Nuttall Ornithological Club

The Nuttall Ornithological Club is the oldest ornithology organization in the United States.[1][2]

Nuttall Ornithological Club
TypeNonprofit organization
Bird Conservation
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts
AffiliationsAmerican Ornithologists' Union
Harvard University


The club initially was a small informal group of William Brewster's childhood friends, all of whom shared his interest in ornithology. These friends included Daniel Chester French, Ruthven Deane and Henry Henshaw. In 1872, Henshaw suggested that the group meet on a regular weekly schedule at Brewster's house in Cambridge, Massachusetts.[3] On November 17, 1873 the group, which had expanded to include Henry Augustus Purdie, William Earl Dodge Scott, Francis P. Atkinson, Harry Balch Bailey, Ernest Ingersoll, and Walter Woodman, met to formally establish the first American ornithological club.[4] They named their club after the botanist and zoologist Thomas Nuttall[1][5][6] who published the first field guide for North American birds, Manual of the Ornithology of the United States and of Canada (1832).

By 1876 the club determined to publish the Bulletin of the Nuttall Ornithological Club, which was the first purely ornithological journal, under the joint editorship of Charles Johnson Maynard and Henry Augustus Purdie. However, after one issue, Maynard and Purdie were removed as editors and Joel Asaph Allen, who had recently joined the club, became the sole editor-in-chief.[4]

Notable MembersEdit

H. M. Spelman, Owen Durfee, N. A. Francis, G. C. Deane, A. C. Bent, R. H. Howe, Jr., Walter Deane, C. F. Batchelder, F. H. Allen, William Brewster, G. M. Allen, and J. D. Sornborger; 1902

Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States, was a member of the club,[7] one of only a few presidents who published papers in peer reviewed scientific journals.[8] Roger Tory Peterson, author of the Peterson field guides.[1]


  • 1876-1883 - Bulletin of the Nuttall Ornithological Club (became The Auk in 1883[2])
  • Quarterly bulletin of the Nuttall Ornithological Club
  • Memoirs of the Nuttall Ornithological Club


  1. ^ a b c Dean, Cornelia (November 28, 2011). "A Venerable Birding Club, at an Epicenter of All Things Feathered". The New York Times.
  2. ^ a b "A History of the Club". Nuttall Ornithological Club.
  3. ^ Batchelder, Charles. Nuttall Ornithological Club, 1873-1919. Cambridge, 1937.
  4. ^ a b Davis, William E. History of the Nuttall Ornithological Club, 1873-1986. Cambridge, 1987
  5. ^ Emmet, Alan (November–December 2007). "William Brewster - Brief life of a bird-lover: 1851-1919". Harvard Magazine.
  6. ^ Novak, Donna (June 30, 2005). "IF YOU HAVE BIRDS ON THE BRAIN". The Boston Globe via HighBeam Research. Archived from the original on November 6, 2013. ... William Brewster, cofounder of the Nuttall Ornithological Club in 1873, which spawned all of the nation's birding associations. (subscription required)
  7. ^ Mayer, Greg (29 November 2011). "Nuttall Club in the New York Times". Retrieved 5 May 2012.
  8. ^ Roosevelt, Theodore (1911), "Revealing and concealing coloration in birds and mammals", Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, 30: 120–221

External linksEdit