Information for Researchers
Collection Title: Watercolors of Birds of the Pacific Slope [graphic],
Date (inclusive): 1853-1869
Collection Number: BANC PIC 19xx.117--ffALB
Grayson, Andrew Jackson, 1818-1869
Number of items: 155 watercolor drawings (in 15 oversize boxes)
Berkeley, California 94720-6000
Physical Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
Abstract: Various birds from California and Mexico, identified by scientific and common name.
Information for Researchers
Collection is restricted. Use only with permission of the Curator of Pictorial Collections. Inquiries concerning these materials
should be directed, in writing, to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library.
Copyright has not been assigned to The Bancroft Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts
must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Bancroft
Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which
must also be obtained by the reader.
[Identification of item], Watercolors of birds of the Pacific slope [graphic], BANC PIC 19xx.117--ffALB, The Bancroft Library,
University of California, Berkeley.
Title: Andrew Jackson Grayson Papers,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS C-B 514
Andrew Jackson Grayson was born in 1819 on the family plantation In Louisiana. Subject to frequent illness he was permitted
by his parents to occupy much of his time as he pleased. As a result he passed many of his days in the nearby woods hunting
small game and observing birds and other wildlife. He attended a local school until the teacher found him drawing birds during
class and told his father. He was promptly sent to college in Missouri with orders not to study drawing. After the death of
his father he used his small legacy to go into business in Columbia, Louisiana. But business didn't interest him. He left
his clerk in charge of the store while he roamed the woods and the business soon failed. By 1842, the year of his marriage
to Frances Jane Timmons, he had decided to move west. In 1844 they moved to St. Louis to prepare for the journey.
In the spring of 1846 Grayson, his wife, and their infant son, Edward, started overland for California with a group that included
ex-Governor Lilburn Boggs of Missouri and, until their tragic turnoff at Fort Bridger, the Donner party. Soon after their
arrival in October, Grayson joined the California Battalion. Later he went into business in San Francisco and purchased lots
there and in other parts of the bay area.
In 1853 Mrs. Grayson saw an exhibit of Audubon's plates "Birds of America" at the Mercantile Library in San Francisco. She
took her husband to see it, and he realized that he must resume his drawing. The family settled in San Jose where he taught
himself drawing, paint mixing and taxidermy. After short residencies in Tehuantepec, Mexico, in 1857, and in Napa Valley in
1859, studying and drawing the local birds, Grayson settled in Mazatlan to work on his proposed "Birds of the Pacific Slope."
Grayson spent the last ten years of his life in the area around Mazatlan and nearby Islands, and contributed many articles
on natural history to newspapers and magazines in Mexico and California, writing under his own name and the pseudonyms "Wanderer,"
"Rambler," and "Occidentalus." He sent many birds and other specimens and detailed bird biographies to the Smithsonian Institution.
Although discouraged by lack of funds, the repudiation of his contract with the Academy of Science and Literature following
the execution of Maximilian, and the accidental death of his son in 1867, Grayson seized every opportunity to complete his
project. Financial aid finally came from the Smithsonian but it was too late; Grayson was already ill with coast fever from
which he died on August 17, 1869.
Mrs. Grayson returned to California and, in 1872, married George Belden Crane. In 1879, after many unsuccessful attempts to
publish Grayson's plates she gave them to the University of California. Prior to her death in 1908 she also gave to the University
his letters, notebooks, and manuscripts. The collection relates mainly to Grayson's work in ornithology and to Mrs. Grayson's
attempts to secure publication of his work.
A key to arrangement of the pictorial collection follows.