Collections: Archives

An incomplete list of archives and manuscripts related to John James Audubon and The Birds of America in the Beinecke Library collections; to locate additional materials in the Library’s holdings, search ORBIS, the Yale Library Catalog and the Yale Finding Aid Database
The collection contains autograph letters, signed, written by John James Audubon to his wife Lucy Green Bakewell Audubon and colleagues, one of his engraved visiting cards, and autograph manuscript writings by Audubon and fellow naturalists Thomas McCulloch, Thomas Nuttall, and John Kirk Townsend. Prominent among the letters is one of 4,000 words from Audubon to his wife, written from Edinburgh in 1826, in which he describes exhibitions of his drawings and various social events, with a transcription of a phrenologist’s reading that he had received. Also included are an 1898 letter from ornithologist Leonard C. Sanford to Sarah Manning Sage, the wife of collector Dean Sage, and a letter from John Woodhouse Audubon, son of John James Audubon, to A. J. Crossman. Prominent among the writings are 118 essays published in Audubon’s Ornithological Biography (1831-39), describing plates included in his major work The Birds of America (1827-38), and an annotated pencil drawing of a petrel. Much of the material in the collection was formerly owned by William Robertson Coe.
The Morris Tyler Family Collection of John James Audubon consists of correspondence of John James Audubon and members of his family, third party correspondence that relates to Audubon and his work, manuscripts by Audubon and others, and a small amount of family papers. Also included are research files about Audubon compiled by the Morris Tyler family, descendants of Audubon, and a nineteenth century autograph collection presumably amassed by a family member.The John James Audubon component of the collection includes correspondence among family members; letters by and to others including many naturalists and ornithologists; and third party correspondence that relates to Audubon including numerous letters of introduction written on his behalf. The bulk of the correspondence dates from the late 1820s through the 1840s when Audubon was producing and promoting Birds of America and working on The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America. Much of the correspondence concerns these ventures. There is extensive manuscript material for The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America in the collection and lesser amounts for Ornithological Biography, as well as several manuscripts by family members and others that relate to Audubon and his work. Family papers include legal and financial materials, maps and floor plans, and printed items.The autograph collection includes letters and documents signed by U. S. Presidents, military officials, cabinet officers, governors, authors, college presidents, and other prominent nineteenth century figures. Included in the autograph collection are groups of letters to several nineteenth century booksellers and publishers.
Collection includes correspondence between Victor Gifford Audubon and Daniel Rice, a book subscription agent, regarding the production and sale of the works of John James Audubon. Also included are 22 uncolored, 8 partially tinted and 2 hand-colored lithographed plates for the octavo edition of “The Birds of North America,” all by John T. Bowen after Audubon; 3 additional hand-colored plates, also by Bowen after Audubon, which may have served as colorist’s proofs or models; and a group of 19 pencil and watercolor portraits and drawings by an unidentified artist.
Holograph manuscript diaries kept by John G. Bell during his participation in John James Audubon’s Missouri River expedition in 1843. Bell left New York on Mar 11, arrived in St. Louis on Mar 28, and arrived at Fort Union on Jun 12, from which he travelled in the surrounding area and along the Yellowstone River during Jun-Aug. Bell left Fort Union on Aug 16 and arrived in New York in early November. The three volumes are a printed diary, published by Jansen and Bell, New York, completed in manuscript for Mar 11-Dec 31, with brief entries describing collection of specimens, hunting of buffalo and other animals, and noting specimens mounted after his return to New York; a volume containing longer, detailed entries for Jun 13-Aug 13; and a volume with similar, long entries, possibly drafts, for Aug 2-7, with additional accounts, lists, and notes.


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