Dickinson's Birds

A Listening Machine

← About

Mesh-Works: Sources + Resources

Primary Sources


Manuscript sources

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 of Dickinson's Works

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 


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. 

  • 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: 

  • Aaron Clark Bagg and Samuel Atkins Eliot Jr.,l Birds of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts. Northampton, Mass.: The Hampshire Bookshop, 1937.  

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: 

  • Wayne R. Petersen and Brian E. Small, Field Guide to Birds of Massachusetts. Scott & Nix, Inc., 2017. 

  • Peter Westover, "Amherst College Bird Survey", 2008.

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

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

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. "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. In addition to Henshaw’s "Massachusetts", we have consulted her maps of New Hampshire, New York, and Rhode Island, as well as a c. 1821 map of the United States drawn by an anonymous student: 
The maps of Amherst  in Dickinson’s Birds 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.

Secondary Sources


Arsić, Branka. Bird Relics: Grief and Vitalism in Thoreau. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2016.
Bodenhamer, David J., John Corrigan, and Trevor M. Harris. Deep Maps and Spatial Narratives. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2015.
Burns, Thea. The Luminous Trace: Drawing and Writing in Metalpoint. London: Archetype Publications, 2013.
Carson, Rachel. Silent Spring. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1962. 
Cappello, Mary. Life Breaks In: A Mood Almanack. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016.
Chow, Julia Chow. “‘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. The Poetry Of John Clare: “I found the poems in the fields, / And only wrote them down.” Portable Poetry, 2013. @ https://ebookihd.firebaseapp.com/aa116/the-poetry-of-john-clare-i-found-the-poems-in-the-fields-and-only-wrote-them-down-by-john-clare-b00fzvr40s.pdf.
Clark, Timothy.  Ecocriticism on the Edge: The Anthropocene as a Threshold Concept. London Bloomsbury Academic, 2015.
“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.
“Digital Amherst,” The Jones Library, Amherst, Massachusetts @ http://www.digitalamherst.org/exhibits.  
Cramerotti, Alfredo, ed. The Blind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015.
Farge, Arlette. The Allure of the Archives. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013.  
Grossman, Allen. Of the Great House: A Book of Poems. New York: New Directions, 1982.
Hamilton, William J., III. “Evidence Concerning the Function of Nocturnal Call Notes of Migratory Birds,” California Academy of Sciences 64 (March 1962): 390–401. 
Ingold, Tim. “Bringing Things to Life: Creative Entanglements in a World of Materials”, 2, Working Paper #15 for the ESRC National Centre for Research Methods, July 2010; see http://eprints.ncrm.ac.uk/1306/1/0510_creative_entanglements.pdf.
Manning, Erin. The Minor Gesture. Chapel Hill: Duke University Press, 2016.
Massachusetts Avian Records Committee, updated October 2020 @ https://maavianrecords.com/.
Matthews, G. V. T. Bird Migration. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968.
McPherson, Christopher, recordist. “Winter Wren,” adult male, song sonogram, XC602670. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/602670.
Morton, Timothy. “Ecology as Text, Text as Ecology,” Oxford Literary Review 32.1 (2010): 1–17.
Morton, Timothy. The Ecological Thought. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2010.
Morton, Timothy. Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013.
“Murmuration” @ https://www.wired.com/2012/03/starling-flock-dynamics/. For a video of this phenomenon, see also https://petapixel.com/2020/04/02/this-video-captures-the-mesmerizing-patterns-traced-by-a-flock-of-starlings/.
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.
Opie, John. Nature's Nation: An Environmental History of the United States. Boston: Cengage Learning, 1998.
Pearson, Lisa. It is Almost That: A Collection of Image + Text Works by Women Artists & Writers. Los Angeles: Siglio, 2011. 
Purcell, Rosamond, Linnea S. Hall, and Rene Corado. Egg & Nest. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2008.
Scarry, Elaine. Dreaming by the Book. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1999.

Serres, Michel. Branches: A Philosophy of Time, Event and Advent. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2020.

Serres, Michel.  Genesis, translated by Genevieve James and James Nielson. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1995. 
Socarides, Alex. Dickinson Unbound: Paper, Process, Poetics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.
Stevens, Wallace. The Collected Poems: The Corrected Edition, edited by Chris Beyers and John N. Serio. New York: Vintage, 2015.
Tempest Williams, Terry.  “Windows into Another World”, with photographs by Tristin Spinski @ https://www.audubon.org/magazine/summer-2017/windows-another-world-take-tour-bird-blinds.
Voeglin, Salomé.  Listening to Noise and Silence: Towards a Philosophy of Sound Art. New York: Continuum, 2010.

Wu, Katherine J. “A bird’s eye view of quantum entanglement”, NOVA, February 6, 2019 @