Dr. Edward Smith Craighill Handy, 88, a retired ethnologist and anthropologist who was an authority on peoples of the Pacific islands, died of pneumonia Friday at the Iliff Nursing Home in Dunn Loring, Va.

He had participated in several expeditions to Pacfic islands in the 1920s, including some to the Society Islands. He also had been affiliated with the Bishop Museum in Hawaii in the 1920s and early 1930s. He kept up these interests and contacts until the end of his life.

Dr. Handy was sought out by others in the fields of ethnology and anthropology. Margaret Mead, author of "Coming of Age in Samoa" and many other noted books, took instruction in the Marquesan language from Dr. Handy.

After serving as a visiting professor at Yale in the mid-1930s, Dr. Handy returned to his native Virginia and in 1936 became a farmer near Oakton in Fairfax County. He also wrote historical studies on Virginia and on the life of Woodrow Wilson. He was a trustee of Wilson's birthplace in Staunton.

Dr. Handy was a member of the Truro Episcopal Church in Fairfax. He was also a member of the Cosmos Club.

Dr. Handy was born in Roanoke and was a 1915 graduate of Harvard University.He also earned master's and doctoral degrees in anthropology there. He was the author of "Native Culture in the Marquesas" and "Polynesian Religion," among other works.

His wife of 39 years, the former Elizabeth Green, died in 1973. Dr. Handy leaves no immediate survivors.