Minutes – Sept 13, 2018

Delaware Valley Ornithological Club


Witmer Stone’s “Bird Studies at Old Cape May,” sets 1, 2 & 3, plus other Related Items, including Original Art for the Book, Original Letters, some Witmer Stone-collected Specimens and a Lecture by Bill Uhrich

Time: 7:30

This remarkable meeting was catalyzed by Bill Uhrich’s finding the third copy of Witmer Stone’s book (published in October, 1937),  which had been signed to Conrad Roland, one of the book’s principal illustrators.  Each of the books had been numbered (from 1 – 1400) at the time of printing.  The third copy also contained within it some of the original art and also some letters, none of which had apparently been previously known.  Robert Peck, Senior Research Associate at ANS-Drexel, learned of this find from Uhrich, and–along with assistance from Matt Halley, an ornithology graduate student at Drexel, and marvelous work by Greg Cowper & Jennifer Vess of ANS-Drexel–they mounted an evening exhibition and lecture that DVOC and the Berks Historical Society publicized. Forty-eight attendees enjoyed perusing copies of Stone’s volumes, original art work for the book by the artists Conrad Roland, Earl L. Poole, J. Fletcher Street, Richard E. Bishop and Francis Herbert Brown, specimens of birds and odes that Stone had collected at Cape May, a previously unknown portrait of Stone, the historical portraits on the library walls, and other items.

Following the initial segment of the evening, from 7:30-8:oopm, when attendees circulated among the items on display, Matthew Halley introduced the evening’s activities, as well as the main speaker, Mr. Bill Uhrich, a columnist and writer for the Reading EAGLE.  Uhrich delivered an amusing and edifying lecture entitled “The Enduring Legacy of Witmer Stone’s Bird Studies at Old Cape May,” which told the story of the origin of the two-volume work, and delved into Stone’s relationships with Conrad Roland and Earl Poole, as well as with prominent members of DVOC who had been among the original signers of the first few published volumes.  Those included Julian Potter, Arthur C. Emlen, Charles Urner, William Baily, John Bartram, Wharton Huber, N.J. McDonald, and others.   Uhrich’s animated style and use of original letters to embellish his talk made it quite riveting and surprisingly intimate.

A gallery of moments (and items) at this Special Event:

Witmer Stone

Pre-lecture mingling and perusing of items on display

Bert Filemyr in foreground, Sime Bertolet on left; pre-lecture perusal of items on display

Enjoying art work by Herbert Brown: Anne Bekker and friend

Copy no. 1 of Volume 1, Bird Studies at Old Cape May, signed by club luminaries at a DVOC meeting on December 15, 1937

Matt Halley introduces the evening’s subject by providing historical background to the current gathering and also to the creation of Stone’s volumes

Sanderlings by Herbert Brown

Osprey, by Herbert Brown (photo by Scott McConnell)

Razorbill by Conrad Roland

Atlantic Puffin– wow!–by Conrad Roland (not used in the book)

Black Skimmer, both in the book and in its original form, by Conrad Roland

George Armistead (DVOC President) & Jason Weckstein (Curator of Birds at the Academy – Drexel)

Matt Halley providing information about the portraits on the walls

Some of Witmer Stone’s specimens, collected at Cape May


Bill Uhrich (writer, historian – Reading Eagle); with Matt Halley


Drawing of Witmer Stone by Conrad Roland (photo by Scott McConnell)


Sime Bertolet (Historical Society of Berks County) & Robert Peck (ANS – Drexel) – with Osprey by Conrad Roland

Awaiting the lecture by Bill Uhrich

Crown gathering; note Scott McConnell (biographer who wrote Witmer Stone: The Fascination of Nature), on right in back, arms akimbo, wearing white shirt

Listening intently

Witmer Stone, by Conrad Roland