Guide to the Andrew Jackson Grayson Papers, 1844-1901

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History --History, California --General Geographical (by Place) --California Biological and Medical Sciences --Biological Sciences --Animal Biology

Guide to the Andrew Jackson Grayson Papers, 1844-1901

Collection number: BANC MSS C-B 514

The Bancroft Library

University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley, California

Contact Information:

Processed by:
The Bancroft Library staff
Encoded by:
Xiuzhi Zhou
© 1997 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Collection Summary

Collection Title: Andrew Jackson Grayson Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1844-1901
Collection Number: BANC MSS C-B 514
Creator: Grayson, Andrew Jackson, 1818-1869
Extent: Number of containers: 8 boxes Linear feet: 3.2
Repository: The Bancroft Library.
Berkeley, California 94720-6000
Physical Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
Abstract: Pt.I Letters written to and by Grayson and his wife; diary of overland journey to California, 1846; field notebooks; manuscripts of his writings; water colors of birds of California and Mexico; photographs; and clippings relating primarily to his ornithological studies. Letters written after 1869 are primarily concerned with Mrs. Grayson's efforts to publish his work.--Pt.II Microfilm copy (black and white) of the water color drawings in Pt.I.--Pt.III Microfilm of letters written to and by Grayson; will and other papers of Mrs. Grayson. Originals in various depositories.
Languages Represented: English

Information for Researchers


Collection is open for research.

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], Andrew Jackson Grayson papers, BANC MSS C-B 514, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

Material Cataloged Separately

  • Photographs transferred to the Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft Library
    Identifier/Call Number: (BANC PIC 19xx.149--PIC).
  • Watercolors of birds transferred and shelved as
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC PIC 19xx.117--ffALB.
  • Drawings from Mexico also transferred and shelved as
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC PIC 19xx.118--A)


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. Much of the correspondence is with Spencer F. Baird of the Smithsonian who encouraged Grayson and helped whenever possible by sending publications and supplies and by providing him with final identification of species. Photographs have been cataloged separately.
A key to arrangement follows.

Box 1

Letters written by Andrew Jackson Grayson, 1844-1869

Scope and Content Note

Arranged chronologically. Early letters relate mainly to family affairs. Those written after 1859 are concerned with ornithological matters. Some letters are copies in Mrs. Grayson's handwriting. See also letters in Part III (microfilm).

Letters written to Grayson.

Scope and Content Note

Arranged alphabetically by name of person or organization with a miscellany of single letters preceding the rest of the file, as follows:



Alemany, Joseph Sadoc, 1814-1888


Letter, Mar. 14, 1857.

Scope and Content Note

Letter of recommendation used during visit to Mexico

Allen, Henry Watkins, 1820-1866


Letter, Nov. 20, 1865

Scope and Content Note

Requests Grayson to become a correspondent for Allen's newspaper Mexican Times.

Allen, Joel Asaph, 1838-1921


Letter, June 10, 1868

Scope and Content Note

Requesting information on Mexican birds for Harvard College.

Almada, Gregorio, 1819-1870?


Certificate, July 24, 1861.

Scope and Content Note

Written in Spanish, acknowledging receipt of documents.

Brannan, Samuel, 1819-1889


Letter, Aug. 1, 1859


Cortés, Francisco


Letter, Oct. 1, 1861.

Scope and Content Note

Official letter written in Spanish.

Lawrence, George Newbold, 1806-1895


Letter, Aug. 8, 1869.

Scope and Content Note

see also letter written to Mrs. Grayson.

Magruder, John Bankhead, 1810-1871


Letter, Mar. 11, 1866.

Scope and Content Note

Letter of recommendation addressed to General Jose L. Uraga.

Rosecrans, William Starke, 1819-1898


Letter, Apr. 14, 1869.

Scope and Content Note

Written while minister to Mexico; includes two letters of recommendation.

Baird, Spencer Fullerton, 1823-1887


56 letters, 1856-1869.

Scope and Content Note

Relate mainly to Grayson's bird collecting and to his shipments of birds and other specimens to the Smithsonian Institution.

See also letters written to Mrs. Grayson, Box 2.

Henry, Joseph, 1797-1878


6 letters, 1868-1869.

Scope and Content Note

Relate to Grayson's specimen collecting for the Smithsonian Institution.

See also letters written to Mrs. Grayson, Box 2.

Maury, Matthew Fontaine, 1806-1873


2 letters, 1866.


Rio de la Loza, Leopoldo, 1807-1876


5 letters, 1866.


Smithsonian Institution

See also Baird, Spencer F. and Henry, Joseph.


Xántus, Janos, 1825-1894


4 letters, 1861-1863.

Box 2

Letters written by Mrs. Grayson, 1852-1901

Scope and Content Note

Include also letters written after her marriage. Arranged chronologically. Relate mainly to Grayson's work and her attempts to publish his portfolio of drawings. Some letters are copies of originals In the Smithsonian Institution. See also letters in Part III (microfilm).

Letters written to Mrs. Grayson

Scope and Content Note

Arranged alphabetically, with a miscellany of single letters preceding the file, as follows:



Crane, George Belden, 1800-1898


Letter, Dec. 8, 1871.


Lawrence, George Newbold, 1806-1895


Letter, Jan. 11, 1875.

Scope and Content Note

Suggesting that she give Grayson's notes and portfolio of western Mexican birds to the Library of Congress.

Martin, William H.


Letter, June 29, 1876.

Scope and Content Note

Concerns the Inclusion of Grayson's bird drawings in the California exhibit at the Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia.

Mercantile Library Association, San Francisco


Letter, Mar. 10, 1870.

Scope and Content Note

Acknowledgement of gifts. Included also: Certificate of membership.

Baird, Spencer Fullerton, 1823-1887


19 letters, 1865-1885.

Scope and Content Note

Relate mainly to Grayson's work and efforts to secure its publication.

Henry, Joseph, 1797-1878


2 letters, 1869.

Box 3

Diaries, notebooks and manuscripts of Grayson's writings (listed by titles used by Grayson).


Bird biographies. Arranged alphabetically as follows:


American Peregrine Falcon


Ash Colored Hawk


Black Vulture


Blue-back or Crow Jay


Blue-billed Long-legged Duck


Blue Mocking Bird


Boat Bill Night Heron


Bull Headed Flycatcher


Burroughs Vulture


California Vulture


Caracara Eagle


Cooper's Hawk




Cow-pen Blackbird


Crimson Necked or House Finch


Double Crested Oriole


Fantail Flycatcher


Great Green Maccaw


Great Mexlcan Creeper


Great Mexlcan Tyrant Flycatcher




Jauga or Paradise Oriole


King Vulture


Largest Kingfisher


Least Tit


Little Gros-beak Finch


Little Ground Dove


Little Mexican Crow


Little Peregrine


Long Tall Falcon


Long Tailed Hawk


Mangrove Rail


Mazatlan Boat-tailed Blackbird


Mazatlan Oriole


Mazatlan Swallow


Mazatlan Vireo


Mazatlan or Cactus Woodpecker


Mexican Curved-bill Thrush


Mexican Ground Dove


Mexican Night Hawk or Texas Night Hawk


Mexican Painted Finch


Mexican Tyrant Flycatcher


Orange Legged Hawk




Patagonia Pigeon


Pigeon Hawk


Red Bill or White Wing Pichichine


Red Crested Flycatcher


Red Crowned Flycatcher


Red Cuckoo


Red Eyed Blackbird


Red Fronted Parrot


Road Runner


Rose Breasted Thrush


Rosybreasted Fantail


Scaly Dove or Sand Dove


Sharp Shinned Hawk


Snake Bird or American Darter


Socorro Island Owl


Socorro Island Parrot


Socorro Towhee Finch


Socorro Wren


Solitary Dove


Sparrow Hawk


Tres Marias Island Wren


Tres Marias Yellow Headed Parrot


Turkey Buzzard


Urraca or Long-tail Jay


West Peregrine Falcon


White Breasted Squirrel Hawk


White Crested Hawk


White Fronted Parrot


White Headed Red Hawk


White Wing Dove


Yellow Crowned Night Heron

Box 4

Account of trip to California, 1846




Birds of the Pacific Slope. Field notebooks. 3 vols.

Box 5

Catalog of Birds Collected In Northwestern and Western Mexico, Chiefly in the Locality of Mazatlan. With Remarks about their Migrations, etc.


Exploring Expedition to the Island of Socorro from Mazatlan, Mexico.


For the Academy of Science, Mexico. An appeal for increased zoological research.


List of Birds Described by A. J. Grayson


List of Socorro Island birds collected by A. J. Grayson, May, 1867.


Little Journal of Incidents Whilst on a Surveying Party with Von Schmidt in the fall of 1853in the Tulare Plains.


[Miscellaneous lists and notes on birds. ]


[Pocket notebook containing list of species, with references to field notebooks.]


[Pocket notebook containing sketches and notes on birds shot near Tehuantepec, 1857.]


Report upon the birds etc. the Tres Marias Islands on the western coast of Mexico


Socorro Island Exploring Expedition, Catalog of birds collected


State of Sinaloa


Systematized List of Mazatlan Birds So Far Recorded by A. J. Grayson


Tres Marias Islands


Voyage from Mazatlan to Tres Marias Islands

Box 6

Copies of published writings


Copy of the Hesperian,Vol. II, 1859 containing articles and reproductions of paintings of the following:


Crimson-necked House Finch


Red Cuckoo


Red-breasted or Cinnamon Teal


Swallow-tailed Flycatcher


Bearded Jay


Largest Oriole


Reprint of Natural History of the Tres Marias and Socorro from the Proceedings of the Boston Society of Natural History, June 7, 1871.


Copy of the Mazatlan Times (pp. 1-2) containing the article A Visit to Socorro Island.


Journal kept by Frances Grayson on trip from Tepic to Mexico City and return.



Scope and Content Note

Contains clippings of articles written by Grayson add published in various newspapers and magazines including the Daily Alta California, Hutchings' California Magazine, Overland Monthly, Mazatlan Times, Mexican Times, California Farmer and Journal of Useful Sciences, and the St, Helena Star. Also contains articles and clippings about Grayson including an article from Overland Monthly by Bret Harte; obituaries; articles about Mrs. Grayson, George Belden Crane, California history, and miscellaneous poems, etc.
Box 7

Publications by other ornithologists


Baird, Spencer Fullerton

Scope and Content Note

Review of American Birds In the Museum of the Smithsonian Institution. 1864-ca. 1866

Coues, Elliott

Scope and Content Note

Prodrome of a Work on the Ornithology of Arizona Territory, 1866.

Lawrence, George Newbold


Birds of Southwestern Mexico collected by Francis E. Sumichrast for the United States National Museum, 1875.


Birds of Western and Northwestern Mexico, 1874. (Based on collections sent to the Smithsonian Institution by Grayson and others)


Catalogue of the Birds Found In Costa Rica, 1868.


Descriptions of New Species of American Birds, 1867.


Descriptions of Six New Species of Birds, 1866.


List of a Collection of Birds from Northern Yucatan, 1869.

Box 8


Scope and Content Note

Includes biographies of Grayson; passports and marriage certificate of Mrs. Grayson and George B. Crane.

See also: Scrapbook in Box 6 and will and papers re Mrs. Crane's estate in Part III.

Drawings and sketches by Grayson of scenes, mainly In Mexico: Transferred to pictorialcollection.

Scope and Content Note

One pencil sketch is titled "Encampment on Kings river slough, 1853."

Genealogy of Grayson family.


Invitations for social events in San Francisco and Benicia, 1847-1853.



See also: Scrapbook


Receipts, bill of lading, etc.


Autograph album

Scope and Content Note

Compiled by Mrs. Grayson in Mexico; some signatures from former Confederate officers.


See also Scrapbook



Mainly to Spencer F. Baird; a few letters to Grayson; deed for plot in Society of California Pioneers section of Masonic Cemetery, San Francisco, 1870; burial instructions and copies of will of Frances Grayson-Crane; papers re her estate, 1910. Location of originals noted on film.