STROUD, ROBERT, ("Bird-Man of Alcatraz"), Convict and orinthologist. An extensive personal archive including 5 autograph letters signed, one 26-page autograph letter (unsigned) to his brother, 14 autograph documents signed, several autograph documents unsigned, books (42, 21 of which signed, some with inmate number, plus Stroud's own copy of his Digest of the Diseases of Birds), pamphlets (on ornithology, agriculture and the legal system), extensive incoming correspondence from a variety of correspondents, the letters and documents totalling approximately 1100 pages, v.p., [1930s-1963]. A quantity, in several packages, condition generally good. [With:] A hand-tooled leather satchel made by Stroud for his attorney and bearing his initials, "R.S.," and a woolen scarf.
THE PAPERS AND POSSESSIONS OF ROBERT STROUD, "THE BIRD-MAN OF ALCATRAZ"
Stroud (1890-1963), convicted of killing a man in Juneau, Alaska in 1909 and a prison guard at Leavenworth in 1916, was imprisoned for 54 years, 42 of which he spent in solitary confinement (he was in Alcatraz from 1942-1959). At Leavenworth, Stroud became interested in birds and began the systematic study of ornithology, chemistry, medicine and pharmacology, by correspondence; he constructed cages out of cigar boxes for canaries and became an expert on bird pathology. This extensive archive embraces Stroud's library, several artifacts and extensive manuscript materials. The latter includes Stroud's last will and testament, and an exceptionally autobiographical autograph letter (of approximately 3,000 words) to his brother (unsent?), 11 November 1948, (27 pages, folio, closely written in Stroud's spidery italic handwriting pages 23 and 24 lacking) and an autograph manuscript entitled "Suggestions on Prison Management." In the 11 November 1948 letter Stroud graphically describes his troubled family life as a child: "...Grafting the inexorable demands of a vigorous adult body into the mental and emotional machinery of a child...would have produced enormous strains under the best of circumstances. But when the child is not only totally unprepared for the strain and his mental and emotional machinery is already warped to a point of impotence by mental and emotional inhibitions, it is too much..." At the end he explains that "...[i]t has been not only to explain these things to you but as a part of a prophylactic self analysis that these pages have been written, this being one of the processes by which I have maintained my balance and my reason in the face of circumstances which I have seen drive more than a thousand men mad..."