Elliot used his wealth to publish a series of sumptuous color-plate books on birds and animals. Elliot wrote the text himself and commissioned artists such as Joseph Wolf and Joseph Smit, both of whom had worked for John Gould, to provide the illustrations. The books included A Monograph of the Phasianidae (Family of the Pheasants) (1870–72), A Monograph of the Paradiseidae or Birds of Paradise (1873), A Monograph of the Felidae or Family of Cats (1878) and Review of the Primates (1913).
The National Academy of Sciences awards the Daniel Giraud Elliot medal "for meritorious work in zoology or paleontology published in a three- to five-year period. Established through the Daniel Giraud Elliot Fund by gift of Miss Margaret Henderson Elliot."