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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Am 21, MS Am 21.5

John James Audubon letters and drawings


Letters and drawings by American naturalist John James Audubon.


  • 1805-1892
  • Majority of material found in 1805-1847

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.

Conditions Governing Use

Images linked to this finding aid are intended for public access and educational use. This material is owned and/or held by the Houghton Library, and is provided solely for the purpose of teaching or individual research. Any other use, including commercial reuse, mounting on other systems, or other forms of redistribution requires the permission of the curator.


4 linear feet (15 boxes and 1 volume)

Contains professional correspondence of Audubon and 14 boxes of his drawings. Many of the letters are to Audubon's friend and patron Edward Harris who accompanied him on several expeditions. Also includes five drawings deposited by the Ernst Mayr Library, Museum of Comparative Zoology (MCZ 118).

Biographical / Historical

Audubon was an American artist and ornithologost.


Arranged into the following series:

  1. I. Drawings (pfMS Am 21)
  2. II. Correspondence (bMS Am 21)
  3. III. Additional letters by Audubon (fMS Am 21.5)
  4. IV. Drawings by John James Audubon, deposited by the Ernst Mayr Library, Museum of Comparative Zoology (MCZ 118)


In 1824 Audubon sold many of these drawings to Edward Harris, and later gave others to Harris in gratitude for his continued financial support and friendship. The Harris Collection remained intact until 1892, when a large part was purchased from the estate of Edward Harris 2nd by Joseph Y. Jeanes of Philadelphia. (see Francis H. Herrick, Audubon the Naturalist, New York: D. Appleton, 1917).

Immediate Source of Acquisition

98M-51. MS Am 21 and MS Am 21.5: Bequest of Joseph Y. Jeanes, 1928. Delivered to Harvard, 1930.

MCZ 118: Deposited by the Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology.

Processing Information

Processed by: Leslie A. Morris, with assistance of Scott V. Edwards

Audubon, John James, 1785-1851. John James Audubon letters and drawings, 1805-1892: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Language of description
Imaging funded by the Class of 1952 Manuscript Department Fund.

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, archives, and more. Houghton Library's collections represent the scope of human experience from ancient Egypt to twenty-first century Cambridge. With strengths primarily in North American and European history, literature, and culture, collections range in media from printed books and handwritten manuscripts to maps, drawings and paintings, prints, posters, photographs, film and audio recordings, and digital media, as well as costumes, theater props, and a wide range of other objects. Houghton Library has historically focused on collecting the written record of European and Eurocentric North American culture, yet it holds a large and diverse number of primary sources valuable for research on the languages, culture and history of indigenous peoples of the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Houghton Library’s Reading Room is free and open to all who wish to use the library’s collections.

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