Struck by a serious heart condition during his senior
year at Yale, Dickey returned to early interests in natural history and
photography to occupy his mind and hands during the prolonged recovery period.
By the time he had regained full strength in 1916, he had also formulated a new
life goal: to establish a research center for study of the vertebrate zoology of
Southern California, and to build a supporting collection of taxidermy
specimens, photographs and books. This finding aid introduces the still
photography part and some movie footage of that collection: over 4000 images
captured by Dickey and his associates on various formats of film negatives,
glass plates and slides. Each entry in the finding aid for the still photographs
leads to a Dickey negative and a 5 x 8" reference card which contains a positive
image, and identifying information. Three-hundred-and-fifty of the images, from
1911-1929, have been digitized and are viewable online at:
Donald Ryder Dickey (March 31, 1887-April 15, 1932) was an adventurous,
pioneer wildlife photographer as well as an ornithologist and mammalogist. He
was well known in his time for: his photographs (both still and moving) of birds
and mammals; his lectures on wildlife; and eventually, for his substantial
specimen collection of birds and mammals. Drawn to outdoor life in his childhood
and youth, he considered this nothing more than a hobby until he experienced a
serious heart collapse in his senior year at Yale and was sentenced to immediate
and complete bedrest. Allowed to graduate with his class because of his high
academic standing, he returned after graduation to his parents' home in Pasadena
for two years of inactivity. He visited a friend's ranch in the Ojai Valley
after about a year, and there, from his steamer chair, he began to observe, and
after a time to photograph, local birds and their nests.
72.7 linear ft.
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