Chickens and other fowl have played a large role in history. The first book in the United States that was dedicated entirely to poultry was The American Poultry Book, published in 1843. You can find that historic book and over 1,000 others at the Leonora Hering Memorial Poultry Collection on the campus of Kansas State University.
You don’t have to be a student to access this special collection. Anyone can use the books for research 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. People come from around the world to read these books, which cover more than U.S. poultry. The collection includes an original copy of Aldrovandi's work on ornithology (this link is to a German site, but it has scanned pages of the original books) published in the early 17th century in Latin. One volume focuses on poultry. If your Latin is a little rusty, you can read the English translations in the collection.
The library would like to add to the collection, as the donor, Lenora Hering, stopped collecting in the 1980s. For example, if you happen to have an original 1886 copy of The Book of Hamburgs by L. Frank Baum (yep, he wrote more than the Wizard of Oz) the library would gladly accept it.
To find out what’s available before making the trip, search the online catalog. If you’re looking for something special, Roger Adams, the librarian, can help you find it.
Photo by Troy Griepentrog