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George H. Breiding, Naturalist, Papers

Collection Number: A&M.4462

Scope and Contents

Papers of George H. Breiding, 1917-2007, park naturalist for Oglebay Park in Wheeling and extension specialist for West Virginia University (1963-1978). Includes his writings from various publications and personal daily journals, ca. 1943-2007, with bird lists, the temperature, plants sighted, and more. The collection also includes various personal papers and records. Of particular note are his early journals pertaining to his time in the military, 1941-1943. These were digitized for online publication and can be found in the collection in their original format, as facsimiles, and as typed transcripts. In addition to his daily logs, other digitized files include his birding lists from an African safari and a Florida trip; text of an article "Exploring How and Why Birds Sing;" and responses to emails from Michael Breiding asking for comments for his father's memorial service.

The collection includes four series:

Series 1. Writings, 1938–2014
Series 2. Others’ Publications, 1925–2007
Series 3. Nature Logs and Lists, 1934–2015
Series 4. Personal Materials, 1929–2013


  • 1925-2020

Conditions Governing Access

No special access restriction applies

Biographical / Historical

George H. Breiding was born in Wheeling, West Virginia in 1917 to Alfred William and Marie Catherine (Burkhart) Breiding. He was a naturalist who directed Oglebay Institute’s nature education program, and an extension agent for West Virginia University’s Extension Service. He was deeply interested in nature study, wildlife and resource conservation, with a particular emphasis on ornithology.

He graduated from Central Catholic High School in Wheeling and after graduation served as a Technical Sergeant in the Army Air Force, 1941 to 1943, at Lowry Field, Colorado. During this time he wrote daily diaries about Army life and documented the nature he discovered on excursions.

He attended the University of Denver in 1941-1942 and graduated from the Ohio State University in 1948 with a BS in Wildlife Conservation. He went to work for the Ohio Division of Conservation and the National Park Service after graduation.

From 1950 to 1963 Breiding held the position of Director of Nature Education and Naturalist at the A.B. Brooks Nature Center at Oglebay Park in Wheeling. During that period he also wrote a weekly nature column in the "Wheeling Intelligencer" and participated in nature education oriented local radio broadcasts. He also published in the ornithology journals "The Auk" and "The Wilson Bulletin" and popular magazines such as "Wonderful West Virginia Magazine" and "Bird Watchers Digest".

In 1963 he accepted a position as State Program Leader for Outdoor Recreation with the West Virginia University Extension Service in Morgantown. He retired in 1979.

Breiding travelled widely, investigating and researching all aspects of nature but particularly birds, and keeping nature logs and lists. He explored 49 of the 50 states and travelled to Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Canada, Trinidad, Fiji Islands, Ecuador, Colombia, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Galapagos Islands, England, and Scotland. He recorded bird sightings in numerous states and every West Virginia county.

Breiding was a lifelong Catholic and attended weekly Mass at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Morgantown. He was married to and later divorced from Jane Rector Donaldson. He had six children: Joan, Susan, Sutton, Michael, Wayne and William. Breiding died in Morgantown in 2007.


10.4 Linear Feet (10 ft. 5 1/4 in. (5 record cartons, 15 in. each); (4 document cases, 5 in. each); (2 document cases, 4 in. each); (1 flat storage box, 2 1/2 in.); (2 index card boxes, 3 1/2 in. each); (1 index card box, 4 in.); (3 flat storage boxes, 4 in. each); (1 oversize folder, 1/4 in.))

5.23 Megabytes (368 digital files)



Physical Location

West Virginia and Regional History Center / West Virginia University / 1549 University Avenue / P.O. Box 6069 / Morgantown, WV 26506-6069 / Phone: 304-293-3536 / Fax: 304-293-3981 / URL:

Existence and Location of Copies

The Life and Times of George H. Breiding: His Writings, Photos and Memorabilia [Web Page] A digitized copy of Breiding's journals from 1941-1943 documenting his time in the military can be found at the website "".

Separated Materials

Guidelines for Tourism and Travel Development by George Breiding sent to the West Virginia Bibliographer to be added to the book collection in the WV and Regional History Center.
George H. Breiding, Naturalist, Papers
Linda Blake
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the West Virginia and Regional History Center Repository

1549 University Ave.
P.O. Box 6069
Morgantown WV 26506-6069 US