The Library’s four double-elephant portfolio volumes of Birds of America are available for online viewing only at this time. 

The Library owns one of the few intact copies of John James Audubon’s Birds of America, opens a new window.

Birds of America consists of 435 plates, bound in four volumes. Each plate was hand colored in London under the direction of Audubon and engraver Robert Havell, Jr. At 21.5" x 39.5" and 40 pounds, it is one of the largest and heaviest books in our collection. Our copy was purchased in 1870 from Joseph Longworth (son of Cincinnati millionaire Nicholas Longworth). The book was originally owned by Dr. Thomas Edmonson of Baltimore, Maryland.

New cases to house the set were unveiled on Nov. 16, 2015 in the Joseph S. Stern, Jr. Cincinnati Room at the Main Library. The cases are dedicated to wildlife artist John Ruthven. The four-volume folio set is part of a permanent exhibit that also features a new computer touchscreen which allows visitors to digitally flip through the books and zoom in on the artwork.

View Birds of America Online

Click the images below to view the book in our digital library.

Birds of America Volume 1 Birds of America volume 2
Birds of America volume 4


Watch a Video About the Books

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