Dickinson's Birds

A listening machine

dedication project overview navigation colophon sources

Meshworks: Sources and Resources


Primary Sources

MS A 108 (Fr1545A), ca. 1881. Pencil draft / trial lines associated with “A Pang is more conspicuous in Spring”. Amherst College Archives & Special Collections.


Manuscript Sources

The Emily Dickinson Archive (edickinson.org), an open-access resource gathering digital surrogates of many of the manuscripts of Dickinson’s poems  from many archives is the primary source for manuscript images reproduced here.

Manuscripts images from the following Libraries are included here:

  • American Antiquarian Society
  • Amherst College Archives & Special Collections
  • Beinecke Library, Yale University
  • Boston Public Library
  • Dumbarton Oaks, Harvard University
  •  Forbes Library
  • Houghton Library, Harvard University
  • Jones Library
  • Library of Congress
  • Middlebury College Library
  • The Morgan Library & Museum
  • New York Public Library
  • Princeton University Library
  • The Robert P. Esty Library
  • The Rosenbach Library
  • Scripps College Library
  • Smith College Libraries
  • State Historical Society of Iowa
  • Vassar Special Collections

Scholarly Editions

R. W. Franklin’s The Manuscript Books of Emily Dickinson, 2 vols. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1986.

R. W. Franklin, ed., The Poems of Emily Dickinson, 3 vols. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1998.*

Ellen Louise Hart and Martha Nell Smith in Open Me Carefully: Emily Dickinson’s Intimate Letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson. Ashfield, Mass.: Paris Press, 1998.

Thomas H. Johnson, ed., The Letters of Emily Dickinson, 3 vols. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1958.

*Unless otherwise noted, the dating of Dickinson’s poems derives from Franklin 1998; the dating of Dickinson’s fragments derives from Johnson 1958.

Birding Guides

Figure of a bird, showing its technical divisions. Thomas Rymer Jones, The Natural History of Birds; a popular introduction to ornithology. 1867.



C19  data on the birds’ occurrence, arrival, and departure dates is drawn principally from three sources:

  • H. L. Clark, The Birds of Amherst & Vicinity, including nearly the whole of Hampshire County. Amherst, MA: J. E. Williams, 1887.
  • Ebenezer Emmons, Birds of Massachusetts (1833), originally published in Dr. Edward Hitchcock’s “Report on the Geology, Minerology, Botany and Zoology of Massachusetts”, pp. 528-51.
  • J. A. Allen, “Catalogue of the Birds Found at Springfield, Mass., with Notes on their Migrations, Habits, & c., together with a list of those birds found in the State not yet observed at Springfield” (1864), originally published in the Proceedings of the Essex Institute at Salem, Vol. IV, No. 2, September 1864.
C19 conservation data on the status of Dickinson’s birds  is often unreported or simply unknown.


C20 data on the birds’ occurrence, arrival, and departure dates has been drawn from two sources:

C20 data reporting  the conservation status of Dickinson’s birds is recoverable through the documentation provided in the Christmas Bird Censuses, first begun in 1900 by ornithologist Frank M. Chapman and then carried on throughout the century.


C21 data  on the birds’ occurrence, arrival, and departure dates derives from the following sources:
C21 data on habitat and nest materials has been gathered from Audubon’s Field Guide to North American Birds.
C21 data on the conservation status of Dickinson’s birds derives from The Cornell Ornithology Lab (allaboutbirds.org) and  The American Bird Conservanc.

Bird Sound Files

Volta Record 3. Glass disc recording, produced photographically on March 11, 1885. Photo: Rich Strauss. Smithsonian.

The website www.xeno-canto.org (“Xeno-canto”), created in 2005 by Bob Planque and William-Pier Vellinga, and administrated by the Netherlands-based Xeno-canto foundation (Stichting Xeno-canto voor natuurgeluiden), is an open-access site dedicated to sharing recordings of sounds of wild birds from all across the world and the primary source of the sound and sonogram files used in Dickinson’s Birds. Xeno-canto is committed to education, conservation, and science, and their recordings are shared under various Creative Commons licenses that generally allow distribution provided recordists are credited and provided no commercial proceeds are sought.

Map Sources

Frances H. Henshaw, Massachusetts (1828). David Rumsey Historical Collection.

The nineteenth-century Massachusetts map at the heart of this archive was created by Frances A. Henshaw in April 1823. It appears in her “Book of Penmanship,” a slender volume composed by Henshaw when she was a student at the Middlebury Female Academy and containing both her writing exercises on astronomical geography and her exquisitely hand-drawn and colored maps of nineteen of the then twenty-four United States http://www.davidrumsey.com/maps3127.html. “Massachusetts” is small is scale,  measuring only 16 cm (h) x 23 cm (w), and Henshaw’s fusion of alphabetic and cartographic literacy clearly reflects the influence of Emma Willard, the educator and map-maker who led the Academy from 1807 to 1908. Today the map is part of the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection, which includes an exceptional rich collection of 19th c maps made by children.

Other maps consulted include the following: 
  • Alonzo Gray and Charles B. Adams, Map of Amherst, 1833. Courtesy of the Jones Library, Amherst, Massachusetts.
  • H. F. Walling, Map of Amherst, 1856. Courtesy of the Jones Library, Amherst, Massachusetts.
  • Beer’s Atlas, Amherst Village, 1873. Courtesy of the Jones Library, Amherst, Massachusetts.

Sources + Resources

Abram, David. 1996. The Spell of the Sensuous. New York: Vintage Books.

Ackerman, Jennifer. 2017. The Genius of Birds. New York: Penguin.

Adams, John Luther and Alex Ross. 2009. The Place Where You Go to Listen: In Search of an Ecology of Music. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press.

Allen, Aaron S. and Kevin Dawe, eds. 2016. Current Directions in Ecomusicology: Music, Culture, Nature. Abingdon: Routledge.

American Bird Conservancy @ https://abcbirds.org.

Aristotle, De Anima II.8 420b12.

Armbruster, Karla M. and Kathleen R. Wallace, eds. 2001. Beyond Nature Writing: Expanding the Boundaries of Ecocriticism. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia.

Arons, Wendy and Theresa J. May, eds. 2012. Readings in Performance and Ecology. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Arsić, Branka. 2016. Bird Relics: Grief and Vitalism in Thoreau. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Ayres, Edward L. 2010. “Turning toward Place, Space, and Time.” In The Spatial Humanities: GIS and the Future of Humanities Scholarship, edited by David J. Bodenhamer, John Corrigan, and Trevor M. Harris. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Bandt, Ros, Michelle Duffy, and Dolly MacKinnon, eds. 2007. Hearing Places: Sound, Place, Time and Culture. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars.

Barclay, Leah. 2012. “Shifting Paradigms: Towards an Auditory Culture.” Proceedings of ISEA 2012 Albuquerque: Machine Wilderness. Albuquerque: ISEA. http://socialmedia.hpc.unm.edu/isea2012/sites/default/files/ISEA2012_confproceedings_WEB.pdf.

Bennett, Jane. 2010. Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. Durham: Duke University Press.

Bergland, Renee. 2008. “Urania’s Inversion: Emily Dickinson, Herman Melville, and the Strange History of Women Scientists in Nineteenth-Century America.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 34:1.

Besel, Richard D. and Jnan A. Blau, eds. 2014. Performance on Behalf of the Environment. Plymouth: Lexington Books.

Bianchi, Frederick and V. J. Manzo, eds. 2016. Environmental Sound Artists: In Their Own Words. New York: Oxford University Press.

Birds of the World: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology @ https://birdsoftheworld.org/bow/home.

Bodenhamer, David J., John Corrigan, and Trevor M. Harris. 2015. Deep Maps and Spatial Narratives. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Brown, Andrew. 2014. Art & Ecology Now. London: Thames and Hudson.

Burns, Thea. 2013. The Luminous Trace: Drawing and Writing in Metalpoint. London, Archetype Publications, 2013.

Caballero, Krista and Frank Ekberg. 2013–. Birding the Future @ http://www.birdingthefuture.net.

Caballero, Krista. 2016. Portable Field Desk @ http://kristacaballero.com/portable-field-desks.

Caballero, Krista. 2020-. Some Spells Are Bigger @ http://kristacaballero.com/some-spells-are-bigger.

Carlyle, Angus, ed. 2007. Autumn Leaves: Sound and the Environment in Artistic Practice. Paris: Double Entendre.

Carson, Rachel. 1962. Silent Spring. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.

Chow, Juliana. 2014. “‘Because I see – New Englandly – ’: Seeing Species in the Nineteenth-Century and Emily Dickinson’s Regional Specificity.” ESQ, 60.3, 2014: 413–49.

Clare, John. 2004. Major Works, edited by Eric Robinson and David Powell. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Clark, Timothy. 2015. Ecocriticism on the Edge: The Anthropocene as a Threshold Concept. New York: Bloomsbury Academic.

Cole, Norma. 1991. My Bird Book. Portland, ME: Littoral Books.

Cook, Terry and Joan M. Schwartz. 2002. “Archives, Records, and Power: From (Postmodern) Theory to (Archival) Performance.” Archival Science, 2: 171–85.

Cramerotti, Alfredo, ed. 2015. The Blind.  Bristol and Chicago: Intellect.

Cummings, Jim. 2010. About Environmental Soundscape Art. http://earthear.com/aboutesa.html.

Cusack, Peter. 2012. Sounds from Dangerous Places. Surrey: ReR Megacorp.

“Dawn Chorus,” conceived and directed by Bernie Kraus and Michael John Gorman @ dawn-chorus.org, 2020.

Derrida, Jacques. Aporias, translated by Thomas Dutoit. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993.

Dunn, David. 2021. The Sound of Light in Trees. https://daviddunn.bandcamp.com/album/the-sound-of-light-in-trees.

Ear to the Earth. 2011. @  http://twitter.com/ear2earth.

The Endings Project @ https://projectendings.github.io/.

Emily Dickinson Archive @ https://www.emilydickinson.org.

Emmons, Ebenezer. 1833. The Birds of Massachusetts. In Dr. Edward Hitchcock’s “Report on the Geology, Minerology, Botany and Zoology of Massachusetts”: 528–51.

Farge, Arlette. 2013. The Allure of the Archives. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Foer, Jonathan Safran. 2001. A Convergence of Birds: Original Fiction and Poetry Inspired by Joseph Cornell. D.A.P.

“For the Birds” by the Birdsong Project: https://open.spotify.com/album/6c8aHa89kWTsrcz0iw7fgS?si=YxOT7jT7S3W6imf0mKOHUw.

Fragments of Extinction. https://www.fragmentsofextinction.org/dusk-chorus-film/

Gander, Forrest and John Kinsella. 2012. Redstart: An Ecological Poetics. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press.
Gardner, Thomas and Salomé Voegelin, eds. 2016. Colloquium: Sound Art – Music. Winchester: ZeroBooks, John Hunt Publishing.
Garrard, Greg. 2012. Ecocriticism, 2nd edn. Abingdon: Routledge.
Gilmurray, Jono. 2016. “Sounding the Alarm: An Introduction to Ecological Sound Art.” Muzikoloski Zbornik—Musicological Annual, 52.2: 71–84.
Glotfelty, Cheryll and Harrold Fromm, et. al., eds. 1996. The Ecocriticism Reader: Landmarks in Literary Ecology. Athens: University of Georgia Press.
Greenaway, Peter. 1994. Flying Out of This World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Hamilton, William J., III. 1962. “Evidence Concerning the Function of Nocturnal Call Notes of Migratory Birds.” California Academy of Sciences, 64.5: 390–401.
Henshaw, Frances. 1823. “Massachusetts.” The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection @ www.davidrumsey.com.
Hitchcock, Orra White. Amherst College Digital Collections: Classroom drawings by Orra White Hitchcock @ https://acdc.amherst.edu/browse/partOf/Orra+White+Hitchcock+Classroom+Drawings?_ga=2.183907747.427271304.1613600253-1929252704.1612994588
Ingold, Tim. 2010. “Bringing Things to Life: Creative Entanglements in a World of Materials.” ESRC National Centre for Research Methods @ http://eprints.ncrm.ac.uk/1306/.
Ingold, Tim. 2020. Correspondences. Cambridge: Polity Press.
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species @ https://www.iucnredlist.org.
Jackson, Virginia. 2005. Dickinson’s Misery: A Theory of Lyric Reading. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Kolbert, Elizabeth. 2014. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. New York: Henry Holt.
Krause, Bernie L. 1987. “The Niche Hypothesis: How Animals Taught Us to Dance and Sing.” http://appohigh.org/ourpages/auto/2010/12/21/52074732/niche.pdf
Lane, Cathy and Angus Carlyle. 2013. In the Field: The Art of Field Recording. Axminster: Uniformbooks.
MacKenzie, Cynthia, ed. 2000. Concordance to the Letters of Emily Dickinson. Boulder: University Press of Colorado.
Manning, Erin. 2016. The Minor Gesture. Durham: Duke University Press.
Mass Audubon @ https://www.massaudubon.org.
Massachusetts Avian Records Committee. Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife @ https://maavianrecords.com/.
Matthews, G. V. T. 1968. Bird Migration. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Matilsky, Barbara C. 1992. Fragile Ecologies: Contemporary Artists’ Interpretations and Solutions. New York: Rizzoli.
McKibben, Bill. 2005. What the Warming World Needs Now is Art, Sweet Art. http://grist.org/article/mckibben-imagine/.
Morton, Timothy. 2010. The Ecological Thought. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Morton, Timothy. 2013. Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Natural World Museum 2007. Art in Action: Nature, Creativity and our Collective Future. San Rafael: Earth Aware Editions.Nickens, T. Edward. “Listening to Migrating Birds at Night May Help Ensure Their Safety.” Audubon Magazine September-October 2013 @ https://www.audubon.org/magazine/september-october-2013/listening-migrating-birds-night-may.

Nowviskie, Bethany. 2015. “Digital Humanities in the Anthropocene.” Special conference issue of DSH: the Journal of Digital Scholarship in the Humanities.
Nowviskie, Bethany, Rachel Mattson, and Samantha MacFarlane, eds. 2018. “Endangered Knowledge,” a special issue of KULA: Knowledge Creation, Dissemination, and Preservation Studies.
Nowviskie, Bethany. 2019. “Speculative Collections and the Emancipatory Library.” In The Routledge International Handbook of New Digital Practices in Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums and Heritage Sites, eds. Hannah Lewi et al. Abingdon: Routledge.
Nowviskie, Bethany. 2019. “Capacity Through Care.” In Debates in the Digital Humanities 2019, edited by Matthew K. Gold and Lauren F. Klein. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Opie, John. 1998. Nature’s Nation: An Environmental History of the United States. Independence: Cengage Learning.
Pearson, Lisa. 2011. It is Almost That: A Collection of Image + Text Works by Women Artists & Writers. Los Angeles: Siglio.
Petersen, Wayne R. and Brian E. Small. 2017. Field Guide to the Birds of Massachusetts. New York: Scott & Nix, Inc.
Pettman, Dominic.  2017. Sonic Intimacy: Voice, Species, Technics (or, How To Listen to the World). Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Purcell, Rosamond, Linnea S. Hall, and Rene Corado. 2008. Egg & Nest. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Quin, Douglass. 2010. Fathom. Taiga.
Rosenbaum, S. P. 1964. A Concordance to the Poems of Emily Dickinson. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Schafer, R. Murray. 1977. The Tuning of the World. New York: Knopf.
Serres, Michel. 1997. Genesis. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Serres, Michel. 2020. Branches: A Philosophy of Time, Event and Advent. New York: Bloomsbury Academic.
Simons, Jeffrey. 2019. “Dickinson’s Lyric Ornithology.” The Emily Dickinson Journal, 28.1: 1–22.
The Singing and the Silence: Birds in Contemporary Art: An Exhibition. October 30, 2014–February 22, 2015. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Skinner, Jonathan. 2011. “Birds in Dickinson’s Words.” The Emily Dickinson Journal, 20.2: 106–110.
Snell, Ebenezer and Sabra. The Snell Meteorological Journals, 1835–1902. 5 vols. Amherst College Archives.
Socarides, Alexandra. 2014. Dickinson Unbound: Paper, Process, Poetics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Sobsey, Leah. Collections. Bronx, NY: Daylight Community Arts Foundation, 2015.
Spaid, Sue. 2002. Ecovention: Current Art to Transform Ecologies. Cincinatti: Contemporary Arts Center.
Steedman, Carolyn. 2002. Dust: The Archive and Cultural History. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Tempest Williams, Terry with photographs by Tristin Spinski. 2017. “Windows into AnotherWorld.” Audubon @ www.audubon.org/magazine/summer-2017/bwindows-another-world-take-tour-bird-blinds.
Voeglin, Salomé. 2010. Listening to Noise and Silence: Towards a Philosophy of Sound Arts. New York: Continuum.
Voeglin, Salomé. 2021. Sonic Possible Worlds: Hearing the Continuum of Sound. New York: Bloomsbury.
von Bayern, Auguste, Michael Gorman, Konstantin Reetz, and Anka Michaelis, project leaders. 2020. Dawn Chorus. Max Planck Institute of Ornithology @ dawn-chorus.org.
Weidensaul, Scott. A World on the Wing: The Global Odyssey of Migratory Birds. New York: Norton.
Weisman, Alan. The World Without Us. 2007. New York: Thomas Dunne Books.
Werner, Marta, L., ed. [1999] 2010. Radical Scatters: An Electronic Archive of Emily Dickinson’s Late Fragments and Related Texts @ http://radicalscatters.unl.edu.
Westling, Louise, ed. 2014. The Cambridge Companion to Literature and the Environment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Westover, Peter. 1977. Birds and Their Habitats in Amherst, Massachusetts with Complete Annotated List of Amherst Birds. Amherst: Hitchcock Center for the Environment.
Whitehouse, Andrew. 2015. “Listening to Birds in the Anthropocene: The Anxious Semiotics of Sound in a Human-Dominated World.” Environmental Humanities, 6: 53–71.
Winderen, Jana. 2013. Silencing of the Reefs, Dardanella, Belize 3–14 December 2012. http://janawinderen.com/fieldtrips/sielncing_of_the_reefs_dardane.html#.V6Sq1FfgVbw.
Winderen, Jana. 2017. Spring Bloom in the Marginal Ice Zone. Sonic Acts.
Wu, Katherine J. 2019. “A bird’s eye view of quantum entanglement.” NOVA @ www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/birds-quantum-entanglement/.
Orra White Hitchcock, “Crust of the earth”, 1828-1840, 184 x 187 cm., Pen and ink on linen. Courtesy of Edward and Orra White Hitchcock Papers, Amherst College Archives and Special Collections.