Walter Banfield Papers, ca.1945-1999.
12 boxes (6.75 linear feet).
Call no.: FS 117
The plant pathologist Walter M. Banfield joined the faculty at UMass Amherst in 1949 after service in the Army Medical Corps during World War II. A native of New Jersey with a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin, Banfield’s research centered on diseases affecting shade trees in the United States, and he is widely credited with identifying the origin of Dutch elm disease. As early as 1950, he emerged as a prominent advocate for the protection of open space and farmland, becoming a founder of the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail. An avid hiker and canoeist, he remained in Amherst following his retirement. He died at age 95.
The Banfield Papers include records from his Army service, family records, and professional and family correspondence – particularly between Banfield and his wife Hertha whom he met in Germany during WWII. The professional correspondence documents Banfield’s commitment to land preservation, and include many applications for land to be set aside for agricultural or horticultural use. Banfield was also a talented landscape photographer, and the collection includes a large number of 35mm slides reflecting his varied interests, including images of Europe at the end of World War II and various images of landscape, trees, forests, and other natural features that he used in teaching.
- Dutch elm disease
- Plant pathology
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Plant Pathology
- World War, 1939-1945
Arthur Cleveland Bent Collection, 1880-1942.
8 boxes (5.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 413
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.
- American Ornithologists' Union
- Bent, Arthur Cleveland, 1866-1954. Life Histories of North American Birds
- Bristol County Agricultural School (Bristol County, Mass.)
- Massachusetts Audubon Society
- United States National Museum
- Bent, Arthur Cleveland, 1866-1954
- Durfee, Owen
Types of material
Alexandra Dawson Papers
20 boxes (30 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 905
An attorney from Hadley, Mass., Alexandra D. Dawson was known throughout New England for her work in conservation law and environmental activism. Born in Maryland in 1931, Dawson married shortly after graduating from Barnard College and after raising a family of three, she resumed her education, earning a law degree from Harvard in 1966. Early in her legal career, she took up the cause of protecting “wildlife, wetlands, and woodlands.” She was among the earliest employees of the Conservation Law Foundation and later served as general counsel for the Metropolitan Area Planning Council. The author of a string of influential works in environmental law, including (1978), (1982), and the (1978-2006), she was also an educator, teaching at Antioch College (where she launched the environmental studies program), Tufts, the Kennedy School of Government, and Rhode Island School of Design. Among other commitments, Dawson was a key figure in the Kestrel Trust and served long stints on the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions (MACC) and the Hadley Conservation Commission. Dawson died of complication from emphysema on Dec. 30, 2011.
The product of a forty year commitment to conservationism, Dawson’s papers provide valuable documentation of land preservation efforts in New England, with a focus on the evolution of the legal context. Dawson was a formidable figure in efforts to protect wetlands, agricultural land, and open space, and her papers offer insight into land use planning, her teaching, writing, and speaking.
- Land use--Law and legislation--Massachusetts
- Wetlands--Law and legislation--Massachusetts
Joseph A. Hagar Papers, 1897-1976 (Bulk: 1930-1965).
6 boxes (7.92 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 743
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.
- Black duck
- Massachusetts Agricultural College--Alumni and alumnae
- Parker River National Wildlife Refuge
- Hagar, Joseph A. (Joseph Archibald), 1896-1989
Types of material
- Field notes
- Letters (Correspondence)
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.
- Decoys (Hunting)--Massachusetts
- Furnace Pond (Mass.)
- Oldham Pond (Mass.)
- Crowell, A. Elmer
- Foster, Otis
- Jocelyn, Edgar
William Gould Vinal Papers, 1931-1963.
3 boxes (1.25 linear feet).
Call no.: FS 138
William “Cap’n Bill” Vinal was the first instructor in nature education at Massachusetts State College and a pioneer in the field. A graduate of Bridgewater State (1904), Harvard (MA 1907) and Brown (PhD, 1922), Vinal worked for several years as a camp director on his native Cape Cod and held a variety of university appointments in nature education before joining the faculty at Massachusetts State College as Professor of Nature Education in the Nature Guide School in 1937. Spontaneous in the classroom and field, enthusiastic, and highly popular with his students, Vinal taught courses in conservation, outdoor leadership, outdoor recreation, and nature guiding, and was an important figure in the Massachusetts Audubon Society, the American Camping Association, the Camp Directors Association, and several conservation groups. After retiring from UMass in 1951, Vinal returned to his home in Norwell, Mass., remaining active as a nature writer and teacher until his death in 1973.
A valuable glimpse into the early growth of nature and conservation education, the Vinal collection includes dozens of scarce publications by the exceptionally prolific Cap’n Bill, along with a small quantity of correspondence, talks, and reports. As a collection, these document the origin and growth of the Nature Guide School and the program in nature recreation at MSC and UMass, and more generally the growth of nature, recreation, and conservation education in New England. Of local interest is an extensive report for the town of Amherst Recreation Survey Committee (1948) regarding recreational opportunities for youth. Nearly half of the collection consists of an extensive run of Vinal’s quirky, self-published Nature Guide Newsletter (1935-1951).
- Amherst (Mass.)--Social life and customs
- Conservation of natural resources--Study and teaching
- Nature Guide Newsletter
- Outdoor education--Massachusetts
- University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Nature Guide School
- University of Massachusetts Amherst. Program in Nature Recreation
- Vinal, William Gould, 1881-
Mary Morris Walker Papers, 1868-2003 (Bulk: 1944-2003).
8 boxes (12 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 775
An avid botanist and naturalist, Mary (Morris) Walker was born in Stamford, Conn., on April 1, 1923, the daughter of renowed surgeon and naturalist Robert Tuttle Morris. After graduating from Vassar in 1944, Morris took her MA in Geology at the University of Michigan, marrying a fellow geologist Eugene H. Walker in 1947. Moving to Kentucky, Iowa, and Idaho before settling in Concord, Mass., in 1968, the Walkers raised three children. In Concord, Walker studied for an MA in library science at Simmons College (1971), but her work in botany and natural history became increasingly important. As a plant collector, writer, and educator, Walker traveled widely in the United States and the Caribbean, and she became a leader in organizations including the New England Wild Flower Society, the New England Botanical Club, the Thoreau Society, and the Appalachian Mountain Club. Walker died in Concord on Oct. 2, 2012.
The Walker Papers are a rich assemblage of materials documenting the life of an energetic amateur botanist. Beginning during her time as a student at Vassar, the collection offers insight into Walker’s growing interest in the natural sciences, her botanizing, and her commitments to several organizations devoted to natural history. The collection also includes a small number of letters and photographs of Walker’s father, Robert T. Morris.
- Botany--Study and teaching
- New England Botanical Club
- New England Wild Flower Society
- Thoreau Society