Series 1. Personal and Biographical, 1842-2012

MS 605

4 boxes (2.5 linear feet)

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Series Overview

This series includes creative and autobiographical accounts, family records, diaries, family genealogies, and newspaper clippings. The largest portion of the series documents June Irey Guild's Learning in Retirement courses, which she took from 1999 to 2009, the notes she kept as a guide at Historic Deerfield from 2001-2004 and the Sunday Services Committee meeting notes from 2004-2008. In addition to these accounts, documents from schools, churches, and organizations record the Irey family's social activities and involvement in the local community. Newspaper clippings contain stories of local interest and history, including a photo from the Oquawka Current showing Katherine and her sister Mary with classmates from Oquawka High School in 1922. One of the earliest documents is a page from the Youth Temperance Advocate in 1842 which includes a song, pledge and a cautionary tale about drinking. The most noteworthy pieces of this series include a birding journal written by Kenneth and Katherine and three remembrance booklets created by June Irey Guild in honor of her mother and father.

Katherine and Kenneth's "Bird Chase Book," chronicles their bird-watching trips from 1979 to 1989. In this journal, the Ireys document their birding adventures in great detail. The journal begins after the Ireys spotted their 700th bird species in 1980, a remarkable feat in the birding world. According to the American Birding Association (ABA) the Ireys were the first couple to spot 700 bird species. In 1980 and 1981 Katherine was ranked the top female birder in the nation. By 1992 the Ireys had spotted a total of 740 species.

The remembrance booklets entitled "Katherine Willard Burgett Irey," "Dad, Grandpa, Poppop: Kenneth Monroe Irey," and "The Irey Family: 1929-1930" were all compiled by June Guild as a means to commemorate the lives of her parents Kenneth and Katherine Irey; these booklets offer a comprehensive history for both Katherine and Kenneth.

The "Kenneth Monroe Irey" remembrance booklet contains three photocopied pieces originally written by Kenneth collaboratively with Katherine in 1979 and provides valuable biographical details and photographic evidence pertaining to the couple. Set in 1927, Kenneth's adventure story "California or Bust!" details his colorful road trip from Illinois to California at age 22, taken with three college friends in a Model-T Ford. In many ways, his retrospective travel narrative conveys the optimism of 1920s America. The second portion includes Kenneth's autobiographical account of his career history in the field of chemical engineering from 1930 until 1970. The final piece of the booklet includes a letter written by Kenneth and Katherine to their two children describing their plans for a bird-watching trip to Attu Island, Alaska.

The "Katherine Willard Burgett Irey" remembrance booklet records the memorial service held for Katherine Irey after her death in 2007. The booklet also contains information about Katherine's impressive bird-watching career, a pastime she thoroughly enjoyed with her husband during their retirement years. Included are two photocopied newspaper articles about Katherine and Kenneth and their birding exploits.

The "Irey Family" remembrance booklet documents Katherine and Kenneth's first ten years of marriage. The most noteworthy aspect of this booklet is the collection of photocopied family photos, the originals not being a part of the larger Burgett-Irey collection. The booklet was made by June Irey Guild as a Christmas present for her children and grandchildren and is comprised of different chapters she originally wrote for her autobiographical writing seminars.

Collection Details




Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries

Katherine and Kenneth Irey
Katherine and Kenneth Irey