Collection MG39 - Ernest Joy letters

Title proper

Ernest Joy letters

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  • Textual record

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on contents.

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  • 1876-1951 (Creation)
    Joy, Ernest

Physical description

10 cm of textural records

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Name of creator

([ca. 1876]-1951)

Biographical history

Ernest Joy (ca. 1876-1951), the son of Edward and Annie Ramsdell Joy, had a keen interest in and great knowledge of birds. In the early 1920s, as he crossed from Machias Seal Island to Grand Manan, New Brunswick, he saw and shot an albatross, a yellow nosed mallemuck. He gave it to his friend Alan Moses, a taxidermist living at North Head, Grand Manan, who later used the interest in this rare bird to gain influence in the ornithological community. He donated the specimen to the American Museum of Natural History in New York in exchange for membership on an expedition to Tanzania and the Belgian Congo in 1928. While on there safari, he related the plight of the North American population of eider ducks to Sterling Rockefeller. In 1930, at Moses' suggestion, Mr. Rockefeller purchased Kent Island, located off the coast of Grand Manan Island, which he turned into a bird sanctuary with the intent to preserve the species, which had dwindled to only seven nesting pairs. Eider duck numbers quickly rebounded and the species was saved. In 1936, the Rockefellers gave the island to the Bowdoin College in Maine, for use as a research station.

Ernest was a game warden. In 1938, he began work as keeper, weather recorder, and all-round guide to the students of Bowdoin College Scientific Research Station at Kent Island. Ernest Joy wrote letters to accompany the weather reports he sent to Robert Cunningham, who was a research meteorologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He retired in 1949 and died in November 1951


Custodial history

Robert Cunningham collected his correspondence with Ernest Joy in a binder.

Scope and content

This fonds contains a binder of original letters from Ernest Joy to Robert Cunningham with newspaper clippings, diary excerpts, and meteorological reports from Kent Island. There is also one photograph of Ernest Joy with his housekeeper and companion, Carrie.

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Immediate source of acquisition

Donated by Robert Cunningham in 1996.


Arrangement by Robert Cunningham.

Language of material

  • English

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Binder contains original letters and is closed for preservation reasons. Photocopy of the binder is available for public viewing.

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Finding aid avaliable upon request.

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