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Francis Lee Jaques field diaries and sketchbooks

Identifier: Mss .J37

Scope and Contents

The collection includes eight volumes of field diaries and sketchbooks by Francis Lee Jaques done on scientific expeditions for the American Museum of Natural History from 1925-1935. Each notebook contains drawings, particularly birds. The drawings include comments on wild life and "coded" and are generally chronological, although some the notebooks may begin at the front or back or both. Barro Colorado Expedition (Panama). (One sketchbook.) This book, covering 1925-1926, contains mainly sketches. The scenes of Bahamas and the Caribbean exemplify his "coded" sketches -- conveying color, light, time of day, camera exposure. He notes some expenses, lumber, and measurements. In the trip to Panama and Barro Colorado Island, Jaques collected materials and created artwork to support the Barro Colorado Bird Group diorama for the Birds of the World exhibition hall. Stoll-McCracken Siberian-Arctic Expedition. (Two diaries.) Written between April and October 1928, these journals contain dense reports about the voyage and are nearly full. Toward the end of the second diary, Jaques writes on travel at an early age in Kansas and Nebraska. Various names and addresses comprise its final pages. For almost half a year, the travelers explored Alaska and the Arctic region, including the Aleutian Islands and Bering Strait Islands, onboard the Morrissey, for dioramas in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life. The diaries contain some specific notes on material for bird groups. North America Fieldwork. (Two diaries.) These field books cover December 1929-February 1930. The first starts at the front and the back. Both are about half full. Jaques reported on birds by the Illinois River and in Louisiana, South Carolina (especially Charleston), and North Carolina. Templeton Crocker Pacific Expedition. (Two diaries, one small sketchbook.) Jaques named this book the Junior Log of the Zaca. Topics he reported on include birds observed, skinning of birds, and his artwork (folder 6). Some sections of the second diary, titled Yacht Zaca, October 9, 1934-March 22, 1935, directly relate to the Whitney Memorial Hall of Pacific Bird Life. It contains notes by James Paul Chapin and Jaques on habitat groups, with sections on: Nuku Hiva Group (Marquesas Islands), Tuamotu Bird Group (Hao Island), Chincha Island Bird Group, and Galapagos Bird Group (Conway Bay, Indefatigable Island). Jaques wrote about the hibiscus, guava tree, grass and referred to drawings, oil sketches, photographs, and shipments of materials (folder 7). The small sketchbook, circa September 1934-February 3, 1935, contains drawings of birds in flight (in the Pacific, near Rapu Rapu Island, Pitcairn Island, etc.), with notes on flight pattern, coloring, etc. This book is about a quarter full (folder 8).


  • 1925-1935



Please contact Special Collections; materials are sometimes restricted.

Biographical Note

Francis Lee Jaques (28 September 1887-24 July 1969), also known as Lee Jaques, began his career as a self-taught artist depicting wildlife and outdoor scenes. He is celebrated for his diorama and habitat paintings at the American Museum of Natural History, notably the Whitney Memorial Hall of Pacific Bird Life. Jaques worked at the Museum from August 1924 to March 1957. He joined the Department of Preparation as a staff artist, painting the dome in the Birds of the World Hall. For a brief period, he served as interim head of the Exhibitions Department. His last background painting, for the Glacier Park Timberline group, was finished in 1954. Jaques' body of work for the Museum includes eighty painted backdrops, execution of the Whitney Memorial Hall, completed in the 1950s, and illustration of colleagues' books, such as Robert Cushman Murphy's Oceanic birds of South America (1936). In 1927, Jaques married Florence Page, who became a writer. The couple traveled frequently and collaborated on books (Canoe country, 1938, The geese fly high, 1939, and others), winning an award in 1946. Florence accompanied her husband on some AMNH expeditions, at times collecting materials, and painted small areas of his backgrounds. Jaques created art for other natural history institutions, including the James Ford Bell Museum of Natural History in Minnesota. He illustrated numerous books and magazines, and in 1966 began writing an autobiography. In 1969, the artist died of pulmonary embolism in St. Paul, Minnesota. Florence's biography on her husband was published in 1973.


0.5 Linear Foot (1 box)

Language of Materials



Francis Lee Jaques (28 September 1887-24 July 1969), also known as Lee Jaques, is celebrated for his diorama paintings at the American Museum of Natural History, executed during the early and mid-twentieth century. A frequent collaborator with Museum curator and ornithologist Frank M. Chapman (1864-1945), the artist is especially associated with the Whitney Memorial Hall of Pacific Bird Life (that was co-designed with Robert Cushman Murphy, Museum curator and ornithologist). This collection of field diaries and sketchbooks documents much of the artist’s expeditional work during 1925-1935. Francis Lee Jaques was part of the scientific staff, and his contributions toward the Museum’s permanent exhibitions included site selection, collection of materials, taxidermy, and artwork.


Jaques’s field books were arranged in chronological order following their donation to the Library.


Good overall. Mostly intact bindings, but researchers might prefer support for some of the books. Little fading or smudging of pencil. A few pages stick together or bear mark of artists’ materials.

Source of Acquisition

Received from Dorothy Morey, 15 February 2013.

Related Materials

Jaques’s Writings and Select Artwork

Francis Lee Jaques by Francis Lee Jaques. In Special Collections, Rare Books Collection. Local call number: 57-D. A surrogate of the 1991 version of Jaques’s autobiography, which is unpublished. His recollections included travel (Peru, Bahamas, Panama), expeditions (Stoll- McCracken, Templeton Crocker Pacific), and staff and permanent halls of the Museum. For access to all Special Collections materials, please contact the Special Collections librarian in advance (by telephone or email at 212-769-5420, [email protected]).

Paintings and drawings, among them Gull from Bering Island Group (No. 1195) and Taipee Valley, Nuka Hiva Island, Marquesas (No. 1206). Local call numbers: Art Surveys Numbers 1193-1213.

Sketches for Walrus Group, 1928 (numbers 1-3). In Special Collections, Rare Folio. Local call numbers: RF-99-B. (See A 1928 drawing by Jaques dates to the Stoll McCracken Expedition.

Big Trees. In Special Collections. Local call number: Art cart-middle shelf. An oil study for the artist’s Redwood Forest Group in the Forestry Hall, circa 1951.

Museum Exhibitions and Departmental History

American Museum of Natural History, Department of Preparation and Installation: Diorama and Hall construction, 1919-1962. Call number: DR104.

James L. Clark visual resources and working files. This collection has photographs, handwritten notes, drawings, and other material relating to exhibitions for the American Museum of Natural History, among them the Whitney Hall of Birds. Call numbers: PPC.C532, and PPC .C533.

Museum Expeditions

Stoll-McCracken Siberian-Arctic Expedition

Francis Lee Jaques Stoll-McCracken Expedition field catalog, 1928. In Ornithology Department: ORN 107. (Please contact the Special Collections librarian in advance by telephone or email: 212-769-5420, [email protected].)

Edward M. Weyer, Jr. collection, circa 1924-1979. In Special Collections. Local call number: Mss .W449. This includes the archaeologist’s field notes from the Stoll-McCracken Expedition (1928).

Templeton Crocker Pacific Expedition

Field photographs, 1934-1935, by Toshio Asaeda and James Paul Chapin. This collection includes labeled photographs. OCLC number: 155516726.

Scientific Expedition to the South Pacific in the Yacht Zaca (videorecording). By Toshio Asaeda, photographer. In Special Collections. Local call number: Film Collection no. 160.

Physical Description

Eight bound journals of varied sizes, containing handwritten entries (generally in script) and sketches in pencil and ink.

Francis Lee Jaques field diaries and sketchbooks, 1925-1935
Luise Trabucchi
June 2015
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation provided support to make this finding aid available in ArchivesSpace (2016-2017). Finding aid created with support from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Hidden Collections grant, 2012.

Repository Details

Part of the Museum Archives at the Gottesman Research Library Repository

American Museum of Natural History
200 Central Park West
New York NY 10024 USA
(212) 769-5420