Tracking Stone’s Tome
The dispersal of 1,400 copies of Bird Studies at Old Cape May
An article by Sandra L. Sherman in Volume 68 of Cassinia
The chapter titled “Swallow Clouds” from Edwin Way Teale’s Autumn Across America, published in 1950, contains lovely reminiscences of the author’s visits to the mecca of migration, Cape May, New Jersey. Teale speaks with fondness of memories of how “hordes of monarch butterflies embrowned whole branches as they clung to the Spanish oaks within the circle at Cape May Point,” of a “revolving wheel of broad-winged hawks” over Lake Lily, and of the swirling clouds of Tree Swallows that reign the fall skies there.
Describing the multitude of migrants, Teale notes, “On September 20, 1920, Witmer Stone, author of Bird Studies at Old Cape May, counted 86 species on a walk along the bay side of the point. Even as late as December 22, the 1935 Christmas census of the Delaware Valley Ornithological Club yielded 111 species. On October 27 of that same year, members of a National Audubon Society field trip to the point piled up 123 species. Seventeen years went by before, on September 21, 1952, a party led by Julian K. Potter raised that figure by one to the present record total of 124 species seen in a single day.”
Perhaps Teale would be astonished that the 24-hour record for Cape May now stands at beyond 200 species. But as the naturalist wrote of his 20,000-mile journey through autumn in North America, it is quite likely that he turned for reference to his own copy of Stone’s two-volume Bird Studies at Old Cape May: An Ornithology of Coastal New Jersey. Stone, who was associated with the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia for 51 years, was a founder of the Delaware Valley Ornithological Club, and the club published this definitive set of books in October 1937.
In fact, 1,400 copies of this book were printed. Its 940 pages are richly illustrated with 121 photographic plates, two of which are in color, and 280 line cuts by artists Earl L. Poole, Conrad Roland, Richard E. Bishop, J. Fletcher Street, and Herbert Brown.
I’ve long wondered where these copies have gone and how they have fared in the past 63 years – not a long time in publishing history, but certainly long enough for most of them to have vanished.
On the last page of Volume II is a statement regarding the total press run, and each copy’s unique number is stamped in red on that page. Once I learned that it was possible to research the history of the publication, I began a search to track them down. They have traveled the world, proudly sitting on public and institutional library shelves, as well as in private homes, from Montana and California to South Dakota, Wisconsin, Ontario, Iowa, Missouri, West Virginia, Florida, and Puerto Rico. They have even leapt across the Atlantic to Oxford University, England, and to an online book seller in Amsterdam.
The stories I’ve gathered, told through the approximately 265 copies I was able to locate, speak of a broad variety of acquisition methods: The books have been passed down from club member to club member; legally inherited; and bought at estate sales and auction houses and on line from Amazon.com. One response evoked the spirit of old Leary’s book store in Center City Philadelphia, as well as Sessler’s; others mentioned finding the book in shops in Seattle, Washington; Vermont; New York; and Bryn Mawr; or buying it from national book sellers in Iowa, Kentucky, or Virginia.
I can envision Teale sitting with his copy of Bird Studies of Old Cape May because among the copies whose whereabouts I discovered was #641, Teale’s personal copy, now housed with his manuscripts and papers at the Archives & Special Collections of the University of Connecticut Libraries.
The history that I uncovered tells a tale of a respected work that, to this day, reposes in almost 100 libraries and institutions around the country; many are in special collections – some were moved to such places or sent out for repair when notified of this project.
While the book was published in October 1937, it appears that Stone, then curator of North American birds and a vice president of the Academy of Natural Sciences, must have brought a carton or two of books to the December 16, 1937, DVOC meeting for members to purchase. Many of the books owned by members at the time have turned up with his inscription and that date. Publication price: $6 if bought at the Academy, $6.50 by mail. It also appears that there were distribution problems with the printer in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, however, and Stone made amends by shipping copies later with his inscription on a separate piece of paper.
Tracing the whereabouts of this two-volume set goes beyond learning about DVOC’s past. In fact, it touches generously on the history of twentieth-century American ornithology.
Stone also had served as the Academy’s curator of vertebrate zoology and had written a major work on the plants of southern New Jersey. He had been president of the American Ornithologists’ Union and was past editor of its journal, the Auk. He had many influential friends.
Frank Chapman, curator of birds at the American Museum of Natural History for 54 years and also an important author, left his copy, #173, to the museum’s Ornithology Department. Glued inside the front of Vol. 1 is a letter from Stone, dated January 15, 1938.
“Dear Chapman,” he wrote. “Thanks for your instructions to my printer. I wrote to Bob Murphy [ornithologist Robert Cushman Murphy] when the trouble in mailing first developed. I am anxious for you to have the books and also to get your reaction and, anyway, Murphy is reviewing it for the Herald-Tribune. It will, I think, be a good plan to have reviews coming out at intervals instead of all together, so the delay will not be serious. However, if, when you have looked over the volumes, perhaps you could send me a few lines that could be quoted in a preliminary circular; extracts from the review to be used later – all this of course if you feel that it deserves a good word!
“Yes, I began on March 1, 1888, at the Academy, so we are ‘twins’ again, as we were elected to the AOU at the same meeting. You are wise to limit yourself to one objective at a time. I have learned a lot along that line and on the philosophy of rest,’ during the past few years! I have not been out of town since returning from Charleston and shall probably remain at home throughout the winter. Even Cape May in winter has lost its lure now that the book is out and I am less able to face exposure. With all good wishes, Ever your friend. WS.”
The American Museum of Natural History al so owns two other copies: #721, which belonged to Wesley “Bud” Lanyon, and #986.
As expected, Roger Tory Peterson, dean of modern American bird-watching who wrote in the 1930s about the shooting of hawks during fall migration at Cape May, owned a set. Peterson, who also wrote the introduction to the 1965 Dover Press paperback reprint of Bird Studies, acquired copy #516 in 1939; it now resides at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute in Jamestown, New York, where it joined #370, a gift from the National Geographic Society.
In sending out requests for information on Bird Studies at Old Cape May, I used a return address of the Academy’s Bird Department and my e-mail address. Imagine my shock to receive a phone message that Don Eckelberry had called from his home on Long Island! Eckelberry, the artist who illustrated James Bond’s Birds of the West Indies and Richard ffrench’s A Guide to the Birds of Trinidad & Tobago, told me he had bought #732 in the 1940s, when, “for two autumns, I was the warden at the Audubon Sanctuary at Cape May Point.” He recalled coming to speak to DVOC at that time; when I checked the Abstract of Proceedings in Cassinia, sure enough, on January 18, 1945, Eckelberry discussed “Afield With the Birds of California.” (The artist passed away January 14, 2001.)
Speaking of Trinidad, William L. Murphy, now of Indianapolis, Indiana, and author of A Birder’s Guide to Trinidad and Tobago, owns #912. Murphy helped band raptors in Cape May in the 1980s.
And Cape May bander Olin Alien of Shepardstown, West Virginia, wrote that he received #535 as a gift from a rare-book collector.
The earliest copies of the book naturally were distributed to luminaries in the club and those involved in the production of the book.
So it was no surprise that, for example, Phillips B. Street, reported that he owned #6 – inherited, of course, from his father, J. Fletcher Street, a past DVOC president (as was Phil) and an illustrator of Stone’s book.
Stones inscription in this copy reads, “In grateful appreciation of his cooperation in the making of Bird Studies at Old Cape May. Dec. 15, 1937.” In addition, Volume 1 is signed by a number of men, including Conrad Roland, Richard Bishop, Earl Poole, William Baily, Wharton Huber, Charles Urner, Norman McDonald, and Julian Potter.
Potter was a driving force in DVOC, serving as secretary from 1919 to 1930 and as president from 1933 to 1935. In the books introduction, Stone acknowledged his good friend’s assistance in providing him with “voluminous notes” and records.
Among several boxes of Potters memorabilia recently donated to the DVOC archives was a batch of correspondence from Stone, including this letter, dated December 8, 1937:
The printer has promised me a few copies of the book early next week and I am celebrating by asking the artists, photographers etc. who have helped in getting it up, to a little informal gathering at my home on Dec. 15 at 8 pm, where I can hand you each your complimentary copy and a sandwich or two.”
Indeed, Potters copy, #8, was inscribed on December 15, 1937 – a Wednesday, and the night before the traditional Thursday DVOC meeting – as were several other early copies. This historic set has made the rounds but still resides with a club member. After Potter’s death, it went to South Jersey birder Donald Kunkle; with Kunkle’s death, the book was inherited by Bob Barber of Millville, New Jersey. Placed between its covers were an article celebrating Stone’s 50 years at the Academy, which ran in the Feb. 28, 1938, Philadelphia Evening Bulletin; a copy of his obituary, from the May 25, 1939, issue of a local newspaper; and several handwritten and illustrated personal letters from Conrad Roland to Potter.
While illustrator Roland’s copy was not found, Richard Bishop’s was. Number 11 is in the hands of club member Dr. Marvin Hyett, who has owned two other sets over the years. Again, it is inscribed by Stone and dated December 15, 1937. It, too, is signed by 12 other men.
Another of those signatories was McDonald, club secretary at the time of publication; 10 of his photographs were used in the 1937 edition. Mc- Donald’s copy, #12, has stayed in the family, too. Inscribed by Stone on December 15, 1937, this set was inherited by club member Keith Seager of Cape May County. Keith then presented it as a gift to club member Louise Zemaitis and her husband, Michael O’Brien, who now live in West Cape May. What makes this even more of a family affair is that Michael’s father, Paul O’Brien, is a former DVOC member – and McDonald was one of Paul’s sponsors for membership!
This tale gets more convoluted. Paul, now a Maryland resident, holds #1376, given to him by his daughter-in-law, Louise. He finds the books “just as fascinating to read now as they were when I first read my Dover copies some 30 years ago. Being a South Jersey native and former DVOC member (ask Alan Brady), this was home territory. That Louise and Michael live there now makes me insanely jealous.”
Arthur C. Emien, a member of a well-known Germantown family, was president of the club at the time of publication. From Aina, Maine, came word from his granddaughter, Lynne Flaccus, of copy #9. “My grandfather Arthur C. Emien was a friend of Witmer Stone and an amateur ornithologist. The volumes we have were given to my grandfather in December 1937 and signed by Witmer, ‘To Arthur C. Emien, in grateful appreciation of his cooperation in producing Bird Studies at Old Cape May.” This copy, too, is signed by the gang and was passed along to Flaccus when her mother died.
Emien, Flaccus wrote, “had died long before I was born but I had heard many stories about him from my mother and my aunts. My aunt Ellie Emien Myers was also very interested in birds through her father, and spoke highly of Witmer, whom they all knew quite well. She spoke of being allowed to go to a few of the meetings with Witmer and her father, which I gather was a bit unusual in those days, especially for a young girl.”
I was very pleased to find Emien’s copy and was amused at this bit of club history.
(Incidentally, #204, autographed for John W. Cadbury III, who joined DVOC in 1933 and who was a member of an equally well-known Germantown family, is now housed in the special collection of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.)
But Phil Street’s #6 remained the lowest number I had tracked down. At a meeting in spring 2000, Phil asked if I had found any earlier copies; at that time I had not. Unfortunately, he passed away before I could tell him the following news.
On July 31, 2000,1 received another e-mail message from Lynne Flaccus.
“I was over in New Hampshire this weekend and visited with my uncle, discovering that he has a copy of the Witmer Stone books as well. They belonged to my aunt, Elite Emien Myers, whom I mentioned in one of my earlier e-mails. My uncle Will, Ellie’s husband, has #1 and it is inscribed to Lillie M. Stone (was that his wife or daughter?). I’m not sure when Ellie was given the books, or by who. The inscription says: ‘For Lillie M. Stone with love from Witmer Stone and with fond regards of the following who helped so much in the production.’ It is signed by all of the same people that had signed the book I have, plus Arthur Emien and two more names which I couldn’t read. The books are in excellent shape and are kept in my uncle’s living room in Tarnworth, N.H.”
Lillie Stone was Witmer’s wife; the couple had no children. Of the 230 numbered returns I received, only one – #721, now at the American Museum of Natural History – was signed by both of them: “Inscribed for Dick Weaver with the regards of his friends, Witmer Stone Lillie M. Stone,” (in a different hand) dated October 21, 1938.
The whereabouts of another early number was revealed by Bill Uhrich, author of A Century of Bird Life in Berks County, Pennsylvania, whose personal copy is #570. He noted that while researching his book, he “had the opportunity to meet with Helen Poole, Earl Poole’s widow, to acquire many of the original line drawings used in the book for the purpose of reproducing them in A Century of Bird Life. I also noticed Earl Poole’s set of Bird Studies at Old Cape May and to satisfy my curiosity looked in the back for the set number. It was #2.” Poole’s copy is now in the possession of his son, J. Wharton Poole, who, incidentally, mentioned that he was named for club members J. Fletcher Street and Wharton Huber.
While Phil Street never learned of the whereabouts of #l,he was able, earlier in the year, to leave an indelible mark on this books second reincarnation. He wrote the introduction to Stackpole Books’ one- volume reprint, which was published in the summer of 2000. So, for those who don’t own the 1937 original or the 1965 Dover reprint. Bird Studies at Old Cape May is back in print and available again for all to enjoy. Within its covers is the obituary for Stone that ran in Cassinia. Incidentally, Stone was the first editor of this publication. His hand guided the course of Cassinia for 10 issues, from 1901 to 1910.
There are other, later autographed copies of the original set, often with the same formulaic “Inscribed with the kind regards of Witmer Stone.” For example, club member Dave Cutler, who owns three copies, has #32, purchased from the estate of Edward J. Stuart, Jr., who joined the club in 1925 and who, according to Cutler, was “a Delaware birding buddy” of Stone’s. This copy also contained personal letters from Stone to Stuart. The second set, #57, was retrieved from a local estate sale, inscribed to Winifred H. Russiter December 20, 1937; the third, an unsigned #1199, was owned by Carl Callopy, who. Cutler notes, was a “birding pal of the writer introduced to me by Dick Miller in 1941. He was an active member of the infamous Miller Bird Club (DVOC breakaway) which had approximately 40 hard-core members – Ed Reimann, Carl Callopy, Bob Newman, Quint Kramer, Bill Yoder, George Civil, Bill Jay, T. Baldwin, J. Kessler, and others. I believe this volume was purchased at a local antique show.”
Member Harry Armistead purchased #39 from Sessler’s book store about 20 years ago; it was inscribed on December 14, 1937 – the earliest inscription date found – to Charles M.B. Cadwalader, who was elected to DVOC in 1927; his address, as listed in Cassinia, was the Academy’s.
If there was a gathering that took place on December 14, apparently Fred Schmid was there, too. Stone signed #53 for Schmid, who joined DVOC in 1933 and worked with Stone at the Academy. Brooke Meanley, of Kennebunkport, Maine, accepted this set from Schmid’s widow about 20 years ago. Meanley, a fellow of the American Ornithologists’ Union and author of a treatise on the Swainson’s Warbler, wrote, “Fred and I worked together at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center.”
Only one current DVOC member had Stone autograph his personal copy at that December 16, 1937, club meeting: Dale Twining still owns #25.
As I mentioned, apparently Stone ran out of books at some point, and he sent #181 to Nelson DeW Pumyea, a DVOC fellow who joined in 1920, with the following note: “My Dear Pumyea, At last I am able to order the Cape May books sent you from Lancaster. As I have no way to mail any from here unless I carry them to the PO., I cannot autograph yours, but perhaps the enclosed may be inserted, or else bring it in to me.” “The enclosed” refers to a slip of paper inscribed, “Nelson DeW Pumyea. With the regards of his friend. Witmer Stone. Dec. 17, 1937.” This set of Bird Studies at Old Cape May was at some point acquired by former club member Ron Logan and inherited by Brian Logan upon his fathers death. This set is with Brian, now an ornithologist and director of field operations for the Montana Wildlife Federation.
Interestingly, #182, sent to Dr. Max Minor Peet, has a similar note: “I am compelled to have the Cape May books shipped from Lancaster and so could only autograph those that were called for here at the meeting.” This copy is one of two sets now at the University of Michigan; it is in the Wilson Ornithological Society Library.
The Academy itself houses at least five copies. There are four in the library: #84 is in the Academy library’s vault and was inscribed from Stone to the Academy and dated December 14, 1937; #179 was donated to the institution by Horace Groskin, who joined the club in 1936; DVOC donated#1325 to the library on January 25, 1951; and the fourth was a gift from Dr. and Mrs. H. Radclyffe Roberts; Volume 1 is inscribed by Stone to Roberts on April 7, 1938. Unfortunately, Volume 2, with the stamped number, had been misfiled. The fifth was Quinton and Evie Kramer s copy, #71 (Quinton joined in 1939, Evie in 1983; signed December 17, 1937), and it is nestled in Keith Russell’s Birds of North America office in the Academy Bird Department.
Other institutions, too, own multiple copies. The Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor houses three copies: #67, #1238, and #157; the latter was owned by C. Brooke Worth, an entomologist and DVOC member who lived in Eldora, New Jersey. It should come as no surprise that Cape May Bird Observatory owns four copies: #52, from former member Roy Imsick; #121; #431; and #1059. All are at the Research and Education Center in Goshen, rather than at the Northwood Center in Cape May. That edifice is the former home of. d’Arcy Northwood, who joined DVOC in 1959 and was the first curator of Mill Grove, John J. Audubon’s home. Northwoods copy, #1064, spent time at Mill Grove and is now at the Harry A. Sprague Library at Montclair State University in Upper Montclair, New Jersey. (Mill Grove wasn’t left Stoneless, though: director Alan Gehret, a DVOC member, reported that Mill Grove is now home to #1118 and #1391.)
Cornell University, in Ithaca, New York, actually has four copies. Its Laboratory of Ornithology has #51, once owned by F. R. Keating of Cambridge, Massachusetts, a corresponding member who joined DVOC in 1928 (Stone autographed this copy on December 16, 1937), and #138; Cornell’s Mann Library houses #350. Librarian Marie Eckhardt tracked down #189 in the Cornell Library storage facility. Inside was a slip of paper, inscribed, “Richard DeCou. With the regards of his friend Witmer Stone, Dec. 17, 1937.” DeCou, who was an active member of DVOC at the time the book was published, joined in 1935 and lived in Crosswicks, New Jersey.
Locally, the Free Library of Philadelphia (#238 at Central, #240 at Frankford; #239 probably was there at one time, too) and the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education (#180, #1201) both have double sets.
Many of New Jerseys libraries have original copies, including Ocean County (#209, #316, #1141), Cumberland County (#371 and Bridgeton Free Public Library, #1375), and Camden County (#551, presented in 1940 as a gift to Francis Beach White by fellow members of the Nuttall Ornithological Club in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on the occasion of his 50th anniversary as a member).
Edward R Ward of Medford, New Jersey, tells a very compelling tale. His copy, #109, was inscribed, “for Philip C. Walton with the regards of Witmer Stone. Jan. 6, 1938.” Ward wrote, “Phil was killed on D-Day. He was a friend of mine and eventually several of his books, including the Witmer Stone volumes, came to me.” Walton, who at the time lived in Merchantville, New Jersey, was elected to DVOC in 1937.
Past president Brian Moscatello bought #142, an autographed copy formerly owned by Edward J. White, who joined DVOC in 1927, from Dr. Marvin Hyett, who found it at a used-book dealer in Center City. This copy, which also held faded newspaper clippings about Stone, was autographed on December 16, 1937.
Other copies that have stayed in the family: Ed Manners, who died in the summer of 2000, purchased #1142 at a DVOC meeting; his copy has been passed to Ward Dasey. Ed had also let me know that Winifred Jacobs, widow of former DVOC president Joe Jacobs, still owned #1126.
George Reynard bought #949 in 1949, the year he joined the club; Frank West purchased Phil Livingston’s copy, #162, in 1980; Bob Sehl gave #940 to Dick Bell; John Miller owns Charles Price’s #1004; I am indebted to Gene Stern for my copy, #962; and Chris Walters inherited Ed Fingerhood’s copy, #1393 – which, incidentally, is the highest number located.
At least four copies of Bird Studies at Old Cape May were received as Christmas presents. Winston C. Sheppard’s parents had Stone autograph his copy on December 19, 1937, and he received it that year; Paul Schwalbe asked his parents for the book in 1945; he got #855, then gave his wife-to-be, Glenna, copy #612 in 1950 (they are both members); and artist and author of the National Audubon Society Sibley Guide to Birds, David Alien Sibley, who lived in Cape May for many years, was presented with #808. His wife, Joan Walsh, explains: “I bought it from Dr. Eugene Odum when I was a graduate student at the University of Georgia. As luck would have it, my office was next to his, and my friend had a desk in his anteroom. His library was also in the anteroom, and I’d look at his books while we had lunch. He entered full retirement in 1989, and his library needed to find a home. I offered to buy Bird Studies at Old Cape May, and he sold it to me in exchange for a donation to the UGA Institute of Ecology. In case you don’t know, Odum wrote the first ecology textbook, so this set has a cool provenance.”
At least 15 copies reside in Cape May County (including #921 and #1115 at the Cape May Historical and Genealogical Society). Pat and Clay Sutton’s #687 was owned by Henri and Rebecca Marceau; Henri, a former official with the Philadelphia Museum of Art, summered in Stone Harbor and was a fishing buddy of Clay’s father.
Another copy, now in Nantucket, Massachusetts, has a Cape May history. Ornithologist Edith F. Andrews writes that #388 “was given to me by my uncle J. R. Moon. He lived in Cape May and had Moon’s Drug Store on the corner back of Congress Hall. My uncle was a duck hunter and guilty of shooting hawks. We had many discussions about this. Needless to say it was a sore subject. He claimed he never shot a Sparrow Hawk that didn’t have bird meat in its crop. There was no way of changing his mind. I think I got it in 1938 as a graduation present from college. Somehow I refer to it more now than I did then. It is a great piece of work. I maintain a collection of bird skins in the Natural Science Department of the Maria Mitchell Association on Nantucket.”
A number of other ornithologists also made good use of this tome in their professional work.
Dr. Joseph M. Wunderle, Jr., has owned #23 since he was 16, having received it from his grand father, Horace G. Wunderle, who then lived in Rydal, Pennsylvania.
While he was a suburban Philadelphia teenager, Joe Wunderle writes, “the Stone volumes contributed to my interest in birds and helped motivate numerous birding trips to Cape May and vicinity in the 1970s. I spent untold hours poring over those wonderful volumes. Those volumes, along with participation in DVOC field trips and regular attendance at meetings, all contributed to a desire to become a professional ornithologist, which I have been for over 20 years (fellow in the American Ornithologists’ Union). James Bond directed me to the Caribbean, where I am a wildlife team leader and research wildlife biologist with the International Institute of Tropical Forestry, USDA Forest Service.
“Although I can’t attribute all my interest in birds and my professional success to the Stone volumes, they were a memorable part of my early development as a bird watcher. Those volumes still reside in a prominent place here in my office/library and occasionally, I still refer to them.”
Samuel H. Dyke of Salisbury, Maryland, put copy #279, bought in 1948 from the Academy, to good use. He notes, “In the 1950s, Theodore Hake and I conducted weekly fall shorebird surveys on the Susquehanna River flats in Lancaster County, Pa. Searching for a way to present our census information, I recalled the Charles Urner shorebird rankings in Bird Studies at Old Cape May and found his format to be perfect for our data. I still enjoy reading passages from these books.”
Others who have made their profession in the field of ornithology also responded to my request for information about Bird Studies at Old Cape May.
Glen E. Woolfenden of the Archbold Biological Station, Venus, Florida, grew up in North Jersey and, as a high school student, joined the Urner Ornithological Club. He has owned #192 for about 50 years. He became an ornithologist and taught at the University of South Florida. For 31 years, he noted, “my research project has been the behavioral ecology of the Florida Scrub-Jay. After retirement from teaching, my wife and I live full time at Archbold Station, where I continue studying the jays. In addition to publishing on a few distributional records of birds in New Jersey, my M.A. thesis was comparing the breeding behavior of Seaside and Sharp- tailed sparrows, which I conducted in salt marshes near Lavalette, N.J.”
Ecologist I. Lehr Brisbin, Jr., who has owned #414 since April 1999, commented, “This book … takes me back many years to when I was a child growing up in the Philadelphia suburbs and learning to watch and love the birds of Long Beach Island, where my family had a summer home in Beach Haven. In the summer of 1962 I attended a number of informal DVOC meetings at the Academy and began birding with a number of your club members – particularly Steve Hardy and my longtime friend Joe Devlin. After graduating from Upper Darby High School in June 1962,1 worked there at the Academy, taking care of the live animals in the exhibits-department lecture program for the summer months, before starting college that fall. I never returned to live permanently in the Philadelphia area, and therefore never actually joined the club. Since that time, I obtained a doctorate in ecology/ornithology and have spent the following 32 years as a professional wildlife biologist and ornithologist here at the University of Georgia’s Savannah River Ecology Laboratory. I am now a fellow of AOU….”
In one case, “all in the family” referred to Stone’s own relatives. Richard W. Coles, retired director of the Tyson Research Center and an adjunct professor of biology, Washington University in St. Louis, has owned #160 since about 1965. “This came to me through the family after the death of my grand mother’s brother-in-law, Hugh Exton Stone, who was a first cousin of Witmer Stone,” Coles wrote.
” ‘Uncle Hugh’ was a businessman and naturalist who himself did a book – The Flora of Chester County. As a teenager. Uncle Hugh retrieved a dead Dickcissel from beneath the fence surrounding a tennis court and reported the find at a DVOC meeting. When the members in attendance expressed doubt regarding this record, coming from a young person. Uncle Hugh listened quietly and then produced the study skin he had prepared from the pocket of his jacket.
“This account was repeated to me by Dr. Charles Brooke Worth (who was mentored by Uncle Hugh and who, in turn, was the most influential mentor in my own growth into a biologist and birder. Dr. Worth was a member of DVOC (as I was for a few years around 1955) who took me on many week end birding excursions, including 4 or 5 Century Runs.”
Several copies connected to other prominent authors and artists also were located. Writing from his home in Far Rockaway, New York, John Bull, author of the 1964 Birds of New York State, which also covers northern New Jersey, sent along a lovely note with the information that he owns #1274. Age 86 at the time of his letter, he reminisced about his connections to this area. “Yours truly took the Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines RR from Jersey City, N.J., to West Cape May. A bus took me to Cape May, where I was met by Evie and Quint Kramer. This trip to the Cape was way back in the 1930s. I also saw such oldtimers as James (Jim) Bond, Millard Lindauer, and Julian Potter. … One last memory – the old-time Lily Lake was almost entirely surrounded by large Pines (species?).”
Robert F. Andrle, Ph.D., of Eden, New York, co- editor with J. R. Carroll of the 1988 The Atlas of Breeding Birds in New York State, obtained #1022 from the library of a late friend.
And Peter J. Federici, M.D., of Vineland, New Jersey, noted that he purchased #580 from Douglas Kibbe of New York, who was co-editor of The Atlas of Breeding Birds of Vermont, which, when it was published in 1985, was the United States’ first breeding-bird atlas.
Long before club member Bob Ridgely put his stamp on Nearctic ornithology, his father was pals with a few New Jersey birders, too. When Dr. Beverly S. Ridgely, now professor emeritus of French studies. Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, purchased #695 more than 50 years ago, he was completing his graduate studies in Romance language and literatures at Princeton University. He wrote that, at the time, “as I still am, what is known as a ‘keen birder.’ Various friends and I at Princeton (e.g., Jim Meritt, a long-time member of DVOC) did a lot of birding around the Princeton area and also often went to the N.J. coast, including Cape May. Several times, incidentally, we went with Charles H. Rogers, a friend of Witmer Stone, I believe, who was then curator of ornithology at Princeton and taught a non-credit course to a few of us.” Dr. Ridgely said his copy is “in truly mint condition (even the thin paper wrappers!).”
Jim Meritt, a past president who has spent much time in Algonquin Park, Ontario, passed #878 to Bruce DiLabio, a top notch Ontario birder who for years has been a member of the Kowa Optics team in the New Jersey Audubon Society World Series of Birding.
Another copy that resides in that province is in good company. Ron Scovell of Toronto wrote to say that #1326 is part of his more-than-2,600-volume library of bird books.
Many of those who contacted me said their copies of Bird Studies at Old Cape May are still in pretty good shape; but I guess you’d expect that some would have gone through hard times. One copy in Cape May itself had been through a flood – but the best flood story came from Mike Jacobs of Gilby, North Dakota. He said he has owned #736 since January 1999, when he received the books as a gifr from Noel E. Parmentel of Stamford, Connecticut. “He sent them,” Jacobs wrote, “because he had heard, probably through a news program on public television, that I had lost my collection of bird books in the Red River Flood of 1997, which inundated Grand Forks, N.D. The books came through a Grand Forks attorney, evidently a friend of Mr. Parmentel.”
Other institutions can be counted from coast to coast: from the Western Foundation for Vertebrate Zoology in Los Angeles (#1262, from the estate of Walter B. Sampson, a department store executive who also donated his egg and nest collection) to the Marine Biological Laboratory/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod, Massachusetts (#1173 and #1374), and many colleges and universities across the country. It is fulfilling to know that DVOC’s most enduring contribution to ornithology remains cherished throughout the country.
I thank the following people who helped track down stray copies of Bird Studies at Old Cape May: club members Bob Barber, Alan Gehret, Jean Gutsmith, Bill Handley, Chuck Hetzel, Ed Manners, and Helen McWilliams; Sharon Flanagan of the Bird House of Cape May, who reminded me that each set of books is numbered; Laurie Larson of Princeton, New Jersey; lan Paulsen of Seatte, Washington; and Lynda Garrett and Wanda Manning of the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, Maryland, who contributed a list of about 97 institutions that include the work in their online card catalogs; and all others who took the time to dig up old ghosts.
I wish to continue gathering these stories; while not all numbers reported to me are included in this article, if you know of additional copies, especially the early numbers, please contact me at the address below. Updates may be posted on DVOC’s website, http://www.dvoc.org.
912 North St., Collingdale. PA 19023
(Webmaster Note: Sandy Sherman passed away in 2003. This article is only a small part of the legacy she left DVOC. The DVOC earnestly seeks corrections or additions to the material in this article. If you have additional information contact the Webmaster. Information on the location of additional copies are posted here.)