Florence Augusta Merriam Bailey

Florence Augusta Merriam Bailey

name = Florence Augusta Merriam Bailey

image_width =
caption = Florence Merriam, 1904, Portrait from The Condor
birth_date = birth date|1863|8|8|mf=y
birth_place = Locust Grove, New York
death_date = death date and age|1948|9|22|1863|8|8|mf=y
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citizenship =
nationality = USA
ethnicity =
field = Ornithology
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prizes = Brewster Medal
religion =
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Florence Augusta Merriam Bailey (August 8, 1863 - September 22, 1948) was an American ornithologist and nature writer. She was born in Locust Grove, New York. The third child in her family, she was the younger sister of Clinton Hart Merriam.

Life and work

Bailey grew up at her family's estate, "Homewood", which had a lot of space for the study of natural history. She was encouraged in her interest in nature by her brother as well as her father. Her father was interested in scientific matters and was in correspondence with John Muir after he had met him at Yosemite in the summer of 1871.Paul H. Oehser, “In Memoriam: Florence Merriam Bailey,” Auk 69(1952): 26. [http://elibrary.unm.edu/sora/Auk/v069n01/p0019-p0026.pdf] ] Bailey studied at a private school in Utica, New York. From 1882-1886, she studied at Smith College, from which she did not receive degree until she was given an honorary one in 1921. She started observing bird behavior at a time when most bird study was based on collections and skins. By 1885, she began to write articles focusing on protecting birds. It was then custom to wear bird feathers on hats. Bailey was dedicated to telling and showing people about the value of bird life. Finally a bill was passed by Congress making the interstate shipping of birds illegal. This was a first step in stopping the slaughter and decreasing the number of victims, especially among seabirds such as pelicans and grebes. Eventually the laws, changing styles, and continued education stopped the killing of birds for hat decoration and clothing.

Her introduction of a birdwatching field guide, aimed at living birds, is considered the first in the tradition of modern bird guides. She wrote the first of these at the age of 26, initially as a series of notes in the "Audubon Magazine" and later as books. [Barrow, Mark. 1998. A Passion for Birds. Princeton. p. 156-157] In December 1899, she married Vernon Bailey, a pioneering naturalist who worked with her brother in the United States Bureau of Biological Survey. The naturalist couple traveled widely and they were together responsible for encouraging many youngsters take up studies in natural history.

Bailey became the first woman associate member of the American Ornithologists' Union in 1885, its first woman fellow in 1929, and the first woman recipient of its Brewster Medal in 1931, awarded for "Birds of New Mexico". She was a founding member of the Audubon Society of the District of Columbia and frequently led its classes in basic ornithology. Her last major written work was "Among the Birds in the Grand Canyon National Park", published by the National Park Service in 1939. A subspecies of California Mountain Chickadee was named "Parus gambeli baileyae" in her honor in 1908.

She died in Washington, D.C., on September 22 1948.


* "Birds of Village and Field" , cr 1898, pub. Houghton, Mifflin & Co, New York & Boston;
* "Birds Through An Opera Glass" Riverside Library for Young People, pub. Houghton, Mifflin & Co, New York & Boston;
* "My Summer In A Mormon Village" pub. Houghton, Mifflin & Co, New York & Boston;
* "Handbook of Birds of The Western United States" , pub. Houghton, Mifflin & Co, New York & Boston.

Further reading

*Kofalk, Harriet, "No Woman Tenderfoot: Florence Merriam Bailey, Pioneer Naturalist", 1989, Texas A&M University Press ISBN 0890963789


External links

* [http://www.northnet.org/stlawrenceaauw/bailey.htm biography]
* [http://www.archive.org/details/birdsthroughoper00bailrich Birds through an Opera Glass (1889)]
* [http://www.archive.org/details/birdsofvillagefi00bailrich Birds of village and field: a bird book for beginners (1898)]
* [http://elibrary.unm.edu/sora/Condor/files/issues/v006n05/p0137-p0137.pdf The Condor, 1904]

NAME= Merriam Bailey, Florence Augusta
SHORT DESCRIPTION=American ornithologist
DATE OF BIRTH= August 8, 1863
PLACE OF BIRTH= Locust Grove, New York
DATE OF DEATH= September 22, 1948

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