While moving material to get ready for our seismic retrofit project, I came across the Clark Library guest book, begun by William Andrews Clark, Jr. in 1924 and used until 1957, when the pages were completely filled. Because this item was stored in a different location than the rest of the Clarkive (as we affectionately call our institutional archive), I had actually never seen it before.
Bound in repurposed antiquarian binding, the guest book’s pages (at least those from the years Mr. Clark was alive; I didn’t examine the post-1934 pages closely) contain a who’s who of Clark family and friends, library and book collecting luminaries, Los Angeles and Montana society folks and a smattering of Hollywood celebrities.
- Robert E. Cowan, Clark Librarian and bibliographer
- Cora Edgerton Sanders, Clark Librarian and longtime family employee
- Harrison Post, Assistant Librarian and Mr. Clark’s romantic partner
- John L. Templeman of Butte, UVa classmate, lawyer and close friend
- D.F. Bogardus, bookbinder from the Huntington Library
- Judge William I. Lippincott of Butte, family friend
- Robert O. Schad, Head Librarian at the Huntington Library
- Alice Millard, bookseller and owner of La Miniatura
- John Henry Nash, printer
- Robert D. Farquhar, architect of the Clark Library
- Caroline Estes Smith, secretary of the Los Angeles Philharmonic
- Parish Williams, baritone and insurance agent
- Virginia M. Tanner, widow of Walter Miller Clark, Mr. Clark’s cousin who died on the Titanic
- James R. Polsdorfer, UC Berkeley alum – his connection to Clark is unclear
- Georges Jomier, French teacher and language coach
- Allyn Cox, muralist and painter of Clark Library murals
- William A. Clark, III, Mr. Clark’s son
Other visitors documented in the book were a little bit more of a surprise:
Silent film heartthrob Ramon Novarro lived just steps away from the Clark library & estate, and was part of a tour party on April 1, 1930 that also included his close friend Florence “Pancho” Barnes (pioneering female aviator), Louis Samuel (Novarro’s assistant who built this landmark house and also embezzled most of Novarro’s money), Grace Marion Brown (Samuel’s girlfriend and an illustrator who designed some of Mr. Clark’s Christmas cards), Robert I. & Josephine Rogers (former bank executive who owned a Robert Farquhar home in Beverly Hills), and Charles and Kathleen Hamill (lawyer and member of Chicago Symphony Orchestra board of directors).
Because most of Mr. Clark’s personal correspondence and papers no longer survive, any sources for information about his extended social circle are extremely valuable to us. There are hundreds of visitors recorded between 1924 and Mr. Clark’s death in 1934, and for all of the names that I recognize, there are many more that I don’t. I will continue to share more pages from the guestbook over the coming months and will be looking for some help to uncover information about who these visitors to the library really were – the pages above can’t be the only ones that contain fascinating people. Stay tuned for more updates and more images soon!