Stanton Bird Club records
Scope and Content Note
This collection documents the origin and growth of the Stanton Bird Club from 1919 to the present. Among the types of material included are financial records including treasurer's reports, meeting minutes, correspondence, photographs, audio and visual materials, publications including the Chickadee Chronicle and the Program and Field Trips brochure (calendar of activities), news clippings, and several Scrapbooks, containing news clippings, meeting minutes and other material chronicling the club's history, growth, programs and activities. The collection also conains a number of Thorncrag related research papers done by Bates College students and others. Among them is a thesis on the land use history of Thorncrag by Ryan Williamson, Bates 2001.
- Stanton Bird Club (Organization)
Preservation photocopies are available for part of the collection. Due to their fragile condition, access to some of the original documents is restricted based on the discretion of the archives staff.
The collection is the physical property of Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library. Bates College holds literary rights only for material created by College personnel working on official behalf of the College, or for material which was given to the College with such rights specifically assigned. For all other material, literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. Researchers are responsible for obtaining permission from rights holders for publication or other purposes that exceed fair use.
On February 4, 1919, members of the Lewiston-Auburn, Maine community held the first official meeting of the Stanton Bird Club, naming the club after Jonathan Young Stanton, professor of Greek and Latin at Bates College, who had passed away the previous year (see Biographical Note below).
The mission of the club, as put forth in the club's charter, was to: "increase and protect wild birds, stimulate interest in bird life, establish a model bird sanctuary, and to foster and encourage research work in all branches of natural sciences."
The Thorncrag Nature Sanctuary, managed by the bird club, owes its existence to an early benefactor, Dr. Alfred W. Anthony. Anthony had purchased portions of what is now the sanctuary as a place to ride his horses, and he built a number of bridle paths which still serve today as walking paths. Anthony gradually deeded land to the club with the stipulation that it be maintained as a bird sanctuary. In 1929, the club also acquired the 160-acre Woodbury Sanctuary in nearby Monmouth; another 241 acres was added to Woodbury in 2010 when CMP deeded the acreage in exchange for an easement. In 1930 the club acquired the 2-acre Deacon Davis Sanctuary in Lewiston. The club still owns and manages these properties.
For its first forty years, the Stanton Bird Club was an active part of the Lewiston community. It held regular bird walks, invited speakers to monthly meetings, hosted summer social gatherings and picnics at Thorncrag, sponsored tree plantings on the Bates College campus, and organized a variety of building projects at the sanctuary. The Lewiston Sun Journal published regular columns written by active bird club members Daisy Dill Norton and Mabel Merrill. Other columns and articles regularly featured bird club activities. The community was well informed of the club's activities and the attendance at meetings and the activities reflected this.
As the years passed, the number of activities sponsored by the club waned and, without an influx of new members, the club fell behind on the repairs and maintenance necessary for Thorncrag. The club's 50th anniversary booklet, published in 1969, provides a good documentation of the bird club up until that time. Its publication also provided a brief impetus for renewed activities for the club. Soon after the publication of this booklet, the club began to clean up Thorncrag, and in the 1970s, the "Thorncrag Forest Rangers," a group of teenage boys, worked in the sanctuary for several summers maintaining the trails. But membership still declined and the club's activities diminished; it was not long before Thorncrag deteriorated again.
In the early 1980s, the club's membership began to grow. At that time the club had an opportunity to sell the sanctuary property but instead chose to begin a concerted and sustained effort to rebuild an active club with a variety of activities focused at Thorncrag. The Thorncrag Sanctuary Committee was formed and charged with the duty of returning Thorncrag to a wildlife refuge with public access so the community could enjoy the area. Truckloads of trash were removed and the club began to make plans to educate the community about the sanctuary as a place to enjoy and understand the wildlife within the city limits of Lewiston. A cost-sharing grant from the federal government allowed the club to fix the badly gullied trails and build new ones. Susan Hayward, the environmental educator of the club, began to work cooperatively with the Lewiston 4th grade teachers to design programs in which students were able to use Thorncrag as an integral component of their science curriculum. The club succeeded in implementing educational programs for adults and for other organizations.
In 1995, the bird club purchased the Michaud Farm adding approximately 80 acres to Thorncrag. This enlarged the sanctuary to 310 acres, providing a needed buffer from encroaching development and expanding the habitat diversity of the sanctuary. The club began to participate again in the annual Christmas Bird Count-a nationwide event sponsored by the Audubon Society to obtain an accurate national census of the birds. And "Community Day" was begun to share the richness of Thorncrag with the public in a family-oriented event. In 1989 these efforts were recognized when the club was given a "Take Pride in America" award.
Currently, the club intends to expand its land holdings in order to provide much needed habitat for local wildlife, and to build a nature center that would augment the sanctuary's use as an educational facility.
The Stanton Bird Club was named after Jonathan Young Stanton, professor of Greek and Latin Languages at Bates College from 1865 until 1906. Stanton was a major influence in the formative years of the college and played a vital role in establishing some of the longstanding traditions at Bates, including debate. Although Stanton retired in 1906, he continued to teach his ornithology classes. Ornithology was a requirement for sophomores from 1873 to 1898 and for freshmen from 1898 to 1918. Although ornithology was dropped from the curriculum when Stanton died in 1918, the Stanton Bird Walk, later the Stanton Ride, continued into the 1960s. Stanton's interest in ornithology was legendary. His library contained many ornithology and natural history books which are now part of the Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library. Stanton also served as the unofficial librarian of the college from 1865 until 1895 when the college hired its first librarian, Caroline Woodman.
Another important figure in the history of the bird club is Alfred Williams Anthony, who donated 45 acres of land to the club in 1922. Anthony was principal of the Cobb Divinity School for many years, and wrote "Bates College and Its Background," published in 1936.
24.5 Linear Feet
Language of Materials
The collection is composed of a variety of material which documents the founding of the Stanton Bird Club in 1919 and chronicles its history, growth, meetings, programs and activities to the present.
Organization and Arrangement
The collection is organized into 16 series.
Acquisition and Custody Information
Gift of the Stanton Bird Club, 1977, 2005. Accession No.: 99-003, 2009-119, 20.
Processed by Alex Kelner, Spring 2002.
Processed by Andrew Walsh, Summer and Fall 2002.
Additional arrangement and description by Kurt Kuss, Special Collections Librarian, Fall 2002.
Reprocessed by Elaine Ardia, 2007.
- Guide to the Stanton Bird Club records, 1918-ongoing
- Edited Full Draft
- Elaine Ardia
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note
- Description is in: English
- Edition statement