William L. Finley

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William Lovell Finley
William Lovell Finley.jpg
Finley ca. 1908
Born (1876-08-09)August 9, 1876
Santa Clara, California
Died June 29, 1953(1953-06-29) (aged 76)
Portland, Oregon
"Six of the frowzy-headed Fishers in a pose", from Finley's American Birds, 1908.

William Lovell Finley (August 9, 1876 - June 29, 1953) was an American wildlife photographer and conservationist from Northern California.[1] The William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge was named in his honor.[2]


He was born on August 9, 1876 in Santa Clara, California to John Pettus Finley and Nancy Catherine Rucker. Finley's parents went west by covered wagon in 1852 from Saline County, Missouri to Santa Clara, California when they were just small children. Finley's middle name, Lovell, was the name of another of the families that went west with the Finleys and Ruckers.[3] Finley's great grandfather was Asa Finley, the first elected judge of Arrow Rock in Saline County,[4] and his uncle was William Asa Finley, the first president of Oregon State University (then named Corvallis College).[5]

Finley married, and he and his wife Irene traveled together on expeditions in the Bearing Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, and mountainous parts of North America. They had two children, a son and a daughter.[6]


In 1905, Finley and Herman T. Bohlman visited and photographed Lower Klamath Lake and Tule Lake. Their report in the November–December issue of Bird Lore helped prompt President Theodore Roosevelt to set the areas aside as federal bird reservations.[7] The same year, Finley was elected to the board of the National Association of Audubon Societies for the Protection of Wild Birds and Animals (which later became the National Audubon Society), to fill the term vacated by Isaac N. Field.[7]

In 1906, Finley was elected the second president of the Oregon Audubon Society (which became the Audubon Society of Portland in 1968).[8]

In 1907, Finley published American Birds, which he and Herman T. Bohlman illustrated.[9] In 1910 he was appointed to study fish and game commissions in other states, and in 1911, based on his information one was set up in Oregon.[6]

In 1925, Finley was appointed by the Oregon Governor Walter M. Pierce to the State Game Commission.[10]

He died on June 29, 1953 in Portland, Oregon.[6]


  1. ^ Worth Mathewson. William L. Finley: Pioneer Wildlife Photographer. Oregon State University Press, Corvallis, Oregon, 1987
  2. ^ William L. Finley (1876-1953), The Oregon Encyclopedia
  3. ^ Carmin J. Finley, "John Finley of Montgomery/Wythe County, Virginia; Additional Children Identified", Virginia Genealogist 1990-1991; Pg 292.
  4. ^ Saline County, Missouri Court Records
  5. ^ OSU Archives - President's Gallery - W.A. Finley
  6. ^ a b c "William Finley, Naturalist, Dead at 75". Associated Press in the Eugene Register-Guard. July 1, 1953. Archived from the original on January 24, 2013. Retrieved 2010-07-11. Finley was appointed in 1910 to study fish and game commissions in other states. His findings led to creation the next year of such a commission in Oregon ... 
  7. ^ a b Bird Lore 12/1905.
  8. ^ Audubon Warbler, newsletter of the Audubon Society of Portland, 7/1968 & 3/1971
  9. ^ William Lovell Finley. American Birds: Studied and Photographed from Life. Charles Scribner's sons, New York, 1907
  10. ^ Bird Lore 11-12/1925:447

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