Whitehead Collection

Scope and Content

A collection on deer and hunting formed by G. Kenneth Whitehead (1913-2004). The theme of the collection is the health, hunting, behaviour, control and farming of deer throughout the world, also covering the whole family of cervidae.

Books The majority of works on deer concern the red deer but roe, fallow, sika, white-tailed deer and muntjac are also represented as are related animals such as goats, sheep and cattle. There is also a strong emphasis on the world-wide study of hunting, both for deer and other big game. This encompasses its history, organisation, social and legal aspects and its influence on art, design and weapon development. The coverage is extensive and includes catalogues of hunting trophy exhibitions, museums and weapon collections, handbooks and guides to hunting techniques, personal memoirs, histories of individual hunts and hunting organisations, and Parliamentary and other papers on hunting legislation of all kinds.

The collection consists of about 4,700 items including runs of Deer, Deer Farming, Stalking Magazine, The Ark, and Australian Deer. Most of the pre-1800 material, some 50 items, is concerned with the game laws. The bulk of the collection is of 19th and 20th century date and deals with wildlife and hunting in Great Britain and Europe, with particularly good material on deer stalking in Scotland and deer hunting on Exmoor. There is also good coverage of North America, India and New Zealand. Whitehead wrote on deer throughout his life and the collection includes virtually all his printed works and many off-prints of his articles.

Many books contain plates and illustrations by well known wildlife artists such as Frank Wallace, Archibald Thorburn, Vincent Balfour-Browne, Cecil Aldin, J. G. Millais and Sir Edwin Landseer. Of particular note are Captain Thomas Wilkinson's Oriental field sports in the 1807 edition, with forty coloured engravings by Samuel Howitt of hunting scenes in India and Major General Henry Hope Crealock's sets of drawings of Highland stalking produced in the 1870s. These comprise In the forest of Balmacaan, Among the red deer, and Deer stalking in the Highlands of Scotland, the latter incorporating the plates from another of his works The happy hunting grounds of Loch Luichart.

Papers The papers of George Kenneth Whitehead cover his interest in the study of all species of deer. There is also material on sheep, goats and wild cattle as well as the hunting of deer and other big game. It comprises correspondence, conference papers, printed ephemera, working papers, drafts of books by Kenneth Whitehead, copies of letters and articles to periodicals and newspapers, diaries, game books, press cuttings, photographs, films and off prints. It also contains catalogues and correspondence concerning his private museum of deer and deer related items, much of which was dispersed after his death.

Films and photographs The photographs and cinefilms also primarily cover deer, with material on sheep, goats and wild cattle but also more general wildlife interests such as ornithology. The photographs also provide an inventory of Whitehead's museum of objects and specimens relating to deer, his collection of stamps depicting deer and other animals, and other similar ephemera.

Administrative / Biographical History

George Kenneth Whitehead, who used the name Kenneth Whitehead, was born on 16 May 1913, the son of Percy Kay Whitehead and Dorothy Myrtle Whitehead. He was educated at Uppingham School and as a boy was an enthusiastic naturalist, keeping a variety of pets in the house. It was his uncle who in 1930 introduced him to what became a lifelong passion, the study and stalking of deer. He was an accomplished footballer and tennis player and played in goal at amateur level for England on several occasions. Kenneth Whitehead was commissioned in the Royal Artillery during the Second World War, reaching the rank of major and serving in light anti-aircraft batteries in Britain and Ghana. In the late 1940s he began collecting information on the deer stalking season. He produced an annual series of articles for Shooting Times which only ended with his death in 2004. The correspondence and survey forms generated by this project form an important part of his papers. He published some 14 books and innumerable articles on deer and also wrote on goats, wild cattle and sheep. His major works included The Whitehead encyclopedia of deer, The deer of Great Britain and Ireland, Deer of the world and Half a century of Scottish deer stalking. His last work From stags to stamps or Deer in philately remains unpublished.

The collection holds a wide range of working papers for these publications as well as files of letters to The Field, Country Life, Sporting Times and other publications. Widely acknowledged as a world authority on cervidae he worked to ban the use of shotguns in hunting deer, a practice that he considered inflicted unnecessary suffering and which was made illegal with the passage of the 1963 Deer Act. He was active in advising many conservation organisations, was a founder member of the British Deer Society and made several films about deer in Great Britain and New Zealand. Whitehead was a dedicated but discriminating hunter and shot game throughout the world, including Morocco, Ghana, the United States, Canada, Germany, Norway, Australia and New Zealand. Many of these trips are recorded in his diaries and correspondence. He was a conscientious letter writer and his correspondence files reflect this communication with his many friends in the world of hunting and conservation. He served as a judge of deer antlers for the Boone and Crockett Club and the St. Hubert Club of Great Britain and also sat on the hunting trophy commission of the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation. He was a member of the IUCN/SSC Deer Specialist Group and served as adviser to the Dukes of Bedford on the culling of the rare deer species at Woburn Abbey.

In 1947 Kenneth Whitehead became manager of the Wiggins Teape paper mill at Withnell Fold near Bolton in Lancashire and acquired the manager's house there after the mill closed in the late 1960s. He lived at Withnell Fold until his death. He married Nancy Constance Bagot, widow of Caryl Ernest Bagot, Lord Bagot of Bagot's Bromley in 1965. There were no children of this marriage which was dissolved in 1972. On retirement he worked for the Forestry Commission as a deer stalker and was also active in other deer control organisations in Lancashire and Cumbria. Throughout his life he collected heads and skeletons of all species of deer as well as a huge range of material bearing representations of deer; these included porcelain, treen, china, bone and horn items, pipes, pottery figurines, prints, paintings, and stamps. Described in his obituary in The Times as a private man with a wicked sense of humour and a consummate deer stalker and crack shot, Kenneth Whitehead died on 9 June 2004.


The books were selected from Whitehead's larger library by subject - those relating to deer, cervidae and hunting - and retain his book plates and shelmarks written inside.

The papers are arranged as follows:

  • 1. Museum catalogues
  • 2. Diaries and game books
  • 3. Off-prints
  • 4. Press cuttings
  • 5. Printed ephemera
  • 6. Correspondence
  • 7. Papers

The photographs and cinefilms remain in the order and groups in which Whitehead stored them.

Access Information

Open for consultation.

Acquisition Information

Presented by Whitehead and his executors,

Other Finding Aids

The printed collection is in the main catalogue. To restrict the search to the Whitehead Collection, do a shelfmark search on shelfmark Whitehead - or use the following URL http://library.dur.ac.uk/search/c?SEARCH=Whitehead&SUBMIT=Search.

Catalogue of the papers available online at online catalogue.

The photographs and cinefilms have not been catalogued yet.

Separated Material

Objects from the collection are recorded in the 2005 sale catalogue produced by the auctioneers, Tennants, The G. Kenneth Whitehead deer collection: Thursday 21 July 2005 at 1.00 pm, Friday 22 July at 1.00 pm.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Sub-Librarian, Special Collections (e-mail PG.Library@durham.ac.uk) and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. The Library will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Related Material

Some of the deer specimens are now in the care of the University's Department of Biological Sciences.


Master of the deer: G. Kenneth Whitehead is the world's leading authority on deer, Shooting Gazette (June 1999)  A.H. Fraser, The Whitehead Collection at Durham University, Deer (July 2007)

Corporate Names