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From the RAD Front: New gifts to Mann’s rare poultry & beekeeping collections

Mann Library is pleased to announce two important additions to the library’s Rare and Distinctive (RAD) Collections. For enthusiasts of backyard chicken raising, beekeeping, agricultural history, there is much to be delighted about here.


Celebrated heirloom poultry breeder, master exhibitor and show judge S. Robert Powell has made a generous gift of his archive to Mann Library. Included is an extensive collection of original 19th century poultry newspapers, yearbooks of the American Bantam Association, and other rich ephemera from a long American tradition of heirloom poultry farming, all in pristine condition. Based in Carbondale, Pennsylvania, Mr. Powell has maintained his family homestead as a working farm as part of the Keystone State’s Century and Bicentennial Farm Program. Notes Michael Cook, Head of Mann’s Collection Development department, “Powell’s gift represents one of the best and most beautifully maintained small archives of historical agricultural materials that I have ever seen donated to Mann. It offers much inspiration for the appreciation of the beauty of diverse chicken breeds and is a wonderful time capsule view of a period in American farming history when small scale poultry husbandry was widespread.”


Also exceptional is a recent gift by Susan Ross, daughter of noted beekeeper Tom Ross, who patented the Ross Round Comb Honey system which has brought the delights of comb honey stored in clear round containers to grocery store shelves across the United States. Ms. Ross has given her father’s extensive collection of personal papers, rare artifacts, first edition copies of notable classics in apiculture, photos, and letters, including a 1957 letter from Buckminster Fuller responding to Ross’ interest in Fuller’s early work on geodesic domes. Ross was an architect and engineer by training, and this wonderful new gift provides some fascinating insight into applications of geometric design for commercially successful beekeeping endeavors.


Both gifts are in the process of being documented, cataloged and conserved for perpetual safekeeping as part of Mann Library’s Rare and Distinctive  Collections in the agriculture and life sciences. More information about Mann’s RAD Collections, including a request form for making an in-person visit, can be found here: