Papers of T Michael Clegg

Scope and Content

This small collection of papers reflects Michael Clegg's deep love of nature, particularly ornithology. The greater part is made up of his field notebooks (149 in total) which document his bird watching expeditions around Britain and Europe. Covering the period November 1952 to May 1995, the notebooks record the prevailing weather conditions along with details of birds seen on that day. Amongst the field notes can be found a number of 'project' notebooks with a wider scope of interest, ranging from the mundane 'Scarborough field notes' to the gruesomely entitled 'Mammal skin collection'. Clegg's desire to educate people in the art of bird watching is illustrated most strongly by two notebooks, 'Bird watching- a basic guide' and 'Do it yourself field guide- a mixture of field notes and sketches, worked up drawings, photographs, handy hints etc. from recent notebooks'. The field notebooks are complemented by sets of colour slides taken by Clegg during his expeditions, especially those in Scotland and at various locations in Yorkshire.

Also included is a comprehensive collection of Michael Clegg's column which he wrote for the Yorkshire Evening Post which covered a large and varied amount of natural history and ornithologcial matters. Copies of articles concerning the natural world which he wrote or contributed to are included in the collection, as are the drafts of various short stories, some of which were published.

Administrative / Biographical History

Michael Clegg was born on 19 February 1933 at Birdwell, near Barnsley in South Yorkshire. From 1952 to 1982 he worked as a naturalist and then curator at museums in Sheffield, Scarborough, Doncaster, Batley, Dundee and, finally, the Yorkshire Museum, York. During this time he met and married his wife, Margaret. From 1982 until his death in 1995 he worked as a freelance broadcaster, lecturer and writer on natural history.

His freelance career was a thriving success. He presented 'Country Calendar', 'Strictly for the Birds' and 'Clegg's People' for Yorkshire Televison, the latter of which ran for ten series as well as a number of programmes for the BBC. He also enjoyed an active radio career, contributing to various local and national natural history programmes and was the resident 'professional naturalist' on the BBC Radio 4 programme 'The Conch Quiz'. His writing career was also a success: as well as writing columns for the Dundee Courier and the Yorkshire Evening Post, he wrote two nature based novels and contributed many technical and scientific notes to a range of journals.

Michael Clegg also found time to pass on his knowledge of the natural world through lectures and evening classes and from 1956 to 1991 he was an extra mural lecturer for various universities, including Hull, where he was made an honorary fellow in the Department of Adult Education. He was actively involved with many natural history groups, his various positions included president of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and of the Yorkshire Naturalist's Union, along with vice presidencies of the Leeds Urban Wildlife Group, York Ornithologist's Club and Rossington Natural History Society among many others. He also served as tour leader for coach trips to Austria, Spain, Poland and the Camargne for Steel's Wildlife Tours.

Michael Clegg's achievements and contribution to the study of natural history were recognized in 1993 when he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree by the University of Hull .

Access Information

Access will be granted to any accredited reader

Conditions Governing Use

Mrs M Clegg

Custodial History

Donated by Mrs M Clegg, 25 January 1996 and 29 February 2000

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