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Howard Jones papers

Call Number: GEN MSS 803

Scope and Contents

The Howard Jones Papers contains correspondence, personal papers, writings, research material, and some business papers, the latter concerning the Circleville Light and Power Company, and the Jones family's publication Illustrations of the Nests and Eggs of Birds of Ohio. Also present are some family papers, in particular correspondence and writings of Jones's father Nelson E. Jones, and letters to his material grandparents Anson and Amy Beckwith Smith from their sons. While the papers touch of many aspects of Howard Jones's life, they primarily document the family's production and distribution of their masterwork Illustrations of the Nests and Eggs of Birds of Ohio from its beginning in 1878 through the mid-twentieth century.


  • 1835 - 1951
  • Majority of material found within 1879 - 1946


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Howard Jones Papers is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Eleanor B. Jones, 1963.


Organized into three series: I. Correspondence and Personal Papers, 1860-1946. II. Writings, 1870-1939. III. Circleville Light and Power Company, 1856-1917. IV. Family Papers, 1835-1951. Series V. Printed Material from Illustrations of the Nests and Eggs of Birds of Ohio, 1878-1888.

Associated Materials

Printed works by Jones, including a two-volume set of illustrations of the Nests and Eggs of Birds of Ohio, also the gift of Eleanor B. Jones in 1963, were cataloged separately. One set of illustrations of the Nests and Eggs of Birds of Ohio, still in parts in original wrappers, as sold to subscriber number 26 Edgar A. Mearns, was given to the library by William Robertson Coe in 1948.


10.6 Linear Feet (36 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The Howard Jones papers consist of correspondence, personal papers, writings, and other documents relating to Jones, his parents, sister Genevieve, and other family members. Present are his essays and speeches on subjects such as birds, medicine, the history of medicine, and the history of Circleville, Ohio, particularly concerning the region's American Indians, in the form of manuscripts, typescripts, and printed ephemera. Business papers include correspondence and documents relating to the Circleville Electric Light and Power Company, organized by Howard Jones in 1891. Also present is material concerning the production and distribution of the Jones family's publication Illustrations of the nests and eggs of birds of Ohio (1879-1886), which featured texts by Howard Jones and ornithological drawings by Genevieve E. Jones, Virginia S. Jones, and Eliza J. Shulze, and was underwritten by Nelson Edward Jones. Series V. contains printed material left after distribution of the publication, which was printed in Cincinnati by Krebs Lithographing Co. (plates) and Robert Clarke & Co. (texts). A small group of papers for Nelson Jones contains some of his writings, press clippings, and biographical sketches of family members including his wife Virginia and daughter Genevieve, as well as two letters discussing the medical treatment of President James A. Garfield shortly before his death. A folder of material for Howard Jones's maternal grandparents Anson and Amy Beckwith Smith contains letters to them in New London, Connecticut, from their two sons, John Robertson Smith and Hamilton Lanphere Smith. Also in the collection are two short runs of amateur periodicals published in Circleville, Ohio.

Howard Jones (1853-1945)

Howard Edward Jones was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on August 24, 1853, the son of Dr. Nelson E. Jones (1821-1901) and Virginia Smith Jones (1826-1906). Raised in Circleville, Ohio, he received two degrees from Hobart College in Geneva, New York (BA 1875, MA 1878), where he had helped to organize the college's natural history collections. In 1876 Jones received an MD degree from Ohio Medical College in Cincinnati, followed by studies at the College of Physicians and Surgeons (now Columbia University) in New York City. He married Mary MacMullin in 1882, and practiced medicine in Circleville from the late 1870s until his death there on December 12, 1945. Outside his chosen profession, Jones was a noted naturalist and local historian who spoke and published about regional history, particularly focusing on American Indians, and founded the Ohio History Day Association with his wife Mary in 1926. Jones wrote , a history of Circleville, and an historical novel, The Tragedy of La Belle Riviere, as well as a number of articles on birds, medicine, medical history, and other topics. As a child, Jones had learned from his mother that her brother, Hamilton L. Smith, was the first daguerreotypist in Ohio; in his research he found instead that Smith had been the first American to patent the process of making photographs on japanned metal surfaces, later known as tintypes, in 1856. Also civic-minded, Jones was the president of the Circleville Light and Power Company, which he organized in 1891 to bring electric lights to Circleville's streets and merchants.

In 1878 Howard Jones's sister Genevieve (1847-1879) and her friend Eliza Jane Shulze began a project to illustrate the nests and eggs of local birds in the fashion of John James Audubon's work Birds of America. Howard Jones agreed to collect the required specimens and to write the accompanying texts, and the two women, both amateur artists, drew images of the specimens directly on lithographic stones and hand-colored the resulting prints. Their limited-edition publication, titled Illustrations of the Nests and Eggs of Birds of Ohio, was issued to subscribers in twenty-three parts between 1879 and 1886, with the printing done in Cincinnati by the Krebs Lithographing Co. (plates) and Robert Clarke & Co. (texts); production costs were underwritten by Nelson Jones. When Genevieve Jones died from typhoid fever one month after Part I was issued, her mother Virginia, also an untrained artist, stepped in to complete the illustrations, hiring three young women, including Josephine Klippart (1848-1936), to assist with coloring the plates. The publication was heralded by contemporary ornithologists for its fidelity to nature, with favorable comparisons made to Audubon's work.

Guide to the Howard Jones Papers
by Sandra Markham
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

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