Pigeon Museum and Library was formed in 1973. Its original
directors were William Bonwell, W. D. Grimes and Kenneth
Lagree. For several years the AHPI collected miscellaneous
items concerning the history of the pigeon keeping, but
received several major contributions of materials from prominent
members of the hobby.
In 1973, the American
Pigeon Museum and Library received the library and breeding records
of E. Lang Miller, a Buffalo long distance racing enthusiast.
Then in 1996, the Institute received a large portion of
the library, photographic collection and memorabilia of
the late Charles Heitzman, a Kentucky racer and breeder
of racing pigeons. Another major collection donated to the
Pigeon Museum and Library was the Thelma Snyder collection. The most recent collection
donation was by the Dr. Willard Hollander family.
A major push to the establishment of the museum came when
Elwin Anderson, Everett, Washington, issued a challenge
to the pigeon hobby. Anderson agreed to donate $100,000
if the pigeon sport would match his donation. The campaign
to raise the matching funds was called the Million Dollar
March. The pigeon hobby responded. Thelma Snyder of
Pennsylvania contributed $100,000, Milton Haffner of Indiana
contibuted $50,000, and many others made substantial
The Vincent D. Snyder Nursing Fund made the largest contribution.
After the death of Thelma’s husband, Vincent D. Snyder,
Philadelphia fanciers, including Ben Cohen and Dr. Tomassetti,
formed the Vincent D. Snyder Memorial Fund, which was used
to provide scholarships to nursing students at the hospital
with which Dr. Tomassetti was associated. When the hospital
discontinued its nursing program, Dr. Tomassetti and Thelma
arranged for the funds in the Snyder Memorial to be transferred
to the AHPI. The amount was about $213,000, which was the
largest single gift in the Million Dollar Marathon.
As a result of these donations, the American
Pigeon Museum and Library was able to purchase
10 acres in 1993 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, which had an
existing red brick home. The home now houses the library
and museum, as well as the administrative offices.
Subsequent additions include: the National One Loft Race(s)
facility which is home to several hundred competitive racing
homers from flyers across America at any given time, the
Fancy Pigeon Exhibit which holds 20 different varieties
of pigeons, a Roller loft complete with performing pigeons,
the Wright Learning Center, a Scottish Pigeon Tower,
Gold Band Breeding Loft. and
the Event Center, a meeting facility used for special events
and used by Clubs and Individuals on a reservation basis.
We have also added the Thelma Snyder Memorial Garden, a new bridge
that spans a ravine on the property, which provides access
to the new American Pigeon Museum & Library.