Ornithology (5 collections) SCUA

Bent, Arthur Cleveland, 1866-1954

Arthur Cleveland Bent Collection, 1880-1942.

8 boxes (5.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 413
A.C. Bent, 1929
A.C. Bent, 1929

An avid birder and eminent ornithologist, Arthur Cleveland Bent was born in Taunton, Massachusetts, on November 25, 1866. After receiving his A.B. from Harvard in 1889, bent was employed as an agent for the Safety Pocket Company and from 1900 to 1914, he was General Manager of Mason Machine Works. His passion, however, was birds. An associate in Ornithology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University, Bent became a collaborator at the Smithsonian and president (1935-1937) of the American Ornithologists’ Union. The culmination of his research was the massive, 26 volume Life Histories of North American Birds (1919-1968).

The Bent collection is a glimpse into the birding life of a remarkable amateur ornithologist. It contains the field notebooks of his collaborator, Owen Durfee (1880-1909), his own journals (1887-1942), photographs and negatives (1896-1930), correspondence concerning the photographs (1925-1946), and mimeographed and printed material. Bent’s records cover nest observations, egg measurements, bird sightings, and notes on specimens provided to organizations such as the Massachusetts Audubon Society, the Bristol County Agricultural School, and the United States National Museum.

Subjects

  • American Ornithologists' Union
  • Bent, Arthur Cleveland, 1866-1954. Life Histories of North American Birds
  • Birds
  • Birds--Eggs
  • Birds--Eggs--Photographs
  • Birds--Nests
  • Birds--Nests--Photographs
  • Birds--Photographs
  • Bristol County Agricultural School (Bristol County, Mass.)
  • Massachusetts Audubon Society
  • Ornithologists--Massachusetts
  • United States National Museum

Contributors

  • Bent, Arthur Cleveland, 1866-1954
  • Durfee, Owen

Types of material

  • Field notes
  • Photographs

Coffin, Robert L.

Robert L. Coffin Ornithological Journal, 1912-1922.

1 vol. (0.1 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 593 bd

Robert L. Coffin (1889-1976) began a long association with the Massachusetts Agricultural College when he arrived on campus in 1912 to begin work as an assistant photographer for the East Experiment Station. His skill as a technical photographer and his artistic eye, however, soon made him a valuable commodity on campus and within a few years of his arrival, Coffin had branched out to work for a wide range of departments across campus and, in the late 1920s, for the US Department of Agriculture in Pennsylvania and New Jersey as well. An avid birder and naturalist, Coffin was particularly known for his nature photography, using a battery of different cameras to capture everything from scenic vistas to photomicrographs. Although he established a commercial photographic studio in Amherst in 1931, Coffin continued to accept a wide range of assignments at UMass, earning recognition as the unofficial campus photographer. He remained active almost to the time of his death in 1976 at the age of 86.

Containing the meticulously detailed records of an avid birder, the Coffin journal contains records of sightings and first and last occurrences of birds observed in the years 1912 and 1917-1922. The records in the journal reflect Coffin’s many birding trips in western Massachusetts, mostly in the Connecticut River Valley, however the journal also contains records from the Swift River Valley, the Harvard Forest, the Boston area, and the Connecticut coast. In a few cases, Coffin recorded the numbers of birds observed.

Subjects

  • Bird watching--Massachusetts
  • Birds--Massachusetts
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst

Contributors

  • Coffin, Robert L

Types of material

  • Field notes

Hagar, Joseph A. (Joseph Archibald), 1896-1989

Joseph A. Hagar Papers, 1897-1976 (Bulk: 1930-1965).

4 boxes (6 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 743
Hudsonian godwit hatchlings
Hudsonian godwit hatchlings

An ornithologist and conservationist for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Joseph A. “Archie” Hagar’s career was rooted in the generation of naturalists such as William Brewster, Edward Howe Forbush, and Arthur Cleveland Bent. Born in Lawrence, Mass., on May 13, 1896, Hagar’s undergraduate career at Harvard was interrupted by service in the First World War, after which he completed his studies at the Massachusetts Agricultural College, graduating with the class of 1921. An expert field biologist and ecologist, he was appointed State Ornithologist in the Department of Fish and Game in November 1934 serving in that position for almost twenty five years. A specialist in waterfowl and raptors, Hagar was deeply involved in early conservation efforts in New England, noted for his work on wetland conservation and for linking the use of DDT with eggshell thinning in peregrine falcons, and he was famously at the center of a dispute with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the design of the Parker River Wildlife Refuge. Never a prolific writer, he was an active member of the American Ornithological Union, the Nuttall Ornithological Club, the Wildlife Society, and other professional organizations, and after retirement, he was specially cited for his work in waterfowl conservation by Ducks Unlimited. Active until late in life, he died at home in Marshfield Hills on Dec. 17, 1989.

The Hagar Papers are a deep and valuable resource for the study of New England birds and the growth of modern conservation biology. With abundant professional correspondence, field notes on shorebirds and raptors, and drafts of articles, the collection documents the full range of Hagar’s activities as State Ornithologist, including a particularly thick run of material for the controvery over the Parker River Wildlife Refuge. Hagar also acquired a set of field notes, 1897-1921, from the Harvard ornithologist John E. Thayer.

Subjects

  • Birds--Massachusetts
  • Black duck
  • Conservationists--Massachusetts
  • Massachusetts Agricultural College--Alumni and alumnae
  • Ornithologists--Massachusetts
  • Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Contributors

  • Hagar, Joseph A. (Joseph Archibald), 1896-1989

Types of material

  • Field notes
  • Letters (Correspondence)
  • Photographs

Hoag, Benjamin

Benjamin Hoag Records, 1901-1915 (Bulk: 1907-1914).

3 boxes (4.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 710

Born at Ancram, N.Y., the merchant Benjamin Hoag (1865-1932) lived most of his life in Stephentown, N.Y., near the Massachusetts border. In 1900, he was listed as a dealer in bicycles, but by 1910, he was operating a broader retail trade in dry goods and grains. At the same time, he conducted a thriving trade in ornithological and oological supplies, announcing in journals such as The Oologist that he sold “books, periodicals, tools, supplies, eggs” as well as “fine line fish tackle and rods.” He also appears to have run a magazine subscription agency, offering everything from the Saturday Evening Post and Good Housekeeping to professional journals such as the Condor Magazine.

The Hoag collection consists of 1,345 letters, mostly incoming, and over 800 pieces receipts, ephemeral items, and other documents, relating to both Hoag’s oological and magazine businesses. Concentrated between 1901 and 1914, the collection offers a rich documentation of the oological trade in the years shortly before it was outlawed in 1918.

Subjects

  • Birds--Eggs
  • Egg trade--New York (State)

Contributors

  • Hoag, Benjamin

Oldham Camp

Oldham Camp Records, 1876-1927.

1 vol., 27p. (0.1 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 569bd

The abundant waterfowl at Oldham Pond, Plymouth County, Mass., has long been a lure for hunters. During the nineteenth century, both hunting and recreational shooting of geese and ducks grew in scope throughout the Commonwealth, with the development of at least two formal hunting camps at Oldham.

The Oldham Camp records contains a detailed tally of waterfowl shot at Oldham Pond, along with an “Ancient history of Oldham Pond” by Otis Foster, 1906, chronicling changes in hunting practices and the advent of blinds and decoys. These records include annual summaries of geese taken at the camp (1876-1895) and summaries of both geese and ducks (1896-1919). More valuable are detailed records of “daily bags,” 1905-1915, providing daily kill totals for each species (primarily ducks). An addendum by Edgar Jocelyn, 1927, provides additional historical detail on the hunting stands at Oldham Pond and changes in methods of attracting ducks. There are, as well, narrative annual summaries of the hunting seasons, 1905-1908 and 1912. Tipped into the front of the volume is a typed letter from the renowned Cope Cod decoy maker A. Elmer Crowell (1852-1951), July 2, 1926, reminiscing about hunting at Wenham Lake and promising to begin work on the decoys.

Subjects

  • Decoys (Hunting)--Massachusetts
  • Ducks--Massachusetts
  • Furnace Pond (Mass.)
  • Geese--Massachusetts
  • Hunting--Massachusetts
  • Oldham Pond (Mass.)

Contributors

  • Crowell, A. Elmer
  • Foster, Otis
  • Jocelyn, Edgar
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