Skip to main content

Alfred Otto Gross papers

Identifier: M078

  • Staff Only
  • Please use the Collection Organization section below to place requests.

Scope and Contents

The collection contains correspondence (1883-1970, n.d.), including some family letters; draft and printed versions of articles, many in clipping scrapbooks, including those written for the Maine Coast Fisherman; journals, notebooks, etc. (1900-66), some from his student days, from the arctic expeditions, and on Herring Gull/Cormorant control; material concerning the Donald B. MacMillan 1934 and 1937 Arctic expeditions; notes, etc. relating to the New England Ruffed Grouse investigation (1926-33, n.d.) and to the Heath Hen census on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts (1928-33, n.d.); an autobiographical essay; ornithological and other photographs, negatives and motion picture film; and material relating to Gross or his career.


  • Creation: 1883-1970


Access Restrictions

No restrictions.

Use of Digital Collections

Digital materials may be used for research, educational, and non-commercial purposes without our written permission. For information about publication, visit our policies page or contact

Biographical/Historical Note

Internationally known ornithologist, Alfred O. Gross, was born April 8, 1883, in Atwood, Illinois. His parents Henry, a merchant, and Sophia, were immigrants from Kadelburg, Germany. Gross received his Ph.D from Harvard in 1912. He married Edna Gross in Reading, Pennsylvania, July 3, 1913; they had three children, William (Bowdoin 1937), Thomas (Bowdoin 1940), and Edna.

Gross was instructor (1912-13) and professor of biology at Bowdoin (1913-53) and the first director of Bowdoin's Scientific Station on Kent Island (located in New Brunswick, Canada); he received an honorary degree from the college in 1952. A Fellow and Patron of the American Ornithologists Union, Gross served as ornithologist on Donald B. MacMillan's Arctic expeditions of 1934 and 1937, and was the author of 265 scientific articles and books. He devoted his life to the study of birds, with a special emphasis on the Heath Hen and the Ruffed Grouse.

Gross continued to conduct research and write articles and scholarly reviews until shortly before his death in Greenwich, Connecticut on May 9, 1970. He was a friend of poet and novelist Robert P. T. Coffin, and author Thornton Burgess.


45 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Gross was instructor (1912-13) and professor of biology at Bowdoin (1913-53) and an internationally respected ornithologist. The collection contains correspondence, research notes, draft and printed versions of articles, scrapbooks, photographs, film footage, and a memoir; much of the material concern's Gross' ornithological research over many years, including his field work on two Arctic expeditions led by Donald B. MacMillan and his work to document the remaining population, on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, of the now extinct Heath Hen.

Existence and Location of Copies

Three 16 mm film reels showing the Bowdoin College Scientific Station on Kent Island (New Brunswick, Canada) and five 35 mm film reels: "The Heath Hen" (1 reel) and Birds of Grenfelland" (4 reels) have been digitized and are available online. See Film Recordings series.


Preservation, digitization, and duplication of five 35 mm film reels of ornithological film recordings: "The Heath Hen" (1 reel) and "Birds of Grenfelland" (4 reels) generously funded by the National Film Preservation Foundation, 2017.

Genre / Form

Guide to the Alfred Otto Gross Papers
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library, Brunswick, Maine 04011 Repository

3000 College Station
Brunswick Maine 04011 USA
(207) 725-3288