T. Martin Trippe Journals


Date: 1865-1871 | Size: 2 Volumes, 655 p.


T. Martin Trippe was an avid amateur ornithologist from Orange, New Jersey, who spent the majority of his free time as a teenager and young man exploring the woods and observing, shooting, and collecting birds. After graduating from New York University with a degree in engineering in 1869, Trippe worked in various positions for the Iowa Central, Northern Pacific, and Albia, Knoxville, and Des Moines Railroads, continuing to devote his spare time in the interests of ornithology.

The two surviving volumes of Trippe's journals document his ornithological and natural historical observations between 1865 and 1871, including meticulously detailed records of the avifauna (and to lesser degree other fauna) in central New Jersey, central Iowa, and southern Minnesota. They include detailed, and Trippe provided year-end taxonomic and meteorological indexes for 1869, 1870, and 1871.

Background note

Scope and content

Martin Trippe's surviving scientific journals are all that remain to document the activities of an enthusiastic amateur ornithologist from New Jersey. Kept with an almost religious zeal for six years straddling the date of Trippe's graduation from New York University in 1869, the journals offer a glimpse into the mental world of a mid-Victorian amateur scientist and insight into the transformations in natural historical research and practice.

A clear and agile writer, Trippe was an extraoridarily eager naturalist and meticulous recorder, and his notes provide excellent documentation on the avifauna of central New Jersey, south central Iowa, and southern Minnesota in the years immediately following the Civil War, with sometimes extensive notes on the species, their dates of arrival and departure, their habits, habitat preference, and behavior. On occasion, he turns comparative, setting his observations off against those of more established naturalists, commenting critically upon Darwin, comparing Agassiz, Allen, and Audubon, and imagining how the environment has changed over the recent years, either through human intervention or environmental dynamism.

Trippe's ornithology is leavened with discussions of the mammalian fauna, the climate (particularly in Iowa and Minnesota), geography, the Indian and white populations, and other miscellaneous scientific matters. At the end of the years 1869, 1870, and 1871, he provided a convenient summary table of meteorological observations for the year, the dates of arrivals and departures of bird species, and miscellaneous observations.

Trippe was extremely ambitious in his scientific aims, faithful to his records, and his use of both scientific and popular names marks him both as a relatively advanced student of birds. He began keeping his scientific journal in August 1865, writing in unbound fascicles, and later sewing them into bindings. The first volume, covering the years 1865-66, consists of one 25-page and four 60-page fascicles, each with separate enumeration; the second volume contains several fascicles with a single, continuous enumeration.

It is clear from the context of some his comments that other, earlier volumes might once have existed, but were lost in the fire that destroyed his family home in 1869. Originally, Trippe notes, his records ran as far back as 1862; the first attempt at a journal beginning in January 1863, but all records before August 1865 were either lost or destroyed. The volume for 1867-1868 survived the fire, but appears subsequently to have been lost. Those journals that did survive were soaked by firefighters in the blaze, and the warped and waterstained boards have subsquently been removed, and the journals rebound by the APS Conservation Department.

Laid into one of the volumes is a decorative band with the inscription, "Dear Willie."


Vol 1: 25, 60, 60, 60, 60p. (265p.), August 19, 1865-October 4, 1866

Vol. 2: 415p., January 30, 1869-December 28, 1871

Collection Information

Physical description

2 vols. (655p.)

2 vols. (655p.)


The Trippe Journals were acquired by the APS in April 1999 (1999-469ms).

Preferred citation

Cite as: T. Martin Trippe Journals, American Philosophical Society.

Processing information

Catalogued by rsc, 2001.

Conservation note

The Trippe journals were rebound in August 1999. The original boards were removed and are housed separately under the same call number.

Indexing Terms

Corporate Name(s)

  • Northern Pacific Railroad
  • Saint Paul Academy of Science (St. Paul, Minn.)

Geographic Name(s)

  • Iowa -- Description and travel
  • Long Island (N.Y.) -- Description and travel
  • Mauch Chunk (Pa.) -- Description and travel
  • Minnesota -- Description and travel
  • Niagara Falls (N.Y. and Ont.) -- Description and travel
  • Orange (N.J.) -- Description and travel
  • Saint Paul (Minn.) -- Description and travel

Personal Name(s)

  • Darwin, Charles, 1809-1882
  • Miller, Hugh, 1802-1856
  • Trippe, T. Martin, b. ca.1848


  • Auroras.
  • Birds -- Classification
  • Birds -- Migration
  • Bogs -- Minnesota
  • Brothers -- Death
  • Chippewa Indians
  • Christmas
  • Darwin, Charles Robert, 1809-1882. Variation of animals and plants under domestication
  • Deluge
  • Evolution (Biology)
  • Fathers -- Death
  • Fertilizer
  • Fires -- New Jersey
  • Fish showers
  • Lakes -- Minnesota
  • Mammals -- New Jersey
  • Meteorology -- Observations
  • Natural history -- Iowa
  • Natural history -- New Jersey
  • Natural history -- New York (State) -- Long Island
  • New Jersey -- Decription and travel
  • Ornithology -- Iowa
  • Ornithology -- Minnesota
  • Ornithology -- New Jersey
  • Plagiarism
  • Rabbits
  • Railroads
  • Railroads -- Iowa
  • Thunderstorms
  • Unemployment