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Papers of David William Snow

 Single Item
MS. 15482
Held in our offsite storage facility

  • Request

Consists of:

  1. Miscellaneous letters to David Snow from Oliver L. Austin Jr., David Bannerman (four letters = Closed), C.W. Benson, Mary Wickham Bond, G.T. Corley Smith, E.J.H. Corner, Charles Elton, E.B. Ford, Edward S. Gruson, Gerald Lathbury, Ernst Mayr, R.E. Moreau, Laurens Sargent, Gordon Sheals (= Closed), Vesta Stresemann, John Terborgh, Nikolaas Tinbergen, and V.C. Wynne-Edwards. Some replies from David Snow are attached. A list is included showing the dates of each correspondent, 1957-1982
  2. Letters to David Snow regarding honorary memberships, medals, awards and Web of Adaptation, 1972-1982 (one letter = Closed)
  3. Letters regarding an obituary of R.C. Murphy, 1973
  4. Letters, notes, maps and data for a review paper on visible migration (see Ibis 1953). Includes additional data which was received at a later date (including letters from H.G. Alexander), 1950-1955
  5. 'List of all distant (10 miles +) recoveries of British Robins, Erithacis rubecula, received up to late 1965 (last date of recovery, 17.9.65) used in analysis published in British Birds', typescript, Feb 1966
  6. 'Climate and Geographical Variation in Birds', corrected typescript, 18 pages, n.d. [1950s?]
  7. 'The specific status of the Willow Tit', typescript, 4 pages, n.d. [1950s?]
  8. Exercise book of lecture notes with drawings, n.d. [1950s?]


  • Creation: 1950-1982


1 box

Language of Materials

  • English

Conditions Governing Access

Material of a sensitive personal or corporate nature is closed.

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. 15482].

Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.


MS. 15482

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 15482


Papers of David William Snow.

Biographical / Historical

David William Snow (30 Sep 1924–4 Feb 2009) was a celebrated English ornithologist born in Windermere, Westmorland.

He won a scholarship to Eton and started there in 1938 just before his 14th birthday. He won a scholarship to study classics at New College, Oxford but was called up to serve in the navy in April 1943 and served on several ships including destroyers, frigates, and sloops. After the end of World War II, he spent a year sailing through the Far East and to Australia. In 1946 he returned to Oxford and switched from classics to the study of zoology, earning a D.Phil degree in 1953.

In 1958, David married Barbara Kathleen Whitaker, who was the warden of Lundy Island. Barbara Snow was also a noted ornithologist and a geologist. From 1957 to 1961 the Snows worked for the New York Zoological Society at the society's research centre in Trinidad. Here they made detailed studies of the oilbirds (Steatornis caripensis) and the fascinating and very complex courtship dances of the white-bearded manakin (Manacus manacus) and the golden-headed manakin (Pipra erythrocephala).

From 1963 to 1964 he was the Director of the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) in the Galapagos Islands. He was Director of CDRS during the landmark expedition mounted from the University of California at Berkeley called the Galápagos International Scientific Project (GISP). He was also Director of Research for the British Trust for Ornithology from 1964 to 1968, and from 1968 to 1984 he worked at the Natural History Museum. From 1987 to 1990 he was president of the British Ornithologists' Union.

David Snow edited The Ibis, Bird Study and the Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club.

Following Barbara's death in 2007, he published Birds in Our Life, an account of their lives and their close ornithological partnership. Snow died at age 84 and is survived by two sons.

Custodial History

Presented to the Alexander Library of Ornithology by the Natural History Museum at Tring, 2011.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred from the Alexander Library of Ornithology, 2018.

Papers of David William Snow
Finding aid prepared by EAD version by Jen Patterson
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom