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Ralph S. Palmer Collection

Identifier: SpC MS 1063

Scope and Contents

The collection contains research material and writings of Ralph S. Palmer, a professor and naturalist. It includes material related to Manly Hardy and his daughter Fannie Hardy Eckstorm, as well as an extensive reprint collection of publications in natural history and zoology. Included are notes, articles, clippings, photographs, reprints, ledgers, typescripts, illustrations, card indexes, and correspondence of Ralph S. Palmer, Jonathan Titcomb Hardy, Manly Hardy, Fannie Hardy Eckstorm, and Walter M. Hardy. Included also is a small collection of letters written in 1863 by John A. Miller at the state prison in Thomaston, Maine, to his mother. Their relation to the rest of the collection is unclear. The collection also includes correspondence, 1930-1943, between Palmer and Arthur H. Norton as well as biographical and bibliographical information about Norton


  • Creation: 1842-2002
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1880-1950

Restrictions on Access

Collection kept at Fogler Library's offsite storage facility. One week's notice required for retrieval.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Information on literary rights available in the repository.

Biographical Note : Ralph S. Palmer

Ralph Simon Palmer was born in Richmond, Maine, on June 13, 1914, the son of George Luther Palmer and Marion Brown Holmes Palmer. The Palmer family later moved to Brunswick, Maine, where Ralph attended school, graduating from high school there in 1932. He entered the University of Maine in 1933, where he majored in zoology and graduated in 1937. He entered Cornell University in 1937 and received his Ph.D. in 1940. He taught zoology at Vassar College and in 1949 was appointed a senior scientist on the staff of the New York State Museum and State Science Service. He wrote several books as well as numerous papers and articles on ornithology and mammalogy. He was also the author and editor of the five-volume Handbook of North American Birds series, the first volume of which was published in 1972. In 1978 he was appointed a research associate of the Smithsonian Institution. After his retirement he moved to Tenants Harbor, Maine. In 1981 he was appointed a faculty associate in zoology and forest resources at the University of Maine in Orono. He was married twice: to Eunice Nelson Palmer and to Nancy R. Palmer. He had three children, sons Keith and Douglas and daughter Shirley Palmer Richardson. He died on July 21, 2003. In 1942 Dr. Palmer began a correspondence with Fannie Hardy Eckstorm, expressing in his first letter to her his interest in the natural history of Maine in general and in her father Manly Hardy in particular. He continued to do research and collect material on Manly Hardy for most of the rest of his life, intending to publish a biography of Hardy as a result. Although a draft of the biography appears in the collection, it was never published.

Biographical Note : Manly Hardy

Manly Hardy was born on November 11, 1832, in Hampden, Maine, the only child of Jonathan Titcomb Hardy and Catherine Sears Atwood Hardy. The family moved to Brewer, Maine, when Manly was four, and he remained there for the rest of his life. He became a fur buyer and dealer, maintaining one of the most extensive fur businesses in Maine. He also spent much time in the woods of Maine, acquiring great knowledge of woods lore and spending time with other men familiar with the wilderness. In 1861 he was the assistant naturalist on the Maine State Scientific Survey. He began to mount birds and assembled a collection of some 3,300 U.S. birds. He also wrote extensively about the Maine woods, Indians, and mammals. He married Emmeline Freeman Wheeler on December 24, 1862. They had six children: Fannie Hardy Eckstorm, Catherine Atwood Hardy Bates, Annie Eliza Hardy Eckstorm, Manly Willis Hardy, who lived less than two years, and twins Charlotte W. Hardy and Walter M. Hardy. Manly Hardy died on December 9, 1910.

Biographical Note : Fannie Hardy Eckstorm

Fannie Hardy Eckstorm, naturalist, historian, folklorist, and writer, was born on June 18, 1865, in Brewer, Maine. She attended Bangor High School, Abbott Academy in Andover, Mass., and graduated from Smith College in 1888. In 1893 she married Rev. Jacob A. Eckstorm of Chicago. They lived in Oregon for a short time and then moved to Providence, R.I., staying there until Jacob Eckstorm's death in 1899. In 1900 she returned to Brewer with her two children and lived there for the rest of her life. She had made many trips to the woods with her father before her marriage, learning from him, meeting lumbermen, hunters and Indians, and keeping journals of her observations. Her interests included Indians and their crafts and language, birds, Maine ballads and folklore. She wrote extensively. She died on December 31, 1946. She had two children: Katharine Hardy Eckstorm, who died in 1901, and Paul Eckstorm, who died in 1943.

Biographical Note : Walter M. Hardy

Walter M. Hardy, artist, writer, and apple grower, and son of Manly Hardy, was born in Brewer on February 9, 1877. He graduated from Bangor High School in 1896 and spent a year at the University of Maine before transferring to the Art Students League in New York City. After completing courses there he also studied in Paris, England, and Italy. He was interested in birds and other wildlife and after his return to the U.S. did illustrations of birds and animals for various publications. He also illustrated some of the articles written by his father. In 1911 he bought a farm in Holden, Maine, where he planted a large apple orchard. He raised and sold apples there until his death on September 17, 1933.

Biographical Note : Jonathan Titcomb Hardy

Jonathan Titcomb Hardy was born about 1805. He was the father of Manly Hardy and the grandfather of Fannie Hardy Eckstorm.


4 cubic feet (5 boxes)

170 linear feet (440 boxes of reprints)

Language of Materials



The collection is arranged in four series: I. Materials for a biography of Manly Hardy, II. Reprint collection, III. Miscellaneous photographs, and IV. Materials on Arthur H. Norton. Series I is further divided into six sub-series.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Ralph S. Palmer in 2000, 2002 and 2003; additional materials given by the Palmer family in 2004.

Related Materials

Researchers may also want to consult the Fannie Hardy Eckstorm Papers (MS 158) owned by Fogler Library, as well as Manly Hardy (1832-1910): the life and writing of a Maine fur-buyer, hunter, and naturalist, compiled and introduced by William B. Krohn and published by the Maine Folklife Center in 2005.

Guide to the Ralph S. Palmer Collection
Box And Folder List Available
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for uncoded script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Raymond H. Fogler Library Special Collections Repository

5729 Raymond H. Fogler Library
University of Maine
Orono ME 04469-5729 United States