fülleborn and the Micronesia portion was led by Dr. Augustin Krämer. While these locations were German colonies at the time of the expeditions, by the time the results were published colonial administration had changed.
Due to the variety of researchers and authors, the types of information collected and the organization and depth of description varies from volume to volume. This series is a very rich source of information about the geography, geology, society, religion, music, legends, and language of these islands. Almost every volume contains images and illustrations of the places, the people and the material culture. This publication continues to be of tremendous value for those interested in the history and culture of this region.
Many of the objects collected during the expedition and some of the original diaries are still held at the Museum für Völkerkunde in Hamburg.
I created this guide to facilitate access to this extensive 30-volume monograph series. The original text is in German, and each book has different authors and the organizational style of each volume varies. This series has not been comprehensively or consistently translated into English. Some volumes have multiple translations; others have only select topics or sections translated; still others have never been translated at all. My hope is that this Library Guide will help clarify what resources are presently available and how to access them.
The basic organization of the series is as follows
I. Expedition Plan (1 book)
II. A. Geography and Ethnography of Melanesia (4 books)
II. B. Geography and Ethnography of Micronesia (25 books)
Sections II. A. and II. B. are further split into volumes that (usually) directly correspond to an island or group of islands, and many of these are further split into parts. On "The series and translations" page there is a box for each individual part/book with basic descriptions of the contents of the original German text, as well as links to any translations and their scopes. Translations may be grouped or bound differently than the originals and in these cases are linked multiple times associating it with each original book from which the translation is drawn.
I have used the current geographic and political groupings, as well as the current English spellings to define the geographic scope of each volume for the left-column navigation and the headings of the individual boxes. However, the titles themselves are copied directly from the texts. If individual island names are mentioned I have included both the English and German versions as well as any alternate names or spellings to ease a webpage search for specific information.
Most links in this guide will take you to the catalog record of the print item held in the Pacific Collection at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Library. Please go to the "Library Information" page for instructions on how to access these items in our library. But please also note that many of these resources are available in libraries all over the world. If there is a online-PDF version of the item I have either linked it in the title or in the description. I will add more links to full-text versions as they become available.
And finally, I do not read or speak German. I relied on available translations, a dictionary and google translate. Any interpretive problems or outright mistakes are mine, and suggestions for improvements are welcome.