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Finding Aid to the Watercolors of Birds of the Pacific Slope. 1853-1869
BANC PIC 19xx.117--ffALB  
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Collection Details
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  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Biography

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Watercolors of birds of the Pacific slope.
    Date (inclusive): 1853-1869
    Collection Number: BANC PIC 19xx.117--ffALB
    Creator: Grayson, Andrew Jackson, 1818-1869
    Extent: Number of items: 156 watercolor drawings (in 15 oversize boxes) 156 digital objects (156 images)
    Repository: The Bancroft Library
    University of California, Berkeley
    Berkeley, CA 94720-6000
    Phone: (510) 642-6481
    Fax: (510) 642-7589
    Email: bancref@library.berkeley.edu
    Abstract: Various birds from California and Mexico, identified by scientific and common name.
    Languages Represented: Collection materials are in English
    Physical Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

    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.

    Publication Rights

    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.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Watercolors of Birds of the Pacific Slope., BANC PIC 19xx.117--ffALB, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Alternate Forms Available

    Digital reproductions of images are available.

    Related Collections

    Andrew Jackson Grayson Papers, 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.

    Additional Note

    156 original watercolor drawings of Birds of the Pacific Slope. The numbers do not indicate systematic or chronological order. This is the order in which they were arranged when bound by Edward Bosqui, May 15, 1876. Correct scientific and common names of species are given on the first line. Quoted material is what appears on the paintings. Following this is a brief description of painting content. Numbers on plated relate to collection data as given in notebooks containing species accounts.