Charles B. Cory

Charles Barney Cory (January 31, 1857 – July 31, 1921) was an American ornithologist and golfer.

Charles Barney Cory.


Cory was born in Boston. His father had made a fortune from a large import business, ensuring that his son never had to work. At the age of sixteen Cory developed an interest in ornithology and began a skin collection. Due to his ability to travel anywhere he wished, this soon became the best collection of birds of the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico in existence.

In February 1876, the nineteen year old Cory was elected a member of Nuttall Ornithological Club, America's first ornithological organization. It was here that he met the leading ornithologists of Massachusetts at the time, such as William Brewster, Henry Henshaw, Ruthven Deane, Charles Johnson Maynard, with Joel Asaph Allen soon to join as well.[1]

Starting in 1876, he briefly attended Harvard and the Boston University School of Law but soon left to continue his travelling. In 1877, he went collecting in Florida, followed by a trip to the Magdalen Islands in 1878, and another to the Bahamas the next year. In 1880, he collected in Europe, and then he returned to the West Indies in 1881.[1]

In 1883, he was one of the forty-eight ornithologists invited to become founders of the American Ornithologists' Union and one of those who attended the founding convention in New York City.[2] The next year he visited the Dakota Territory and Montana with his friend, Martin A. Ryerson, to collect specimen. The rest of the 1880s saw him in Cuba, Mexico, and Canada.[1] In 1887, Cory was made the curator of birds at the Boston Society of Natural History.

In 1882, Cory purchased Great Island in West Yarmouth, Massachusetts as a summer retreat and game preserve, and set about the restoration of its Point Gammon Light as an ornithological observatory.[3][4][5] While summering there on Cape Cod, Cory entertained dignitaries such as President Grover Cleveland,[6] and frequently sponsored community sporting and cultural events.[7][8][9] From 1888 to 1892, he and friend Charles Richard Crane funded and played on the Hyannis town team in what is now the Cape Cod Baseball League. At Cory and Crane's expense, various well-known professional and amateur players were brought in to play alongside the Hyannis locals. In 1888, Cory outfitted his club in "suits which were of the best white flannel and red stockings,"[10] and secured the services of pitcher Dick Conway and catcher Mert Hackett, both formerly of the major league Boston Beaneaters.[11][12] In 1889, Cory brought back Hackett, and also enlisted Barney Gilligan, who had played for the 1884 major league champion Providence Grays.[13][14][15] After the 1891 season, Cory published an extended ode to his ballclub in the style of Ernest Thayer's Casey at the Bat.[16]

When Cory's collection of 19,000 bird specimens became too large to keep in his house he donated them to The Field Museum in Chicago, and he was given the position of Curator of Ornithology. Cory's collection of 600 ornithological volumes were purchased by Edward E. Ayer in 1894, and in turn donated to the museum.[17] Cory lost his entire fortune in 1906, and took a salaried position at the museum as Curator of Zoology, remaining there for the rest of his life. Cory made routine collecting trips in Florida and the West Indies. He sometimes financed trips for other naturalists.

Cory was a director in many corporations.[18]

Cory wrote many books, including The Birds of Haiti and San Domingo (1885), The Birds of the West Indies (1889) and The Birds of Illinois and Wisconsin (1909). His last major work was the four-part Catalogue of the Birds of the Americas, which was completed after his death by Carl Edward Hellmayr.

Cory was the first person to describe Cory's shearwater as a species. It had previously been described by Giovanni Antonio Scopoli in 1769, but he had believed it to be a race of another shearwater.

Cory participated in the 1904 Summer Olympics as a golfer. He competed in the individual event but did not finish.[19]



  1. ^ a b c Osgood, Wilfred H. (April 1922). "In Memoriam: Charles Barney Cory"" (PDF). The Auk. 39 (2): 151–166.
  2. ^ "The American Ornithologists' Union". Bulletin of the Nuttall Ornithological Club. 8 (4): 221–226. October 1883.
  3. ^ "Hyannis". Yarmouth Register. Massachusetts. April 28, 1883. p. 1.
  4. ^ Crist, Bainbridge (October 27, 1977). "Generations of gentle living on Great Island, West Yarmouth". Yarmouth Register. Massachusetts. pp. S1, S2, S3.
  5. ^ Setterlund, Christopher (December 31, 2018). "The Story of Point Gammon Lighthouse". Retrieved January 9, 2020.
  6. ^ Oliver, Duncan (August 24, 2017). "Presidents who visited Cape Cod". Yarmouth Register. Massachusetts. pp. A13.
  7. ^ Baker, Stuart (July 19, 2007). "Great Island: Sportsmen's Paradise". Yarmouth Register. Massachusetts. p. 15.
  8. ^ "Hyannis Chips". Barnstable Patriot. Massachusetts. October 30, 1883. p. 3.
  9. ^ "Cory's Benefit Concert". Barnstable Patriot. Massachusetts. April 22, 1884. p. 2.
  10. ^ "Hyannis". Yarmouth Register. Massachusetts. July 7, 1888. p. 1.
  11. ^ "Base Ball". Barnstable Patriot. Massachusetts. July 3, 1888. p. 2.
  12. ^ "Thanks, Mr. Corey". Yarmouth Register. Massachusetts. July 7, 1888. p. 1.
  13. ^ "Base Ball at Hyannis". Yarmouth Register. Massachusetts. June 29, 1889. p. 1.
  14. ^ "Base Ball at Hyannis". Barnstable Patriot. Massachusetts. July 2, 1889. p. 2.
  15. ^ "Successful Termination of the Series of Ball Games at Hyannis". Yarmouth Register. Massachusetts. July 6, 1889. p. 4.
  16. ^ Cory, Charles B. (September 29, 1891). "How Mullens Won the Game". Barnstable Patriot. Massachusetts. p. 2.
  17. ^ "History: Edward E. Ayer". Library Research & Collections. Field Museum of Natural History. 2007. Archived from the original on August 29, 2008. Retrieved May 27, 2008.
  18. ^ Rines, George Edwin, ed. (1920). "Cory, Charles Barney" . Encyclopedia Americana.
  19. ^ "Charles B. Cory". Olympedia. Retrieved July 4, 2020.


Further readingEdit

  • "Charles B. Cory," in Tom Taylor and Michael Taylor, Aves: A Survey of the Literature of Neotropical Ornithology, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Libraries, 2011.

External linksEdit