Original material: The papers have significant Dutch material before the move to Oxford, including letters from Tinbergen to his family from East Prussia 1925, Greenland 1932-1933, Altenberg 1937 and the hostage camp 1942. Tinbergen's research is represented by documentation of field observations and laboratory experiments in the Netherlands and Britain. The field notes, for example, date from 1928 and are characterised by Tinbergen's thumb-nail sketches of the subjects of his observations. There are records of his university teaching and invitation and public lectures from the Oxford period, including his contributions to the new multidisciplinary School of Human Sciences. The autism investigation is very extensively documented by nearly twenty years' correspondence with scientific colleagues, therapists and others responsible for the care and treatment of autistic children, and drafts of Tinbergen's lectures, articles and monograph on the subject. General scientific correspondence is by contrast slight. The correspondence with Lorenz, E. Mayr and Tinbergen's brother Jan, who was awarded the 1969 Nobel Prize for Economics, though disappointing in extent, is probably the most significant. There are also Tinbergen's sketches of his fellow Second World War hostages, and drawings for his children's books about Kliew the seagull (New York 1947) and The Tale of John Stickle (London 1954).
Supplementary Papers: The papers relate entirely to the latter part of Tinbergen's career at Oxford and document aspects of his career unrepresented in the original collection of papers including research funding, societies and organisations and visits and conferences.
There are papers relating to the funding of Tinbergen's research at the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, 1959-1975. They illustrate Tinbergen's personal research areas, his interest in the production of scientific films as an educational tool, the advancement of ethological studies in general and the application of ethological principles to the study of mankind. The papers include correspondence, application forms, reports and financial statements. Research funding bodies with which Tinbergen dealt include the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, the Science Research Council, the Medical Research Council, the Nature Conservancy and the United States Air Force, European Office of Aerospace Research, Brussels, Belgium.
A number of Tinbergen's associations with professional and public bodies are documented in the supplementary collection. These include the Department of Science and Industrial Research (from 1965 the Science Research Council) in connection with Tinbergen's membership of a Working Party on Animal Behaviour Research, the Nuffield Foundation in connection with his participation in the Science Teaching Project where he was a member of the School Biology Project Consultative Committee, the Royal Society including his participation in a Royal Society study group that discussed current research in non-verbal communication in animals and man, and the Serengeti Research Institute which Tinbergen served as a member of its Scientific Council. Visits and conferences material consists mainly of correspondence, 1962-1970, relating to the organisation of the biannual International Ethological Conferences. There is also a group of photographs featuring delegates of the Fourteenth International Ornithological Congress held at Oxford in 1966. Tinbergen was the Secretary General of the Congress.