Hill Collection Scope
The Hill Ornithology Collection is part of the History of Science Collections which are
housed in the Division of Rare and Manuscript
Collections in Kroch Library. Its emphasis is on North American ornithology and on
works issued prior to 1900, but the scope is wide. Historical ornithological books of
significance from many parts of the world, as well as some 20th century publications, are
The Hill Ornithology Collection is a growing entity. At its core are more than 100
volumes given to Cornell by Kenneth E. and Dorothy V. Hill. Among these are magnificent
copies of works by Mark Catesby, Alexander Wilson, John James Audubon, John Gould, and
Daniel G. Elliot. The goals of the Hill Collection are to chronicle the pre-1900
development of ornithology as a science, and to depict the growth of bird illustration as
an art form, with particular concern for comprehensiveness in North American ornithology.
All additions to the Hill Collection are selected with these goals in mind.
American ornithology clearly has its roots in Europe. As early as the 15th century
European explorers to the New World brought exotic bird specimens back to their own lands.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, European naturalists increasingly included descriptions of
American birds in their writings. As exploration and colonization of the Americas occurred
rapidly in the 17th and 18th centuries, a large number of accounts and preserved specimens
of birds found their way into European collections, particularly in France, Spain, and
Classification schemes devised by European ornithologists took into account information
gleaned from American specimens and observations. Thus a comprehensive historical book
collection in North American ornithology, such as the Hill Collection, logically includes
a substantial amount of literature published in Europe.
Online guide developed from:
Ornithology Collections in the Libraries at Cornell University: A Descriptive Guide
Revised Edition, 1999
Ithaca, New York
© 1999 Cornell University Library
Webpage last revised: 6/10/99 by jfc & clsb.