The Milton S. Ray papers collection consists primarily of field books and specimen records of ornithological field work and
collecting done throughout the Western United States, as well as other areas of North America, between the years 1889 and
1946. The collection also contains correspondence, historical notes, invoices, and price lists from Milton S. Ray's extensive
ornithological and oological work.
Milton Smith Ray, born 1881 in San Francisco, is best remembered for his role as an engineer and local industrialist whose
family company, the Ray Oil Burner Company, played a major role in the evolution of steamship engines through their oil burner/piston
pump. The company had enormous success and Ray lived comfortably until his death in a mansion built by Henry Clay Smith at
2901 Broadway in San Francisco. The house sits on a hill overlooking the San Francisco Bay on a lot Ray purchased in 1925
from future president, and at the time his fellow student, Herbert Hoover. His affluent life as an industrialist enabled Ray
to pursue his other passions as well: history, poetry, oology, and ornithology. Milton S. Ray was an avid and incredibly dedicated
ornithologist who went on yearly field trips around the world and all over California collecting eggs, nests, and specimens
and documenting his observations. He pursued this passion in a diligent manner from 1892, at age 11, until his death in 1946.
When Ray passed away in 1946, his extensive egg collection was donated to the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology. The Museum currently
houses 2833 of his collected specimens. He published often in the field of ornithology and also had several volumes of poetry
published surrounding his experiences in nature, which he dedicated to his children. An example of his passion for history
can be seen in the book San Francisco Since 1872, published the year of his death in 1946. The book, which Ray co-wrote with
Oscar Lewis, is a visual history of the city over seven decades, with the content coming from the photographs and poems in
Ray’s personal collection. References: “Anecdotal History of the Property and Architect: Holbrook and Gladyne Mitchell remembrances
of 2901 Broadway June/July 2006 together with historical references.” 2901 Broadway. Dona Crowder and Peggy Economos, n. d.
Web. 16 August 2013. http://www.2901broadway.com/assets/img/History.pdf.; Martinfield, Sean. “2007 San Francisco Decorator
Showcase - Featuring broadway Mansion Atop Pacific Heights.” San Francisco Sentinel. SanFranciscoSentinel.com, 13 May 2007.
Web. 16 August 2013. http://www.sanfranciscosentinel.com/?p=2030.
Copyright restrictions may apply. All requests to publish, quote, or reproduce must be submitted to the Museum of Vertebrate
Zoology Archives in writing for approval. Please contact the Museum Archivist for further information.