59 School Street, Box 1310, Edgartown MA 02539 - 508.627.4441
Martha's Vineyard Museum MV Museum

A Finding Aid to the Owen Farms and Delano family papers, 1861-1969, undated

Descriptive Summary

Repository Martha's Vineyard Museum Gale Huntington Research Library
59 School Street
P.O. Box 1310
Edgartown, MA 02539
Call Number RU 404
Creator Delano family
Title Owen Farms and Delano family papers
Date [inclusive] 1861-1969, undated
Extent 7 boxes, 1 oversized box (4.115 cubic feet).
Location For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the library's staff.
Language The materials are in English.
Abstract The collection includes materials about Owen Farms, the internationally known Tisbury, Massachusetts, poultry operation managed and later owned by Maurice Delano, as well as Delano's personal papers and materials created by members of the Delano family.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Access to the photographic negatives is RESTRICTED due to preservation concerns. Please contact the Chief Curator for further information regarding the availability of these materials. Restrictions have been noted at the file level.

Use and Reproduction Restrictions

Requests to reproduce material from this collection should be directed to the library's staff. Reproduction fees may apply.

Preferred Citation

Martha's Vineyard Museum, RU 404, Owen Farms and Delano Family Papers.

Acquisition Information

Examples include the following:

  • Gift of Bonnie Waitzkin, September 7, 2006. (Accession no. 2006.079). [Donation]

Publication Information

Martha's Vineyard Museum

Gale Huntington Research Library
59 School Street
P.O. Box 1310
Edgartown, MA 02539

Revision Description

 Addition to the Collection; Series IV: Additions to Collection, [CJ],  August 2015

Processing Information

Finding aid prepared by Barbara Smith, June 2012-February 2014, with assistance from Insley Julier and machine-encoded by Clint Johnson in September 2015

Related Materials

Related Materials

  • See also, Photograph Collection, no. 2006.079.001a, Portrait of Maurice Delano.
  • See also, Oral History Collection.

Index Terms


  • Account books
  • Advertising
  • Advertising art
  • Black-and-white photographs
  • Business records
  • Card photographs
  • Catalogs
  • Clippings
  • Correspondence
  • Negatives
  • Periodicals
  • Postcards
  • Programs
  • School records

Geographic Name(s)

  • Millville (N.J.)
  • Suffield (Conn.)
  • Tisbury (Mass. : Town)
  • Vineyard Haven (Mass.)
  • West Tisbury (Mass.)

Personal Name(s)

  • Chamberlain, J. N. (John Newton), 1841-
  • Delano, Eleanor H., 1905-1983
  • Delano, Helen, 1875-1954
  • Delano, Margaret L., 1903-1988
  • Delano, Maurice, 1875-1960
  • Owen, William Barry, 1860-1914


  • Advertising
  • Agriculture
  • Aviculture
  • Birds--Breeding
  • Chickens
  • Clubs--Massachusetts--Martha's Vineyard
  • Eggs--Production
  • Poultry--Judging
  • Poultry--Periodicals
  • Stamp collecting

Biography/Historical Note

In 1905 Tisbury, Massachusetts, native and international businessman William Barry Owen, a fancy poultry hobbyist, hired Maurice Delano, a well-known fancy poultry breeder, to become the manager of his Tisbury poultry operation, Owen Farms. They began with birds Owen had brought from England. Owen Farms included three farms comprising over 160 acres. There were two properties at Tashmoo in Tisbury, between West Spring Street and Lake Street. The breeding complex was near the Tisbury waterworks overlooking the lake. An adjacent acreage held 6000 birds for commercial egg and meat production. Red Farm was the third farm, located off of Lambert's Cove Road. Under Delano's management, the operation expanded and gained national and international renown. Birds and eggs for hatching were shipped all over the country and the world. Owen Farms was a well-known prizewinner at national poultry competitions. Delano also became a renowned poultry judge. Maurice Delano purchased ownership of the business from the Owen family in 1913. At the time the farms had grown to approximately 300 acres. Delano ran the business until 1929, when the farms closed due to waning interest in fancy poultry.

Maurice Francis Delano was born in 1875 in Troy, New York. He was educated at Falmouth High School in Falmouth, Massachusetts. He subsequently attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, Massachusetts, and was part of the class of 1898. Delano owned his first poultry flock in Falmouth. In 1899, he moved his poultry business to Suffield, Connecticut. A year later he married Helen Calista Halladay, 1875-1954, of Suffield and the couple moved to Millville Poultry Farm in Millville, New Jersey, where Delano was a managing partner and later president. They remained in New Jersey until moving to the island of Martha's Vineyard in 1905. They had three children: Margaret Louise; Eleanor Halladay; and Maurice Francis Jr. Maurice Delano, 1875-1960, raised his family in Tisbury and was active in numerous church, school and civic organizations. On Martha's Vineyard Delano was a Mason, a member of the Duodecimo Club, the Nobnocket Club, the Barnacle Club, the Vineyard Royal Arch, and the First Baptist Church. He was active in helping found the Martha's Vineyard Hospital and served on the Tisbury School committee.

After Owen Farms closed in 1929 Delano and his family left Martha's Vineyard and moved to Dedham, Massachusetts. Delano subsequently worked for Waverly Publications and for the Pratt Food Company. He maintained his interest in poultry and continued to serve as a competition judge and advisor. He was honored by many poultry associations and was elected to the American Poultry Association Hall of Fame. At the time of his death he was the oldest licensed poultry judge in the United States. Maurice Delano died in November 1960 in Haverford, Pennsylvania.

Scope and Content of Collection

The collection includes correspondence, financial records, farm management records and promotional materials related to the Owen Farms state-of–the-art poultry operation. It also contains materials on Delano's poultry work before and after his time at Owen Farms, as well as his personal correspondence and papers. In addition, there are papers from other members of the Delano family, including church and school records, photographs and miscellaneous clippings. Series I contains the business records of Owen Farms such as; a business plan submitted when Delano applied for the job to run Owen Farms, legal papers, handwritten ledger books, ordering postcards, photographs, poultry art work, advertising materials and yearly mating lists. Series II is comprised of Maurice Delano's personal papers including; photographs and records related to the poultry business before he came to Owen Farms. It also includes documents related to his stamp collecting hobby and typed manuscripts for speeches given at various social clubs. Series III includes obituaries for Maurice Delano, correspondence created by Delano family members, school records for the Delano daughters, family photographs, postcards, Margaret Delano's diary, as well as magazines and miscellaneous clippings.


  • Series I: Owen Farms Business Records, 1898-1929, 1956, undated
  • Series II: Maurice Delano Papers, 1889-1905, 1924-1961, undated
  • Series III: Delano Family Papers, 1861-1879, 1905-1969, undated

Contents of Collection

Series I: Owen Farms Business Records, 1898-1929, 1956, undated 

Scope and Content

Series I contains business records, correspondence, black-and-white photographs, artwork used in advertisements, catalogs and publications related to the Owen Farms fancy poultry business, 1898-1929, 1956 and undated. Photographic materials include images of the farm properties, barns and coops, Maurice Delano, flocks of chickens and individual birds. Many of the images of single birds have been touched up. In addition, the series includes correspondence between William Barry Owen and Maurice Delano during the latter's hiring process, a proposed business plan for the farm, as well as bills, receipts and financial records tracking farm expenses. There are a number of mating lists describing different poultry varieties bred and sold by Owen Farms, awards illustrating the quality of the birds for sale, clippings of farm advertisements or chicken art, and mail-order postcards received by the farm. The postcards contain requests for mating lists, poultry orders and reports from customers regarding the condition of orders received.


The series is arranged in loose chronological order, with images filed first, followed by business records and advertising materials.

Box Folder

Advertising Poultry Art, 1898-1923, undated 

1 1

Advertising Poultry Art, circa 1907-1917, undated 

1 2

Advertising Poultry Art, 1907-1919, undated 

OS 7 8

Farm Photographs, 1904, undated 

1 3

Red Farm Photograph, circa 1905 
Author/Creator:  John N. Chamberlain

OS 7 1

Photograph of Maurice Delano, circa 1906 

1 4

Chicken Photographs, between 1905 and 1929, undated 


Most of the images bear no annotations however a few indicate that the birds were from Owen Farms.

1 5

Owen Farms Draft Publication Layout, between 905 and 1929 


Mock-up contains black-and-white photographs of the farm, with a hand-painted cover and little text.

1 6

Glass Plate Negatives of Farm Buildings, between 1905 and 1929 


These items are RESTRICTED.

Photo Cabinet Photo Cabinet

Business Correspondence, 1905-1920 

1 7

Business Plan from Delano to Owen, 1906 

1 8

Farm Receipts and Financial Records, 1906-1928, undated 

1 9

Farm Receipts and Financial Records, 1923-1927 

1 10

Farm Receipts and Financial Records, 1923-1927 

1 11

Announcement of Sale of Farm to Delano, 1913 

1 12

Mating Lists, 1907-circa 1910, undated 

1 13

Mating Lists, 1909-1913, undated 

1 14

Mating Lists, circa 1910, undated 

1 15

Mating Lists, 1912 

2 1

Mating Lists, 1913 

2 2

Mating Lists, 1917-1918 

2 3

Mating Lists, 1921-1925 

2 4

Mating Lists, 1926-1928 

2 5

Awards and Show Results, 1907-1915 

2 6

New York Poultry and Pigeon Association and Madison Square Garden Poultry Show Awards, 1919-1921 

OS 7 9

Circulars, Testimonials and Advertisement Clippings, 1908-circa 1919 

2 7

Owen Farms Advertisement, circa 1906 

OS 7 6

Poultry Culture, 1912 

OS 7 10

Poultry Journal Advertisements and Clippings, 1909-1919 

2 8

Poultry Orders and Shippings Tags, 1927, undated 

2 9

Postcard Orders and Shippings Tags, 1927, undated 

3 1

Postcard Orders, 1928-1929 

3 2

Copy of Deed from Mae M. Owen to Delano, 1929 

3 3

Series II: Maurice Delano Papers, 1889-1905, 1924-1961, undated 

Scope and Content

Series II contains both, personal papers and business records, created by Maurice Delano, 1898-1961 and undated. The business records include catalogs, black-and- white photographs and correspondence from farms in Falmouth, Massachusetts, Suffield, Connecticut and Millville, New Jersey, where Delano worked before coming to Martha's Vineyard. In addition there are magazines and articles about poultry, programs, awards and results from poultry shows around the country. Although Delano changed careers after leaving Owen Farms he remained involved with standard poultry. In 1953, the periodical Poultry Press, did a six part biographical feature on Maurice Delano. Delano's personal papers include student drawings from his days at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, materials related to Delano's stamp collection, manuscripts of presentations he gave to various social clubs and organizations, club membership cards, legal documents related to family estate administration and a few photographs of Maurice Delano.


The series is arranged in loose chronological order with the exception of a small quantity of personal papers related to social clubs and hobbies which are filed last.

Box Folder

Technical Drawings, circa 1894-1898 

OS 7 2

Falmouth Feed Bill and Business Cards, 1893, undated 

3 4

Correspondence, 1898-1923, undated 


The file includes several black-and-white photographs.

3 5

Catalog from Delano's Suffield, Connecticut Farm, 1899-1900 


The file includes a black-and-white photograph.

3 6

Millville Poultry Farm Catalogs, 1900-1903 

3 7

Millville Poultry Farm Catalogs, 1902 

OS 7 5

Millville Poultry Farm Catalogs,  
Author/Creator:  1904-1905

3 8

Millville Poultry Farm Catalogs, 1900-1905 

OS 7 3

Millville Poultry Farm Catalogs, 1900-1905 

OS 7 4

Millville Farm Correspondence and Financial Records, 1904-circa 1905 

3 9

Letter of Administration Related to Brother, 1924 

3 10

Photograph of Delano and Award-Winning Wyandotte, 1929 or after 

3 11

Business Correspondence, 1932-1941, undated 

3 12

Delano Article about Poultry Show, 1935 

3 13

Business Correspondence, 1932-1941, undated 

3 14

Boston Poultry Show Souvenir Catalog, 1948 

3 15

White Plymouth Rock Breeders Club Bulletin, 1950 

3 16

Poultry Press Series on Maurice Delano, 1953 March 26-1953 June 11 

OS 7 11

Oklahoma Award and Program, 1956 

3 17

Awards and Show Results, 1956-1961 

3 18

Awards and Show Results, 1957 

3 19

Duodecimo Club Presentation on Fire Chief Chadwick, between 1905 and 1929 

3 20

Duodecimo Club Presentation on Poultry, between 1905 and 1929 

3 21

Duodecimo Club Presentations on War and Aerial Navigation, between 1905 and 1929 

3 22

Stamp Collection Materials, 1931-1953, undated 

3 23

Stamp Collecting Materials, 1933-1937, undated 

4 1

Club Membership Cards, 1940 

4 2

Series III: Delano Family Papers, 1861-1879, 1905-1969, undated 

Scope and Content

Series III contains papers and black-and-white photographs created by the Delano family, mostly dated between the 1910s and 1940s. Family papers include correspondence, school publications, report cards, commencement programs and a diary. The majority of the papers relate to the Delano children; Margaret, Eleanor and Maurice Jr. The photographs and snapshots depict family members, friends and farm staff. These images include outings to the beach, landscapes, seascapes, damage incurred by a purported Tornado on Martha's Vineyard, celebrations, children in costume, formal portraits, card photographs and many informal snapshots of people seated on front porches and stairways, or posed in front of residences. Finally, the series includes miscellaneous printed materials, such as religious readings, magazines, periodicals and newspaper clippings, as well as a number of 1960 obituaries about Maurice Delano.


The series is arranged in loose chronological order, with correspondence filed first by family member, followed by miscellaneous printed material and ephemera. Photographs are filed at the end of the series in alphabetical order by subject, with miscellaneous and unidentified images filed last.

Box Folder

Delano, Maurice, Helen and Children's Correspondence, 1907-1959, undated 

4 3

Delano, Eleanor Birth Certificate and Childhood Mementos, 1905-1918, 1969 and undated 

4 4

Delano, Eleanor Correspondence, 1914-1923, 1938 

4 5

Delano, Eleanor Report Cards, 1915-1923 

4 6

Delano, Eleanor Diary, 1922-1924 

4 7

Halladay Correspondence, 1938-1955 

4 8

Polishook Family Correspondence, 1938-1955 

4 9

Tisbury School Commencement Programs and Papers, 1918-1934 

4 10

Tisbury Bomb Magazine, 1920-1922 

4 11

Tisbury Bomb Magazine, 1923 

5 1

Religious Readings and Performance Programs, 1861-1879, 1912-1921 

5 2

100th Anniversary of New Bedford Mercury, 1907 

OS 7 7

Michigan and Nantucket Tourist Brochures, 1935, undated 

5 3

Advertising Ephemera, 1936, undated 

5 4

Miscellaneous Clippings, 1921 

5 5

Miscellaneous Clippings, 1944-1967, undated 

5 6

New England Homestead Magazine, 1956 

OS 7 12

Today Magazine, 1958 

OS 7 13

Poultry Press, 1960-1963 


The 1960 issue includes an obituary for Maurice Delano.

OS 7 10

Maurice Delano Obituaries and Tributes, 1961, undated 

5 7

Yarn Rug Catalog and Woman's Day Magazine, 1965, undated 

5 8

Souvenir Postcards and Views, circa 1900-1960 

5 9

Photographs of Beach Outings, Clambakes and Sailing, circa 1890s-1920s 

5 10

Photographs of Children and Friends, circa 1910s-1940s, undated 

5 11

Photographs of Family, circa 1920-1940s, undated 

5 12

Photographs of House, 1921, undated 

5 13

Photographs of Landscapes and Sightseeing Excursions, circa 1920s-1940s, undated 

6 1

Photographs of Tornado at Tashmoo, 1924 

6 2

Miscellaneous Photographs and Portraits, circa 1910s-1940s, undated 


The Folder includes images of Owen Tilton and Mabel Bodfish.

6 3

Miscellaneous Card Photographs and Portraits, 1910-1913, undated 


The folder includes images of Cliff Richardson and Dorothy Richards Swift.

6 4

Miscellaneous Professional Portraits and School Portraits, circa 1913-1923, undated 

6 5

Unidentified Tintype of Child, 1870s 

Photo Cabinet Photo Cabinet

Unidentified Negative and Loose Enclosures, undated 


These items are RESTRICTED.

8 1

Unidentified Negatives, undated 


These items are RESTRICTED.

8 2

Unidentified Negatives, undated 


These items are RESTRICTED.

8 3

Series IV: Additions to Collection, 1913, undated 

Scope and Content

The series contains materials found in an archival survey of the Martha’s Vineyard Museum collections and added to RU 404 in August 2015.

Box Folder

Chicken trophies photograph, undated 

6 6

Delano family horse photograph, undated 

6 7

Eleanor on Shipwreck photograph, undated 

6 8

Gay Head Lighthouse painting, undated 

6 9

Margaret and Eleanor photograph, 1913 

6 10

Matted Silhouette, undated 

6 11

Owen Farm postcard, undated 

6 12

Delano family negatives, undated 

8 3