Skip to main content

Roger Tory Peterson photographs

Identifier: 11-MWalB02729

Scope and Contents

The Roger Tory Peterson photographs collection consists of 90 wildlife photographs taken by Peterson. All the photographs depict various animals and scenes from nature, with the primary subject among them being birds. The photographs feature the animals in their natural habitats, from locales around the world. Spanning the world in locations from the Falkland Islands to Nova Scotia, animals depicted include the gelada baboon, capybara, and California sea lion, while birds depicted range from penguins to pelicans. ID numbers, location, title, and species name all largely come from the original Guerney’s auction catalogue.[Call number + Cage QL 31.P45 G83 2012]


  • undated


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research. Access to the collection is in accordance with the policies of the Robert D. Farber University Archives & Special Collections Department, Brandeis University. Please contact the department for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

Requests to reproduce or publish material from the collection should be directed to the Robert D. Farber University Archives & Special Collections Department, Brandeis University.

Biographical / Historical

Roger Tory Peterson was an American naturalist and ornithologist, and a leader of the environmental movement in the 20th century, for which he won a Presidential Medal of Freedom Award in 1980 and was nominated for two Nobel Peace Prizes. Peterson was born in Jamestown, New York on August 28, 1908. He began recording his field experiences early on, and in 1934 he published his seminal Guide to Birds, the first modern field guide that would become highly influential to bird and nature studies. It was the first field guide for “regular people” and was reprinted in several editions within the next few years. Peterson was known for the highly detailed drawings within his field guides; he drew every creature catalogued in his guides, and created paintings and prints of birds in addition to the field guides. Later in his career, he enjoyed travel, and wrote field guides about other animals and the places to which he traveled. Peterson began to fight against DDT use in the 1960s, after research completed by Rachel Carson and others fully convinced him of the chemical’s negative effects; he became a prominent figure in the fight for conservation, and continued monitoring bird populations affected by chemicals after DDT was banned in 1972. Just as Peterson influenced how wildlife and wildlife art were seen and used around the world, he also influenced and promoted the field of wildlife photography as a way to report on and observe the world. In addition to his own photographic work, as seen in this collection, he also was influential in founding the North American Nature Photography Association, the association of wildlife photographers, in 1993. Roger Tory Peterson died on July 28, 1996 in Old Lyme, Connecticut.


18 Linear Feet (9 oversize manuscript boxes (31.5" x 23.5"))

Language of Materials



Organized alphabetically by animal type name (i.e. light-mantled sooty albatross comes before bald eagle), followed by animal identifiers (crested caracara before striated caracara). Animals with the same name are then organized by ID number, which comes from the original Guernsey's auction catalog. [Call number: Cage + QL31.P45 G83 2012]

Acquisitions Note

Donated by Arlan Ettinger, April 2014.

Processing Information

Arranged by Britanny Joyce in March 2015. Updated by Matthew Chernick in June 2015.

Roger Tory Peterson photographs
Arranged by Britanny Joyce in March 2015. Updated by Matthew Chernick in June 2015.
March 2015
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Brandeis University Repository

415 South St.
Waltham MA

About Us

The Robert D. Farber University Archives & Special Collections Department at Brandeis University consists of two collecting units, the University Archives and Special Collections. University Archives documents the history and development of Brandeis University and its faculty, staff, students, and alumni. Special Collections features a broad array of unique primary source materials across a wide range of disciplines that support research, teaching and learning at Brandeis. Learn more about our collections