From now until the end of July, the Valley Library is hosting the Oregon Historical Society exhibit “Catching Birds with a Camera: Finley, Bohlman and the Photographs That Launched Oregon’s Conservation Movement.” The photo exhibit is on display on the library’s fifth floor in the exhibit foyer of the Special Collections and Archives Research Center (SCARC).
The Oregon Historical Society (OHS) curated and hosted the exhibit in 2018 as an extension of a joint grant project between OHS and SCARC. During 2016-17, the two collaborated on the project “Reuniting Finley and Bohlman” to make more than 40 years of photographs, manuscripts, publications, correspondence, and other materials created by William Finley, Irene Finley, and Herman Bohlman available online.
The digitization effort allows the collection, which is physically divided between the OHS and SCARC, to be united in its entirety for researchers and conservationists to access online. Included in the project are nearly 7,000 images and over 8,000 pages of manuscript materials that are available at digitalcollections.ohs.org and oregondigital.org/sets/finley-bohlman.
William L. Finley’s interest in wildlife conservation began when he and his boyhood friend, Herman T. Bohlman, began photographing birds around Oregon at the turn of the 20th century. Photos and manuscripts by Finley, his wife Irene, and Bohlman helped in establishing wildlife refuges in Oregon. The photographs include Finley and Bohlman’s trips to Malheur Lake, the Klamath Lakes, and Three Arch Rocks on the Oregon coast – and these photographs played a key role in President Theodore Roosevelt’s decision to create wildlife refuges at those locations. A fourth wildlife refuge near Corvallis was named in honor of William Finley.
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