Bird Egg Collection

One of the most amazing of the holdings of The Franklin County Historical Association is its bird egg collection. Victorian Americans collected bird eggs as a popular hobby. The practice of collecting bird eggs as a hobby was long ago outlawed through legislation designed to protect threatened bird populations. By 1914, the practice had ceased, although private collections obtained before prohibition were allowed.

Manton and Dorothy Nations of Georgetown, Texas, has given our association a collection of some 200 bird eggs; these eggs were collected during the 1880's and acquired by A.W. Nations, father of Manton Nations, in the 1930's. Among the eggs are those of the Passenger Pigeon, Carolina Paroquet, and Heath Hen, all species which had become extinct in the early part of the 2oth century. Of more interest, there are only 162 documented Passenger Pigeon Eggs and 37 documented Carolina Paroquet eggs. A few museums hold those eggs; suddenly, we are in the national news, and our holdings are added to the documented numbers.

Mr. and Mrs. Nations also gave us a collection of 47 boxes of mounted butterflies which were collected by A.W. Nations in the 1930's. Many of the butterflies are subspecies which are now extinct; most were collected in Texas.

On December 23, 2006, members of the Franklin County Historical Association and representatives of universities and state agencies were able to preview the collection prior to a lecture and "Owl Prowl" outing presented by Clifford Shackelford, chief ornithologist for nongame birds for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The bird egg collection is available for viewing on Saturdays from 10am-2pm. For more information, or an appointment to see the collection at other times, call 903-597-4760. FCHA office hours are 9am-3pm, Tuesdays through Friday. You may also send an email inquiry to fchadirector@gmail.com

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