Written by Paul Woodcock, Vice President of the North Cascade Audubon Society, with research collaboration from Jeff Jewell, Whatcom Museum Photo Archives Historian.
AT THE END OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY THE ART OF TAXIDERMY WAS A FAD. Mounted birds and other animals were used as home decor and most naturalists, amateur and professional alike, collected and mounted specimens. As such, the Whatcom Museum’s Edson-Edson-Booth Bird Collection of over 600 mounted birds is an important cultural and historical artifact. But it is much more than that.
It is also an irreplaceable educational and scientific treasure, a testament to early Whatcom County ornithology and the impetus for the very existence of our outstanding community museum.
The man responsible for the majority of the collection is John Milton Edson who personally collected them over more than fifty years starting in the early 1890s. Another Edson, Edward, not related to John, was a long-time mayor of Lynden where he operated a drug store on Front Street which housed his collection of sixteen mounted owls. Edward Edson donated his collection to John Edson on his death in 1944. Though John Edson reportedly spent his later years doing research on and writing about taxidermy most of the two Edsons’ birds were mounted by Bellingham taxidermist Edward Booth. Booth’s personal collection was donated to the museum when he died in 1959, completing the Edson-Edson-Booth Bird Collection. Read more