Author Archive

Save the Date for the Clark’s Summer Exhibition Event!

June 4, 2013

The staff of the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library is pleased to invite you to an exhibition opening and talk on Tuesday, July 2nd.  For An Exhibition in Six Courses: Testing Recipes from the Clark’s Manuscript Collection, Visual Resources Specialist Jennifer Bastian has curated a selection of manuscripts and books relating to 17th and 18th Century cookery.  She has tested several recipes in her home kitchen and will be discussing the process and its results with attendees.  Clark scholar and UCLA Phd candidate Alex Eric Hernandez, who spearheaded the brewing of an authentic Nottingham Ale especially for this event, will also be on hand to add to the discussion.

The library will be open for viewing of the exhibition from 4-7pm, and a short talk in the Outdoor Reading Room will begin at 5pm.  During the reception, Jennifer and Alex will serve guests some of their Nottingham Ale.


The exhibition will be on view from June 30 until the end of September.


Murmurs from the Montana Collection, Part Two: Idah Meacham Strobridge

March 8, 2013

From Nicoletta Beyer, Library Assistant.

“Chasms where the sun comes late, and leaves while yet it is early afternoon.” (Land of Purple Shadows, 2)


My favorite library experiences are born from the discovery of a new book and following its trail through history. The sleuthing can be more fruitful in some cases than others.

In the case of The Land of Purple Shadows (1909), I unearthed an unexpected history of terrible tragedy and personal rebirth. The author of Shadows was a woman named Idah Meacham Strobridge. Born in 1855, she was a wife, mother, and cattle rancher from the Great Basin desert of Nevada. As her parents ran a hotel that hosted many westward travelers, the landscape of Strobridge’s childhood was speckled with wagon trains, new railroads carrying homesteaders, Mexican vaqueros, Chinese placer miners and Native Americans from the Paiute and Bannock tribes. Come the 1880s, Idah met her husband Samuel Strobridge and they began a family together on a ranch not far from her parents.

The Strobridges’ first son died the day after birth. The severe winter of 1888 – 1889 brought blizzards that killed most of the family’s cattle herd and pneumonia took the lives of Idah’s husband and one other son. The following year her last son died as well, leaving Idah alone on a broken ranch in the solitary Nevada desert.


After such catastrophic devastation, Idah Strobridge carried on, working as a guide for prospectors of the mining industry while she maintained the cattle ranch. It was at this time that her identity as mother and wife ended and what remained was an empty slate of the future. She began writing under the pseudonym George W. Craiger and completed three novels; tales of a Nevadan love of desert life as well as painful solitude. She established a book binding business in the attic of her ranch house, the Artemisia Bindery.


In 1901, Strobridge left her Great Basin home behind for a fresh start in Los Angeles, California. Here in Southern California, she recreated her Artemisia Bindery and published her three novels, respectively featuring illustration by Maynard Dixon (see image above) and painting by Frank P. Sauerwen. She was welcomed into the local bohemian fine press and literary culture, becoming close with legends like Mary Austin and Charles Fletcher Lummis, and received awards for her book binding artistry.


Her works are now regarded as icons of the old western desert culture of Nevada, as well as artifacts of Southern Californian book arts history. The Clark Library came into these three limited editions by way of Ward Ritchie in 1996.



Published Works:

Strobridge, Idah Meacham. In Miners’ Mirage-Land. Los Angeles: Baumgardt Publishing Company, 1904.

Strobridge, Idah Meacham. The Loom of the Desert. Los Angeles: Artemisia Bindery, 1907

Strobridge, Idah Meacham. The Land of the Purple Shadows. Los Angeles: Artemisia Bindery, 1909

The Clark’s Night with Coffee: Thierry Rigogne on Myths and Histories of the French Cafe

February 22, 2013

Last night’s visitors to the Clark were full of merriment and nostalgia for cafe culture and coffee itself.  We were thrilled to welcome Thierry Rigogne, Associate Professor, Department of History, Fordham University, to present his lecture, “Myths, Anecdotes, Petite Histoire and Some History, Too: Creating the French Café.”  Further information about Rigogne’s lecture can be found on the Clark/Center calendar.  Prior to the lecture, guests were treated to a coffee tasting provided by Verve Coffee Roasters of Santa Cruz, CA, and mingled on the front steps enjoying the late afternoon sun.

The Clark’s current exhibition also keeps close to the coffee theme.  Shannon K. Supple and Benjamin Aldes Wurgaft curated the exhibition and more information on its contents can be found here.  The exhibition will be on view through March 22, 2013.  Please click-through the gallery below to enjoy images from last night’s event!

This Weekend: Eric Gill Exhibition Opening at Loyola Marymount!

January 24, 2013

From Jennifer Bastian, Visual Resources Specialist.

This Saturday, January 26th, an expansive exhibition of British artist Eric Gill’s work will be on view at Loyola Marymount University’s Laband Art Gallery.  Over 100 works will be featured, including original drawings, engravings and paintings.  The Clark Library is very pleased to be involved in this exhibition so soon after our own celebration of Eric Gill.  We have loaned out one of our most prized Gill pieces: a 5-piece woodblock depicting Our Lady of Lourdes.

courtesy Bridgeman Art Library

This block was originally separated into 3 pieces, which allowed for a 2 color print.  At some point, Gill cut the block into 5 pieces, giving him the ability to create a 4 color print from it.

Lady of Lourdes blocks 2

Here is an example of what the original prints from the full block looked like, and a photograph of our 4-color print.

From Eric Gills Book of Engravings, published by Douglas Cleverdon, 1929

From Eric Gills Book of Engravings, published by Douglas Cleverdon, 1929


As you can see, the carved block alone is a work of art to be appreciated.  It will be on display at the Laband Gallery adjacent to original sketches and drawings created in planning for the carving and subsequent prints.  While we will be paying special attention to our item on display, the dozens of other prints and drawings are a sight to behold.

For a preview of the exhibition, the press release and accompanying images may be viewed here. There are several public programs related to the exhibition that are not to be missed, including a lecture this Saturday.  I will be there, soaking up Gill imagery that both complements and adds new meaning to the Clark’s own collection.  I hope some of our Clark regulars will join us on the other side of town to support this wonderful event!

Laband Art Gallery Presents Extensive Exhibition of British Artist Eric Gill

On View January 26 – March 24, 2013

Opening: Saturday, January 26, 2013

Lecture by curator Thomas Lucas, S.J.: 3pm with reception to follow, 4-6pm


Vigilante Days at the Clark Library

November 19, 2012

From Reading Room Assistant Nicoletta Beyer.

Montana vigilantism was born unto a landscape of frontier mining towns in a territory yet to be incorporated as a state of the union. In the 1860’s while the rest of the nation was busy with a civil war, gold was discovered in the mountains of Montana. Towns like Butte, Helena, Virginia City, and Bannack saw the influx of newcomers arriving to scrape minerals from the land, many down-and-out vagabonds with nothing to lose. The roads that led to and fro mining camps for transportation of gold were often the scenes of bloody looting by a growing number of road agents. Law officials were few and far between, and in the year of 1863 tensions ran high between the rugged sojourners and the proud locals. These towns felt the coexistence of extreme survivalism and opportunism, paired with few places for a vagabond to spend newly acquired mountain riches other than the local saloon.

William Andrews Clark Sr., the Clark Memorial Library’s namesake and the father of the library’s founder, arrived at exactly this pivotal moment in Montanan history. In Bannack of 1863, he began establishing his placer mining fortune. It is his collection that we house today, well versed in the various accounts of these vigilante chronicles.

The Montana Collection is a golden hued arrangement documenting little-known historic moments of the Old West. I have happened upon such bold titles as Shallow Diggin’s, Leather Leggin’s, and How She Felt in her Corset. Then of course I came across a section that hinted at a deeper, darker tale of Montana’s past through titles mentioning “Popular Justice in the Rocky Mountains”, “Vigilante Days and Ways”, “the Story of an Outlaw”, and “Study of the Western Desperado”, among others.

From the years 1860 to 1870 alone, there were an estimated 50 lives lost to vigilante extra legal executions in these small southern Montanan mining towns, most of whom died by lynching. One of the most notable figures of this torrential time was Sheriff Henry Plummer of Bannack, MT. There are conflicting accounts of Plummer’s history, probably not by accident. Henry Plummer was a man who had relocated many times following various criminal allegations and violent exchanges. Most accounts mention him serving as sheriff in Nevada City, California and being involved in a string of pistol duels that led to incarceration in San Quentin State Prison for murder and possibly theft, before his arrival in the Rocky Mountain foothills.

Henry Plummer’s legacy in the Montana vigilante folklore is one of a corrupt sheriff who lead a band of vicious road agents by night and by day posed as a member of the vigilance committee who hunted these very same criminals. When his betrayal came to light, Plummer was hung from the gallows of his very own making.

The vigilance committees addressed local criminal activity from petty theft to child abuse to murder. At some point in the 1870’s the numbers 3-7-77 began to appear at scenes of vigilante aggression; sometimes painted on an accused criminal’s door in the night, and sometimes pinned on the back of a lynched man hanging from the famous Helena Hanging Tree. These tales of enforcing local law in the absence of a structured government have become inextricable from Montanan history and its present day identity. The numbers 3-7-77 became iconic and in 1920 state officials erected Vigilante Trail signage with the numbers showcased in the center. To this day the numbers adorn the car doors of the Montana Highway Patrol. A tourist can still catch a Vigilante Day Parade in Helena, not too far from its Hanging Valley.

This collection is one of our lesser known sets of bound histories here at the Clark, abundant in primary source tales of the tumbleweeds, gallows and pistol duels that remain influential in our present day collective western memory, no matter how distant they seem.

Incomplete Binding, Completed Lecture

November 16, 2012

From Visual Resources Specialist, Jennifer Bastian.

Last month the Clark Library welcomed Nicholas Pickwoad from the University of the Arts London for his lecture, Unfinished Business: Incomplete Bindings Made for the Book Trade from the Fifteenth to the Nineteenth Century. The lecture and accompanying visuals were truly marvelous.  We are so pleased to have hosted this event, which was co-sponsored by The Huntington Library, UCLA Library Special Collections, and UCLA Department of Information Studies, with support from the Breslauer Chair Fund.  It was a great experience for all involved.

More information about this lecture can be found here.


New Acquisition: The 1932 Los Angeles Blue Book of Land Values and, of course, Mr. Clark

November 5, 2012

From Gerald Cloud, Clark Librarian.

The Clark has always been interested in its own history and the library maintains a substantial collection of letters, receipts, invoices, and other materials that document both the construction of the building and the formation of the collections (recall the earlier entry: “I’ll-bet-you-didn’t-know-it-was-at-the-Clark, part 1: an introduction to Mr. Tenniel” ).  The Clarkive, as it is referred to locally, is a rich resource for the book trade as well as the building trades, albeit, at the higher end of the scale.  IN keeping with our efforts to document the Clark, its building, and the contemporary period in which Mr. Clark lived in Los Angeles, we recently acquired the following book from local bookseller John Howell:

The title of the guide will be familiar to automobile-dependent Angelenos, but this Blue Book aims to provide a comprehensive survey of Los Angeles land values, circa 1932.  The area it covers is shown in this key map:

Of greatest interest to the Clark is page 149, which shows how our West Adams neighborhood looked before the 10 freeway was built.

The guide is illustrated with various building types and a wealth of information on real estate and property values.  Mr. Clark passed away shortly after the publication of this guide, so the Los Angeles shown here is the one he knew at the end of his life.

Not by Oscar Wilde: A Clark Quarterly Lecture

November 2, 2012

We were recently graced by the presence of a former Clark Fellow, Gregory Mackie, when he came to present his lecture Not By Oscar Wilde: Literary Forgery and Authorial Performance.  This lecture was a part of the Clark Quarterly lecture series.  Details about the lecture and upcoming Clark Quarterly lectures can be seen here.

Below is a gallery of images from the event – a great time was had by all.

Writing in books: the library of François-Louis Jamet

September 27, 2012

From Gerald Cloud, Head Librarian

For scholars and historians of the book, reader reception is one of the most difficult things to measure when evaluating how original or early owners responded to and interacted with the books they possessed.  Frequently, one can draw some conclusions about a reader’s response to a book from examining a list of titles of books owned by a particular person.  For example, one learns a great deal about the taste and sensibilities of book collector and New York attorney John Quinn (1870-1924) from reading the sale catalog of his personal library.  An important patron of the arts, Quinn collected books by English, American, and Irish authors, including Oscar Wilde.  Below is Quinn’s copy of Wilde’s Poems, London, 1882, autographed by Wilde:

Incidentally, the book sold at the Quinn sale (lot number 11058) in 1924 for $40.00, and Mr. Clark acquired it from A.S.W. Rosenbach for a ten percent commission.

The personal library of David Foster Wallace held by the Harry Ransom Center, Univeristy of Texas, Austin, and the Clark’s online database of books from Oscar Wilde’s Tite Street Library (beta site here) are two resource that offer an entry point into the libraries of authors who left marks in their books.  Although Wallace and Wilde both expressed their response to the books they read through marginalia and annontations, they cannot hold a candle to the erudite bibliophile François-Louis Jamet (1710-1778).

Jamet was a renowned enlightenment era book collector, a compulsive annotator, and a critic of contemporary intellectual, political, and religious thought in pre-revolutionary France.  The Clark recently acquired 17 volumes from Jamet’s library, the Claude Lebédel collection, and each volume contains marginalia, commentary, notes, extra-illustrations, and in a few cases the books have nearly as much manuscript material as they do printed text.

CAPTION: Shown here is the frontispiece to a volume of 20 different texts compiled and extensively annotated by Jamet, in which he comments on philosophy, religion, literature, medicine, natural history and more.

Most of Jamet’s personal library ended up in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, although some volumes remain in private hands.  The Lebédel collection ranges from an anti-Calvinist text of 1572, to two profusely illustrated adaptations of Aesop’s Fables (1678) and Ovid’s Metamorphoses (1679) by Isaac de Benserade, bound together by Jamet in 1766, to the prize volume of the collection, a clandestine edition of Voltaire’s Dictionnaire Philosophique, printed in Nancy, 1765, in which nearly every page is covered with Jamet’s remarks.

Jamet has added his own entries to Voltaire’s Dictionnaire, documenting his sources with citations from other texts, as well as identifying the correct location and printer of this edition in a manuscript note of the title page.

The scholarly richness of the collection is superb and will provide researchers with a multitude of entry points for understanding the thought, reading practices, and intellectual life of pre-revolutionary France.

Space Shuttle Endeavor peeks over the Clark’s roof!

September 21, 2012

We didn’t plan on viewing the space shuttle Endeavor on its flyover route today, but Librarian Nina Schneider recommended we head outside.  It was quite a shock to see the giant shuttle so low to the ground!  With a quick snap of an iPhone, we did manage to get one fun photo of the shuttle over our roof.   Mr. Clark would have been so pleased.

The nose of the shuttle appears just above the center of the Clark roof.

We hope all of our Los Angeles friends had a great view as well!