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William L. Finley Papers, 1899-1946
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William L. Finley Papers, 1899-1946

  • MSS Finley
  • Collection
  • 1899 - 1946

William L. Finley's papers primarily document his work as a wildlife conservationist, author, lecturer, photographer, and filmmaker from about 1900 to 1940. The collection also documents the work his wife Irene Finley and photography partner Herman Bohlman. The collection consists of published and unpublished manuscripts, lecture and field notes, reports, correspondence, photographs and motion picture films.

An addition to the collection (Accession 2014:062) is made up of correspondence and newspaper clippings documenting the wildlife conservation work of William and Irene Finley. Among the topics addressed in the correspondence include: song bird protection laws in Oregon, requests to Finley for use of his photographs, the forming of an Oregon Fish and Game Commission, biological surveys conducted by Finley, legislation in California repealing meadowlark protection, and letters by Finley to various organizations regarding the presentation of one of his lectures. A highlight among the correspondence is a thank you letter from Finley to President Theodore Roosevelt for his establishment of wild bird reservations. The clippings are newspaper articles written by Irene and William Finley about encounters with wildlife, nocturnal bird sounds, and their filming of wildlife at Paulina Lake. The four articles all appeared in editions of the "Oregon Sunday Journal."

Finley, William L. (William Lovell), 1876-1953

Series 1: Manuscripts, circa 1910-1942

This series consists of typewritten and handwritten manuscripts of newspaper and magazine articles, books, lecture notes, circa 1910-1942. Some were submitted to publications such as Pacific Monthly, Sunset Magazine, Century and Nature Magazine. Many describe particular species of birds. Authors include William L. Finley, Irene Finley, Phoebe Finley, Kenneth Reid, and Ed Averill.

Finley, William L. (William Lovell), 1876-1953

Series 2: Publications, 1905-1945

This series consists of publications, including typescripts and newspaper clippings of articles written by William and Irene Finley and Ed Averill for the Oregon Journal and the Sunday Oregonianbetween 1935 and 1945 The articles describe bird, fish and mammal species, wildlife refuges, and trips taken by the Finleys. Some are editorial in nature, such as advocating for a new Portland zoo or calling for certain limits on hunting. The series also includes articles written for Nature, National Geographic, and other publications.

Series 3: Correspondence, 1909-1911, 1926-1940

This series consists of correspondence between William Finley and individuals in agencies, associations, commissions, academic institutions, and societies such as the National Association of Audubon Societies, state and federal Departments of Fish and Game, and the State of Oregon, as well as individuals, including Theodore Roosevelt and Oregon Governor Oswald West. It also includes correspondence related to the drafting of a bill proposal for a new State Fish and Game Commission for Oregon, and Finley’s subsequent appointment as Chairman, as well as bills for wild bird protection that led to the establishment of Oregon’s first wildlife refuges and private land reserves. Also included is correspondence between William and Irene Finley, between the Finleys and Campbell Church, pertaining to the Finleys' 1926 Alaska trip. Other topics addressed in the correspondence are exchanges with journal editors concerning Finley’s articles and photographs; Finley’s inquiries about providing lectures for a planned Midwest and East Coast trip that was later cancelled due to illness; requests for his photographs and requests for lectures. Also represented is the issue of illegal sale of hats using wild bird feathers at millineries in San Francisco and Los Angeles leading to the loss of species; Finley’s concerns regarding the attempted removal of meadowlark protection in California, due to a public perception that they negatively impact agriculture; arrangement and negotiation of a traveling demonstration train for the purpose of wild bird educational exhibits (activism).

Series 5: Trip Notes, 1926-1938

This series consists of trip notes, most of which pertain to the Finleys' 1926 Alaska trip. Other notes document a 1931 Alaska trip by Arthur Pack and William Alakangas, a 1929 trip to Arizona and New Mexico, a 1927-28 trip to the eastern United States, and a 1938 trip to Oregon's Paulina Lake.

Series 6: Organizations and Issues, 1909-1946

This series consists of files pertaining to various organization and issues. Organizations represented include the Isaac Walton League, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Bureau of Biological Survey, and the Oregon State Planning Board. Issues include reclamation in the Klamath and Malheur basins, salmon and Bonnevile Dam, stream pollution, and mountain lions. Also included is a 1915 report by Stanley Jewett, "Report on Birds Seen at Netarts Bay."

Series 7: Personal Materials, 1899-circa 1920

This series consists of personal materials and includes academic materials and ephemera from William Finley's student days at the University of California, William and Irene Finley's 1906 wedding book, and Phoebe Finley's notebook on costume design from the 1920s.

Series 8: Motion Picture Films, circa 1927-1935

Series VIII consists of several of Finley's motion picture films and related materials, such as film ownership notes, lecture posters, title lists and title placards. The films are silent, black and white 35mm safety film copies of earlier nitrate films and are grouped into three subseries. The first group consists of six films of the Pacific Northwest and Montana and date from 1927 to circa 1930. They document forests, Bonneville Dam, waterfowl, salmon, Crater Lake, and elk and mountain goats in Montana. The second group consists of five Alaska films documenting the Finleys' 1926 Alaska trip, various Aleutian Islands, Kenai, and Mt. McKinley. The third group consists of short film segments. They show the Finleys on board a ship, probably from one of their Alaska trips, and in Arizona and New Mexico. The latter includes footage of cactus and desert wildlife and birds. All films have been transferred and include a BetaSP or MiniDV duplication master and a VHS or DVD use copy. Most of the films have been made available online.

Series 9: Photographs and Painting, circa 1900-circa 1940

This series consists of photographs and a painting. The bulk of the photographs are prints used in or similar to those in Finley's American Birds, taken by Finley and/or Herman Bohlman. Other photographs depict wildlife, including bears, mountain goats, birds and wolves; fish ladders at Bonneville Dam; and the Finleys and their children and grandchildren.

Wild ducks conservation

Manuscript in which the author describes the need for duck conservation in Oregon due to hunting. Duck hunters want the season to be longer, which is reflected in a new game bill that was introduced in the Senate (Senate Bill 99) and the House of Representatives (House Bill 108). The document asks the Oregonian to "raise its voice" in response to the duck hunters.

Finley, William L. (William Lovell), 1876-1953

Observation of birds at a pond near Sunnyside

Manuscript in which the author describes his enthusiasm for bird watching and using that activity to educate oneself on aviary wildlife. The manuscript discusses a pond near Sunnyside and the birds he has observed. The author expresses concern over boys in the area disrupting the birds.

Finley, William L. (William Lovell), 1876-1953

The witches' garden

Manuscript for a Pacific Monthly article (March 1906) in which William Finley describes his observations of a family of yellowthroats. He discusses the thrill of the hunt when it comes to capturing images of birds.

Finley, William L. (William Lovell), 1876-1953

The chickadee

Manuscript discussing a family of chickadees. Topics include feeding of offspring and field observations. Published in The Condor on May 1, 1906.

Finley, William L. (William Lovell), 1876-1953

The weaver of the west

Manuscript in which William L. Finley observes a bush-tit's nest and the family that occupies it. Provides field observations and colorful descriptions of the family of birds. Also included are Finley's handwritten notes.

Finley, William L. (William Lovell), 1876-1953

The eagle of Mission Ridge

Manuscript describing a family of eagles on the southern end of Mission Ridge. Finley describes his surroundings as well as the difficulty of wildlife photography.

Finley, William L. (William Lovell), 1876-1953

Two studies in blue

Manuscript in which William L. Finley points out the importance of knowing two flocks of birds of blue: bluebirds and blue jays. He lists his observations and assertions that knowing wild birds can improve any child's life.

Finley, William L. (William Lovell), 1876-1953

Plume hunting

Manuscript in which the author describes the brutal practice of plume hunting. Observations of grebes are also recorded.

Finley, William L. (William Lovell), 1876-1953

La Prath

Manuscript describing the activities of La Prath, a French-Canadian professional hunter. The author details the places, types of birds, and compensation.

Finley, William L. (William Lovell), 1876-1953

Notes on grebe skin traffic

Manuscript describing the plight of the western grebe being hunted for their durable skin. The document describes the hunters' realization of the diminishing bird population.

Finley, William L. (William Lovell), 1876-1953

After heron

Manuscript describing the author's understanding of the plumage hunters' motivation. The author lays the blame of demand of plumage at the feet of plumage dealers, milliners, and the women who buy plumage.

Finley, William L. (William Lovell), 1876-1953

Herons

A lecture describing a trip to California to search for herons.

Finley, William L. (William Lovell), 1876-1953

Phoebe

Manuscript describing observations of a family of phoebes.

Finley, William L. (William Lovell), 1876-1953

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