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Before Oz

The Book of the Hamburgs

L. Frank Baum’s first book, published fourteen years before he wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, summarized ten years of experience raising and breeding Hamburg chickens. Baum, the wealthy son of an oil magnate, succumbed to the national infatuation with fancy poultry and began breeding Hamburgs in 1876, when he was twenty. His interest in the birds proved to be more than just a passing fancy. He established the monthly trade journal, The Poultry Record, in 1880, and published The Book of the Hamburgs: a brief treatise upon the mating, rearing and management of the varieties of Hamburgs, in 1886.