Alice at 150

An illustration of the White Rabbit by John Tenniel in the suppressed 1865 edition of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, rendered here in black and white. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

An illustration of the White Rabbit by John Tenniel in the suppressed 1865 edition of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, rendered here in black and white. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Throughout the United States and Britain, Lewis Carroll’s immortal little girl is being fêted on the occasion of her 150th birthday—with exhibits and events, plays and performances.

Martin Gardner’s classic The Annotated Alice was reissued last year in a “150th Anniversary Deluxe Edition.” A new musical based on Alice in Wonderland opened in Manchester, England, last June, and an original sculpture of the Mad Tea Party will be unveiled in Houston, Texas, later this year. The British Library, the University of Maryland, and the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia have pulled out their Carrollian holdings for special exhibitions.

And, closer to home, booklovers who attend the 49th California International Antiquarian Book Fair—to be held February 12–14 at the Pasadena Convention Center—will have an opportunity to enjoy a special exhibit featuring books, illustrations, papers, and original ephemera from the University of Southern California’s Cassady Lewis Carroll Collection.

Alice attacked by a pack of cards in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, illustrated by Arthur Rackham, 1907. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Alice attacked by a pack of cards in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, illustrated by Arthur Rackham, 1907. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

The inquisitive might wonder exactly what is being celebrated. Is the anniversary in 2015? Or 2016? The answer lies in the very rare first appearance of Alice in Wonderland in print, a copy of which resides in The Huntington’s rare book collection.

The tale’s genesis during the summer of 1862, during a boating trip that Carroll made with Alice Liddell and her sisters on the River Isis, and Carroll’s subsequent creation of an illustrated manuscript version are well known. Literary friends of the author encouraged him to seek a publisher, and by the summer of 1864, John Tenniel had agreed to provide the woodcut illustrations for a volume to be published by the London firm of Macmillan. However, the first press run, which appeared in the summer of 1865, was deemed unsatisfactory, primarily because of the print quality of the illustrations, and all but 20-odd of the 2,000 copies were warehoused. A second printing, dated 1866, met the artist’s exacting standard, and it is this version of Alice that we know as the official “first edition.” Hence the anniversary that begins in 2015 and ends in 2016!

The Huntington is one of the few libraries that owns both the suppressed 1865 version and the official publication of 1866. Our copy bears the autograph of George Dalziel, the engraver of the illustrations and the original owner of the volume. Laid into it is a crucial bit of Alice in Wonderland history—a letter from the artist Tenniel to the engraver Dalziel, explaining that his complaints about the substandard printing had led to the suppression of the entire edition.

The Mad Tea Party scene in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, illustrated by Arthur Rackham, 1907. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

The Mad Tea Party scene in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, illustrated by Arthur Rackham, 1907. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

However, the nearly 2,000 “defective” copies from the 1865 printing did not end up in the dustbin, but rather overseas—despite the original intentions of the author and the publisher. The printed sheets were shipped to New York, where they were reissued under the imprint of Appleton and Company and dated 1866.

A copy of this American “first edition” may also be found among The Huntington’s collections, along with many later versions, including a 1907 edition with illustrations by Arthur Rackham—very lovely but quite different from Tenniel’s vision.

Regardless of how they are depicted, Alice’s adventures will no doubt continue to fascinate and delight readers for many decades to come.

Frontispiece to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, illustrated by John Tenniel, 1865, rendered here in black and white. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Frontispiece to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, illustrated by John Tenniel, 1865, rendered here in black and white. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

A special preview event opens the Antiquarian Book Fair on Friday, Feb. 12, from 3 to 8 p.m. Tickets for the preview are $25 (good for reentry throughout the fair), and proceeds will benefit The Huntington. Weekend tickets are $15 on Saturday, Feb. 13 (11 a.m.–7 p.m.), and Sunday, Feb. 14 (11 a.m.–5 p.m.).

Friday preview tickets will entitle the holder to one complimentary entry to The Huntington, valid throughout the month of February. Saturday and Sunday tickets include free entry to The Huntington the weekend of the Book Fair.

The fair is sponsored by the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America and the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers. For additional information, visit the book fair’s website.

Laura Stalker is the Avery Associate Director of the Library at The Huntington.

Art and the Garden Movement

Charles Courtney Curran (1861–1942), A Breezy Day, 1887, oil on canvas, 11 15/16 x 20 in. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Henry D. Gilpin Fund.

Charles Courtney Curran (1861–1942), A Breezy Day, 1887, oil on canvas, 11 15/16 x 20 in. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Henry D. Gilpin Fund.

The relationship between garden design and painting is the subject of “The Artist’s Garden: American Impressionism and the Garden Movement, 1887–1920,” on view Jan. 23–May 9 in the MaryLou and George Boone Gallery. It explores the connections between the American Impressionist movement and the emergence of gardening as a middle-class leisure pursuit.

Featured in the exhibition is a selection of 17 handpicked paintings from an exhibition that originated at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. The Huntington’s show includes examples from such noted American Impressionist painters as Philip Leslie Hale (1865–1931), Childe Hassam (1859–1935), and Anna Lea Merritt (1844–1930).

Anna Lea Merritt (1844–1930), Piping Shepherd, 1896, oil on wood, 26 1/8 x 21 5/8 in. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Henry D. Gilpin Fund.

Anna Lea Merritt (1844–1930), Piping Shepherd, 1896, oil on wood, 26 1/8 x 21 5/8 in. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Henry D. Gilpin Fund.

Beautiful to look at, these paintings also reflect aspects of American life in the late 19th and early 20th century. Industrialization gave parts of the population more free time for gardening in new suburban backyards, and railroads allowed daytrips to the countryside—offering come city dwellers a taste of nature.

American artists were also contributing to the garden movement by depicting the results of this new hobby in their works on paper, canvas, and glass. In her introduction to the exhibition’s catalog, Anna O. Marley, curator of Historical American Art at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, explains that the increasing professionalization of art-making meant that artists, too, had become members of the middle class.

Childe Hassam (1859–1935), The Hovel and the Skyscraper, 1904, oil on canvas, 34 3/4 x 31 in. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, The Vivian O. and Meyer P. Potamkin Collection, bequest of Vivian O. Potamkin.

Childe Hassam (1859–1935), The Hovel and the Skyscraper, 1904, oil on canvas, 34 3/4 x 31 in. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, The Vivian O. and Meyer P. Potamkin Collection, bequest of Vivian O. Potamkin.

“Many of these artists had traveled to Europe, especially France,” says Marley, “where they were exposed to the modernist style of Impressionism. Lingering in the French countryside and in the public parks of Paris, they experimented with impressionist principles of plein-air painting, the study of light, with direct, unmediated compositions, and the application of unmodulated color in quick brushstrokes.”

“The Artist’s Garden” presents an American take on Impressionism. The works are largely domestic pictures about yards, parks, and gardens, or even the middle of the city, such as Childe Hassam’s The Hovel and the Skyscraper, in which construction starts to obscure the artist’s view of Central Park. The painting shows a contrast between two seemingly opposing elements—the “slow cadence of the snow-covered park” and the “frantic Manhattan real estate market,” says James Glisson, The Huntington’s Bradford and Christine Mishler Assistant Curator of American Art.

Philip Leslie Hale (1865–1931), The Crimson Rambler, ca. 1908, oil on canvas, 25 1/4 x 30 3/16 in. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Joseph E. Temple Fund.

Philip Leslie Hale (1865–1931), The Crimson Rambler, ca. 1908, oil on canvas, 25 1/4 x 30 3/16 in. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Joseph E. Temple Fund.

The very plants and flowers that appear in the paintings are also telling. Garden hobbyists were seeking out seeds, tools, and fertilizer for their new suburban backyards, and new hybridizing techniques were creating ever larger and brighter flowers and bigger and more colorful fruits and vegetables.

At first glance, for instance, Phillip Leslie Hale’s The Crimson Rambler (ca. 1908) looks like a simple scene of summer, portraying an elegant young woman seated next to a cascade of blooming roses. Seen through the lens of the period, the painting takes on greater meaning. The ‘Crimson Rambler’ was a recently hybridized rose variety that had become wildly popular. To many viewers at the time, the appearance of this trendy hybrid marked the painting as contemporary and sophisticated.

“The Artist’s Garden” will likely appeal to both artists and gardeners. It may also pique the curiosity of social historians, who might gaze at these magnificent gardens and detect a range of clues that tell the story of how some Americans lived a century ago.

Henry Asbury Rand (1886–1961), Snow Shadows, 1914, oil on canvas. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, John Lambert Fund.

Henry Asbury Rand (1886–1961), Snow Shadows, 1914, oil on canvas. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, John Lambert Fund.

Over the span of the exhibition, a newly installed garden outside of the gallery will take shape. The plants were chosen to evoke the classic gardens of the era as painted by the American Impressionists and will feature delphinium, foxglove, snapdragon, and sweet pea, as well as later appearances by poppies and red flax.

The exhibition catalog, The Artist’s Garden: American Impressionism and the Garden Movement, is available from the Huntington Store.

Diana W. Thompson is senior writer for the office of communications and marketing at The Huntington.

Celebrating Octavia Butler

Detail of photograph of Octavia E. Butler, photographer unknown, 2001. Octavia E. Butler papers. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Detail of photograph of Octavia E. Butler, photographer unknown, 2001. Octavia E. Butler papers. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

This year is the 10th anniversary of the great science fiction writer Octavia E. Butler’s untimely death; next year marks what would have been her 70th birthday. Butler created a body of work that helped launch a new genre called Afro-Futurism, which has become the focus of a remarkable amount of scholarly activity of late.

After her death, The Huntington became the recipient of her papers, which arrived in 2008 in two four-drawer file cabinets and about 35 large cartons. Butler’s papers required intense processing over the next three years. “She kept nearly everything, from her very first short stories, written at the age of 12, to book contracts and programs from speaking engagements,” says Natalie Russell, assistant curator of literary manuscripts at The Huntington.

The phenomenal body of materials includes 8,000 individually cataloged items and more than 80 boxes of additional items: extensive drafts, notes, and research materials for more than a dozen novels, numerous short stories, and essays, as well as correspondence, ephemera, and commonplace books. By the time Russell had finished the monumental task of processing the collection, an unprecedented 40 scholars were lined up to take a look. Today, it’s one of the most actively used archives at the Library. “Since May 2014, the archive has been used nearly 1,300 times—or roughly 15 times per week, on average,” says Russell. And things are about to get even livelier.

Working draft of Octavia E. Butler’s novel Kindred (formerly titled To Keep thee in All Thy Ways) with handwritten notes by Butler, ca. 1977. Octavia E. Butler papers. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Working draft of Octavia E. Butler’s novel Kindred (formerly titled To Keep thee in All Thy Ways) with handwritten notes by Butler, ca. 1977. Octavia E. Butler papers. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Clockshop, a Los Angeles-based arts organization, is partnering with several other local organizations and institutions—including The Huntington, the Library Foundation of Los Angeles’ ALOUD series, and the Armory Center for the Arts, to name a few—on a yearlong series of events celebrating Butler’s life and work. The project, called “Radio Imagination,” was announced today.

At the core of the project is a series of artist and writer commissions to create new works based on The Huntington’s Butler archive. Associated talks, performances, and literary events will take place at various venues throughout the year. One of these events—a panel discussion with philosopher Amy Kind and scholar Shelley Streeby—will take place at The Huntington this fall.

Looking ahead to 2017, Russell will curate an Octavia Butler exhibition in the West Hall of the Library, and The Huntington will host a scholarly conference about Butler and her work.

Get ready to celebrate this legendary writer in the not-too-distant future.

Handwritten notes on inside cover of one of Octavia E. Butler’s commonplace books, 1988. Octavia E. Butler papers. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Handwritten notes on inside cover of one of Octavia E. Butler’s commonplace books, 1988. Octavia E. Butler papers. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

You can learn more about “Radio Imagination” on the Clockshop website.

You can learn more about the Octavia E. Butler collection here.

Kevin Durkin is editor of Verso and managing editor in the office of communications and marketing at The Huntington.

 

Thomas Browne and His World

In his scientific writing, Thomas Browne reveled in the mysteries of nature—how a caterpillar turns into a butterfly, for instance, or why stones and flowers assume certain regular shapes. He also debunked myths about fantastical creatures, such as the phoenix, the gryphon, and the amphisbaena (a mythical serpent with a head at each end). Detail from Christian Egenolff’s Herbarum, arborum, fructicum, frumentorum ac leguminum, 1552. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

In his scientific writing, Thomas Browne reveled in the mysteries of nature—how a caterpillar turns into a butterfly, for instance, or why stones and flowers assume certain regular shapes. He also debunked myths about fantastical creatures, such as the phoenix, the gryphon, and the amphisbaena (a mythical serpent with a head at each end). Detail from Christian Egenolff’s Herbarum, arborum, fructicum, frumentorum ac leguminum, 1552. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

The idiosyncratic physician, essayist, and naturalist Thomas Browne (1605–82) produced a diverse body of writings that reveal a cornucopian range of interests at once scientific and religious: burial practices and mortality (Urn-Burial), the geometrical patterning of nature (Garden of Cyrus), and the perpetuation of errors and falsehoods across various disciplines (Pseudodoxia Epidemica, or Vulgar Errors). Browne’s interests were not singular to him but emerged out of conversations with some of the most influential natural philosophers of his era—such as Bacon, Descartes, Boyle, and Hooke—as well as conversations with his many correspondents and figures from the medieval and classical past.

To retrace the paths of these conversations, I am convening a dozen scholars at The Huntington on Jan. 22 and 23 for a conference titled “Truth and Error in Early Modern Science: Thomas Browne and his World.” The conference will bring together a half-dozen scholars working directly on Browne with six more whose work addresses broader developments in the scientific and intellectual culture of 17th-century England and Europe.

Browne strove, in his writing, to reveal nature’s mysteries, such as the hidden crevices of the subterranean world. Detail from Athanasius Kircher’s Mundus subterraneus, 1678. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Browne strove, in his writing, to reveal nature’s mysteries, such as the hidden crevices of the subterranean world. Detail from Athanasius Kircher’s Mundus subterraneus, 1678. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Six of our participants, including myself, are currently working on a new scholarly edition of Browne’s Complete Works for Oxford University Press. Given the encyclopedic breadth of his writings, editing Browne is a remarkable conversation-starter, one that has obliged me to reach out to fellow scholars for expertise on subjects ranging from the circulatory system of trees and technical treatises on gunpowder to the making of porcelain in 17th-century China and early modern attempts to locate the source of the Nile. “Truth and Error” will allow select members of the Browne editorial team to have a sustained conversation with fellow scholars whose assistance we need most: intellectual and literary historians of 17th-century England, as well as early modern historians of science whose research focuses on some of the scientific topics of greatest interest to Browne—mineralogy, technology, astronomy, and mathematics.

Who was Thomas Browne? A physician, trusted for his expertise and bedside manner, and one who expressed contempt for the expensive and ineffective medicines prescribed by the medical charlatans of his day. A lay theologian who confessed his youthful vulnerability to various heresies and prided himself on his willingness to pray alongside Catholics and “converse and live” among the Jews of 17th-century Italy. A collector of natural oddities, curious about everything from the volcanoes of Iceland to the sex life of plants, whose domestic menagerie included an ostrich.

Browne was also a master prose stylist whose syntactic acrobatics and arcane, heterogeneous diction has been admired and imitated by subsequent writers—including Samuel Johnson, Coleridge, and Borges. He has always been a literary and intellectual hero for eccentrics and outliers, a “cracked Archangel,” as Herman Melville once called him.

But whereas Virginia Woolf, writing in 1923, observed that “Few people love the writings of Sir Thomas Browne,” the writer is currently enjoying a flood of attention from a new generation of scholars fascinated with his eclecticism, congeniality, tolerance, and curiosity about the natural world.

A committed experimentalist whose methods as a physician and naturalist anticipated and eventually complemented the labors of the Royal Society, Browne nonetheless diverged in certain respects from the prevailing spirit of scientific observation and experiment by exploring not only the natural, but also the mystical signification of what his Garden of Cyrus termed the “Quincunctiall” patterns he discerned throughout the plant and animal world. (An example of a quincunx is the pattern of dots on the five-side of a die.) Nature, to Browne, was both an open book and a hidden, recondite alphabet of symbols, a “common Hieroglyphick,” as he calls it in Religio Medici. Pages, rendered here in black and white, from Thomas Browne’s Hydriotaphia, urne-buriall, or a discourse of the sepulchrall urnes lately found in Norfolk: Together with The garden of Cyrus, or The quincunciall lozenge, or net-work plantations of the ancients, artificially, naturally, mystically considered, 1658. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

A committed experimentalist whose methods as a physician and naturalist anticipated and eventually complemented the labors of the Royal Society, Browne nonetheless diverged in certain respects from the prevailing spirit of scientific observation and experiment by exploring not only the natural, but also the mystical signification of what his Garden of Cyrus termed the “Quincunctiall” patterns he discerned throughout the plant and animal world. (An example of a quincunx is the pattern of dots on the five-side of a die.) Nature, to Browne, was both an open book and a hidden, recondite alphabet of symbols, a “common Hieroglyphick,” as he calls it in Religio Medici. Pages, rendered here in black and white, from Thomas Browne’s Hydriotaphia, urne-buriall, or a discourse of the sepulchrall urnes lately found in Norfolk: Together with The garden of Cyrus, or The quincunciall lozenge, or net-work plantations of the ancients, artificially, naturally, mystically considered, 1658. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Jessica L. Wolfe is professor of English and Comparative Literature and director of the program in Comparative Literature at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is the author of Homer and the Question of Strife from Erasmus to Hobbes (2015), published by University of Toronto Press, and Humanism, Machinery, and Renaissance Literature (2004), available from Cambridge University Press.

Symbolism in Medieval Lists

Detail from Book of Hours, Sarum use, Flanders, mid-15th century (HM 1144). The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Photo by Kate Lain.

Detail from Book of Hours, Sarum use, Flanders, mid-15th century (HM 1144). The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Photo by Kate Lain.

As a teenager, I thought it would be fun to collect lists, especially the kind that are known by their numbers: the 10 essentials for day hiking, which I learned as a Girl Scout, or the 12 ways that Wonder Bread helped build strong bodies, a list I liked even though TV ads never specified the 12. My interest in lists persisted and eventually met its match when I discovered the Middle Ages and its abundance of lists with numbers in their titles: from the four evangelists to the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus to the 15 signs of doomsday, here was a trove of lists to occupy a would-be collector of lists for quite some time.

The number in a list’s title, I soon understood, was the key to remembering its contents. Considering the five senses, for instance, I can assign one sense to each of the five fingers on one hand and be certain that I’ve listed them all. But for those living in medieval times, numbers also had symbolic significance. In keeping with the five senses, the number five symbolized the body, including the most important body to medieval Christians, the body of Christ. Christ’s body and blood were the spiritual focus of the church’s highest rite, the Eucharist. The visual focus of parishioners partaking of that sacrament was a crucifix, upon which they could easily count five wounds: one in each of Christ’s hands and feet made four and another in his side made five.

Page from Book of Hours, Sarum use, Flanders, mid-15th century (HM 1086). The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Page from Book of Hours, Sarum use, Flanders, mid-15th century (HM 1086). The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

As the quintessence of Christ’s bodily sacrifice, the five wounds inspired many poems, prayers, and works of visual art, some of which involved additional lists of five. Compilations of lists are everywhere in the literature of medieval Christianity, and given the symbolic value and mnemonic utility of key numbers, it is easy to see why there are multiple lists using the same number. Such compilations are usually instructive: for instance, the pairing of the seven deadly sins with the seven heavenly virtues forms a set of directions for combatting vice with virtue.

Other compilations are surprising and delightful for the way they forge imaginative connections across the categories they bring together. Such is the case with a set of prayers on the five wounds that can be found in several books of hours in The Huntington’s collection of medieval manuscripts. These prayers pair the list of Christ’s wounds with a list of five rivers: the river of paradise and the four rivers that flow from it. The wounds of the hands correspond to the rivers Pishon and Gihon; the wounds of the feet, to the Euphrates and the Tigris. The side wound relates to the river of paradise itself, for just as the side wound is near the pulsing source of all five wounds (Christ’s heart), the four other rivers emanate from the river of paradise. According to Genesis 2.10, those four rivers are the source of all the rivers in the world. With this biblical geography in mind, worshipers could envision the wounds in Christ’s four extremities as rivers of redemption that irrigate the far reaches of the planet.

Detail from Book of Hours, Sarum use, Flanders, mid-15th century (HM 1086). The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Detail from Book of Hours, Sarum use, Flanders, mid-15th century (HM 1086). The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

This set of prayers was written in Latin, putting its analogies beyond the reach of some readers. For them, a series of images that sometimes accompanied the prayers provided an intriguing visual translation. These miniature paintings, which appear in two of The Huntington’s books of hours, depict each wounded hand and foot separately, and juxtapose each with a minimalist representation of water. Visually arresting in their own right, they are even more powerful when considered in light of their symbolism, for they suggest not only an analogy, but also an anatomical connection between the flow of the four rivers of paradise and the flow of blood from Christ’s wounds, a connection that also intimates a passage to paradise through worship of the wounds.

Map of rivers of the world, from Cosmography; astrological medicine, 1486–1488 (HM 83). The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Map of rivers of the world, from Cosmography; astrological medicine, 1486–1488 (HM 83). The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

The image that accompanies the prayer to the side wound makes good on this intimation, for it depicts all five wounds inside a circle of blue meant to represent the river of paradise before it divides into four. The first word of the prayer to the side wound is “Oh” (“Oh font of paradise, from which divided, four sweet rivers flow”), with the circle of blue doubling as the letter “O,” effectively drawing worshipers into paradise.

This image of all five wounds also asks worshipers to consider the meaning of the number five, for along with picturing the wounds, it is also clearly a picture of the number itself. In fact, the pattern of their arrangement, with one at the center and the other four defining a square, brings to mind the pattern of five dots on a die. This evocation of a die in the pattern of Christ’s wounds reminds a discerning Christian that, in his human embodiment, Christ redeemed those five senses and, with them, the number five.

Detail from Book of Hours, Sarum use, Flanders, mid-15th century (HM 1086). The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Photo by Kate Lain.

Detail from Book of Hours, Sarum use, Flanders, mid-15th century (HM 1086). The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Photo by Kate Lain.

Martha Rust, associate professor of English and director of the Medieval and Renaissance Center at New York University, is a National Endowment for the Humanities fellow at The Huntington. She is the author of the book Imaginary Worlds in Medieval Books: Exploring the Manuscript Matrix, available from Palgrave Macmillan.

Alan Jutzi’s Passion to Serve

Alan Jutzi, Avery Chief Curator of Rare Books, on the job in 2007.

Alan Jutzi, Avery Chief Curator of Rare Books, on the job in 2007.

Today the Avery Chief Curator of Rare Books at The Huntington, Alan Jutzi, will kick up his office doorstop one last time and shut the door behind him after 45 years of dedicated service.

Those of us who have had the privilege of working with Alan for some part of those decades will be hard pressed to pass by his door without thinking of the unassuming man who dedicated a career to making sense of The Huntington’s vast Library collections. Half the time, there he’d be in his windowless office—filled with stacks of papers, piles of books, and scribbled notes drifting over every surface—leaning back in his chair, hands clasped behind his head, absorbed in animated conversation with this or that scholar or colleague.

The other half of the time, the door would be closed. Alan was out and about. He might be retrieving a collection, grappling with a conservation challenge, answering a query in the reading room, meeting a donor, or helping to untangle a cataloging conundrum.

As he looks back on nearly a half century of working at The Huntington, Alan says simply, “I’ve really enjoyed helping people.”

Alan Jutzi working in his first position at The Huntington, circa 1970.

Alan Jutzi working in his first position at The Huntington, circa 1970.

The start of his career was typically Alan-esque—humble yet focused. He and a buddy came to California from the Midwest in 1969, pulling a U-Haul packed with their scant worldly possessions. And where many of his wandering generation found what they were looking for in less august settings or pursuits, the 20-something Alan was bound for a different California Dream. In 1970, when McDonald’s passed on hiring Alan, he took the local bus line all the way from Manhattan Beach to San Marino and filled out an employment application at The Huntington. The institution smartly gave him a job. His first position? Microfilm operator: point and shoot, turn the page, point and shoot, turn the page. Thus began one of the world’s great apprenticeships amid The Huntington’s treasures.

Alan rose rapidly through the ranks. Alongside earning an M.A. in Library Science at UCLA in 1974, he worked as an assistant curator of literary manuscripts. From there, it was on to assistant, then associate, curator of rare books, with an expansive job portfolio that included forays into the vast visual materials holdings: photography, historical prints, and ephemera. One might say that Alan has been a jack of all trades at The Huntington and has mastered each. By the early 1980s, he had become chief curator of rare books, overseeing millions of rare historical materials and an entire department of professional colleagues.

Alan Jutzi in the rare book stacks perusing a photograph by Edward Weston, circa 1980.

Alan Jutzi in the rare book stacks perusing a photograph by Edward Weston, circa 1980.

Alan stood on the shoulders of the distinguished curators and bibliophiles who preceded him. But he has made the position uniquely his own, especially in the brilliant ways that he has added to the collections. Collection development is this curator’s professional sweet spot, his thing. He furthered the Library’s long-standing commitment to such fields as colonial and revolutionary America, the Civil War, California and the West, the British Empire, and literary production on both sides of the Atlantic.

He went beyond the institution’s known strengths to establish fresh ones, and, in the process, often mounted innovative exhibitions to showcase materials he found—or which found him. Alan has been an “activist curator,” pushing the institution into new arenas, themes, and associations of insight and curiosity. He singlehandedly built the archives in architectural materials (which required a dumpster dive or two), regional medical history, cookbooks and food culture, and urban and regional planning. He played the keystone role in bringing in such remarkable book and manuscript collections as those related to William Morris, T.E. Lawrence, Charles Darwin, Sir Richard Burton, Francis Bacon, Jack London, Y.C. Hong—the list goes on and on and on.

Alan Jutzi in 1973. Portrait by former Huntington colleague and professional photographer Gusmano Cesaretti.

Alan Jutzi in 1973. Portrait by former Huntington colleague and professional photographer Gusmano Cesaretti.

That’s one legacy. Alan’s warmth and decency, his geniality to researchers at all levels—and from all walks of life—is another. Alan has helped legions of world-class scholars who come to The Huntington for a day or a year, and he has also done the same for the graduate student just starting out, the city planner in search of historical context, the regional preservationist trying to save a threatened building, the undergraduate doing her first major research paper, and the passionate seeker of information who just happens to be the world’s expert on X, Y, or Z. He has answered thousands of queries: some mundane, others obscure or intriguing. The effusive praise he’s received from hundreds of authors in their acknowledgment pages bears witness to his remarkable service.

His kindness has made him countless friends in every quarter of the The Huntington. Quiz just about anyone, and he or she can attest to the cheerfully distinctive jangle of loose change and keys. That’s Alan on the run, perhaps yet again tracking down the one perfect item for a last minute show-and-tell, or dashing off to an impromptu coffee or lunch. For years, Alan was the reliable fourth hand at regular noontime bridge games. And it was at The Huntington that Alan met Laurie, his wife of 38 years.

Alan at a Huntington black-tie event, circa 1990, in conversation with Franklin D. Murphy, former chancellor of UCLA and former chairman and CEO of the Times Mirror Company.

Alan at a Huntington black-tie event, circa 1990, in conversation with Franklin D. Murphy, former chancellor of UCLA and former chairman and CEO of the Times Mirror Company.

Alan made friends for The Huntington, too—his good cheer cutting through the sometimes remote façade of the place. So that his legacy may be made permanent, Alan’s friends and colleagues have created an endowed fellowship in his name. The Alan Jutzi Fellowship for Non-Traditional Scholars will provide at least two months of residential funding annually to someone chosen from outside the customary academic tracks that produce The Huntington’s readers. The creation of this new fellowship seemed the most fitting way to honor Alan’s abiding curiosity and egalitarian generosity over the past 45 years.

When Alan kicks up his doorstop one last time, allowing his office door to close, an era at this institution will come to a close as well. Alan’s career has been a glorious one, filled with passionate service and collection-building that have resulted in Alan’s becoming the keeper of institutional memory and—though he’s far too modest to admit it—the repository of the institution’s soul.

Thank you for everything, Alan. You are already missed.

A bridge game among Huntington staff, 1986. Left to right: Debbie Smith, Harriet McCloone, Mary Foster, and Alan Jutzi.

A bridge game among Huntington staff, 1986. Left to right: Debbie Smith, Harriet McCloone, Mary Foster, and Alan Jutzi.

You can watch a video about Alan Jutzi’s work as a curator on Vimeo.

If you wish to donate to the Alan Jutzi Fellowship, you may do so online or via mail to The Huntington’s Advancement Office at 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, CA, 91108.

Jennifer A. Watts is curator of photography at The Huntington. Alan Jutzi hired her 25 years ago.

William Deverell is director of the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West and a professor in the history department at USC. Deverell, Jutzi, and three other current and former Huntington readers go golfing together every summer in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Bulbs and Roses

Has hard pruning left your rose garden looking like this? You might consider mild-climate bulbs that bloom at different times than roses. Photo by Kate Lain.

Has hard pruning left your rose garden looking like this? You might consider mild-climate bulbs that bloom at different times than roses. Photo by Kate Lain.

Earlier this month, a group of dedicated volunteers began the gargantuan task of pruning The Huntington’s more than 3,000 rose bushes. Hard pruning once a year keeps roses healthy and promotes blooming.

But how do you keep a garden looking its best when all you see is thorn-studded stubs robbed of their showstopper blooms? For Tom Carruth, the E. L. and Ruth B. Shannon Curator of the Rose Collections, the answer lies in planting mild-climate bulbs that bloom when their Rosaceae-family neighbors have just, well, lost their heads.

Carruth will offer tips on choosing and growing bulbs during “Bulbs and Roses: A Winning Combination,” a free public lecture on Thurs., Jan. 14, at 2:30 p.m. He’s had great success planting bulbs in The Huntington’s historic rose garden, with about 140 bulb plantings using roughly 60 varieties.

Gladiolus covelii ‘Impressive’ produces large coral and cream flowers in spring—a jolt of color before roses take center stage. Photo by Tom Carruth.

Gladiolus covelii ‘Impressive’ produces large coral and cream flowers in spring—a jolt of color before roses take center stage. Photo by Tom Carruth.

Bulbs and roses are natural complements to each other, says Carruth. They bloom at different times but share similar requirements for soil-type and watering schedule. Numerous public gardens, notably the Denver Botanic Gardens and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, have combined roses with popular bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, or hyacinths. In our mild Southern California climate, these common bulbs don’t get the chill time they need to re-bloom.

Instead, Carruth turns to offerings from southern Africa that come back annually with little extra care, such as Babiana, a genus from the Iridaceae family, which comes in many colors, including the gorgeous, deep blue or purple flowers you’ll see near our roses; Sparaxis, or harlequin flowers, in a rainbow of vibrant colors; or a variety of Bearded Iris called ‘Joseph’s Mantle’, a repeat-blooming bulb whose sword-like leaves create visual height. Other varieties Carruth recommends include Amaryllis, Ixia, Pineapple Lily, and the blue-purple Brodiaea.

Summer flowering Crocosmia ‘George Davidson’ features medium tall spikes of intense golden yellow blooms. Photo by Tom Carruth.

Summer flowering Crocosmia ‘George Davidson’ features medium tall spikes of intense golden yellow blooms. Photo by Tom Carruth.

To find bulbs suited to this area, look for a West Coast supplier and read the fine print. Drought-tolerant bulbs will be easier to manage on a low-water budget. (Incidentally, they do just fine staying in the ground all year round—no complicated chilling techniques required.)

One warning from Carruth: once the bulb’s finished blooming, resist the urge to remove the wilted foliage until it’s fully brown; just let it die on its own. Those leaves furnish the nutrients that nourish next year’s bloom.

Overall, these mild-climate bulbs require little to no maintenance, re-bloom each year, and add colorful flowers that might just embolden you to give your roses the hard pruning they really want—and need.

Who can resist the striking mottled violet-blue of Brodiaea? It blooms in late spring. Photo by Tom Carruth.

Who can resist the striking mottled violet-blue of Brodiaea? It blooms in late spring. Photo by Tom Carruth.

Want to learn more? Join Carruth on Thurs., Jan. 14, at 2:30 p.m. in the Ahmanson Room of the Brody Botanical Center. No reservations required.

Diana W. Thompson is senior writer in the office of communications and marketing at The Huntington.

Preparing for El Niño

With systems in place to harvest rainwater and prevent flooding in areas like the Chinese Garden, The Huntington is readier than ever to weather the storm. Photo by Martha Benedict.

With systems in place to harvest rainwater and prevent flooding in areas like the Chinese Garden, The Huntington is readier than ever to weather the storm. Photo by Martha Benedict.

Southern California is bracing for rain—lots of it—as the predicted El Niño weather system looms. After four years of relentless drought, some precipitation would be welcome, but too much at once could be disastrous, causing floods, mudslides, power outages, and significant property damage. Civic leaders and water managers throughout the region have been scrambling to prepare for the deluge. They’ve also been exploring ways to capture some of that rainwater for future use.

At The Huntington, rainwater harvesting is a major component of the institution’s own preparations for El Niño. In fact, an underground water retention system was constructed in 2013 as part of the project that built the new Steven S. Koblik Education and Visitor Center. Rainwater from downspouts and drains in the new complex, along with runoff from the parking lot, will flow into this storage system, which has a capacity of approximately 27,000 cubic feet. (Excess quantities will flow into storm drains.) From the retention system, captured rainwater can percolate down through the soil to recharge the groundwater. Some of this retained water may also help replenish the Raymond Basin aquifer, located deep underground, which The Huntington taps into for all its irrigation needs.

Think of it as a gigantic rain barrel. A water retention system constructed in 2013—part of the Steven S. Koblik Education and Visitor Center project—will capture storm runoff to help recharge the groundwater. Photo by Lisa Blackburn.

Think of it as a gigantic rain barrel. A water retention system constructed in 2013—part of the Steven S. Koblik Education and Visitor Center project—will capture storm runoff to help recharge the groundwater. Photo by Lisa Blackburn.

Elsewhere on the property, considerable work has been done in non-public areas to prevent flooding of two popular landscapes: the Japanese Garden and the Chinese Garden. “These are natural drainage areas where seasonal creeks historically ran, carrying runoff from the terrain as well as rainwater that flowed into the property from the north,” explains Maxx Echt, The Huntington’s irrigation improvement manager. To prevent flood damage to these gardens, a system of berms, detention basins, and a drainage canal will collect and hold large amounts of runoff, safely retaining as much of it as possible on the property to soak into plant beds before channeling the excess into storms drains. This will allow heavy flows of water to bypass the gardens that lie in their natural path and will prevent the release of runoff into neighboring streets at the southern perimeter of the property. Sandbags and long “snakes” of straw wattle will help control erosion on slopes, catch floating debris, and slow down or divert cascading water, thus keeping the drainage system clear and running efficiently.

But rainfall that makes its way into the Chinese Garden lake will be put to good use, Echt says. “Currently, we use the lake as something of a third reservoir. Moving water from the lake into the irrigation system helps keep the lake fresh and clear while simultaneously allowing us to use the outflow water for irrigation needs.”

Botanical staff member Daniel Goyette inspects a drainage canal and water detention basin designed to prevent flooding in the Chinese and Japanese gardens. Both gardens lie in the natural path of seasonal water flows. The logs along the edge of the canal will help keep out debris. Photo by Lisa Blackburn.

Botanical staff member Daniel Goyette inspects a drainage canal and water detention basin designed to prevent flooding in the Chinese and Japanese gardens. Both gardens lie in the natural path of seasonal water flows. The logs along the edge of the canal will help keep out debris. Photo by Lisa Blackburn.

Tree care is another important consideration as winter storms approach. Regular pruning and maintenance can help prevent tree loss while minimizing damage from falling branches in heavy winds and rain. The Huntington’s arborist, Daniel Goyette, has been making regular surveys of the trees on the property to check for signs of disease, dieback, or decay, and to address any structural issues in the canopy that might make a tree a higher risk. “If a tree has heavy branches on one side that overhang a road or path, reducing those branches to remove end-weight can help mitigate the risk of branch, trunk, or whole-tree failure—or, if the tree does fail, to decrease the likelihood of impact in a direction that may cause harm,” he explains.

These are just a few of the preparations the staff has been busy with behind the scenes. Now, when the storm clouds begin to gather, The Huntington will be readier than ever to weather the storm.

Rolls of straw wattle will help control erosion and debris flow on slopes, keeping the drainage system clear and running efficiently. Photo by Lisa Blackburn.

Rolls of straw wattle will help control erosion and debris flow on slopes, keeping the drainage system clear and running efficiently. Photo by Lisa Blackburn.

What can local residents do to prepare? For a helpful checklist of suggestions, read “28 Things to Do to Prepare for El Niño” from the Los Angeles Times.

Lisa Blackburn is communications coordinator for the office of communications and marketing at The Huntington.

Jack London and the Rose Parade

Jack London kneels by his camera, ca. 1900. Jack London Collection. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Jack London kneels by his camera, ca. 1900. Jack London Collection. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Watching the Rose Parade was a New Year’s tradition growing up. Granted, I usually saw it on television, even though I was just a few miles away from the parade route at my grandparents’ house in La Cañada. But I would visit the La Cañada-Flintridge float under construction before the parade, breathing in the heady aroma of thousands of flowers up close. And once, in college, I even spent the night in a sleeping bag on Colorado Boulevard, determined to take in the whole parade experience.

So I was delighted to come across some historic images of the Rose Parade while combing through The Huntington’s collection of Jack London papers, tucked within an album of photos from Korea and Japan. As assistant curator of literary manuscripts, I view fascinating bits of history every day. We hold the largest collection of Jack London materials in the world, including 12,000 photographs, and I am often searching for a particular image. But somehow I had never seen these pictures.

Flowers were used to create stars that decorated the wheels of the float and the the rear of the trellised carriage, 1905. Jack London Collection. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Flowers were used to create stars that decorated the wheels of the float and the the rear of the trellised carriage, 1905. Jack London Collection. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

London is best known for his adventure stories, and for the true-life escapades that inspired those tales. London traveled to the Yukon during the Gold Rush, reported on the Russo-Japanese War from Korea, documented poverty in the East End of London, sailed the South Seas, visited Hawaii numerous times, traveled to Mexico, and lectured extensively in the Midwest and on the East Coast. He finally settled in Sonoma, spending considerable time in San Francisco and the Bay Area. But Pasadena? How was it that London found time between exotic locales to visit Pasadena, and what were the photographs doing in an album of photos taken in Korea and Japan?

With a little digging I learned that in the winter of 1904, after a journalistic jaunt to Korea, London came to Los Angeles to visit his friend and literary correspondent Cloudesley Johns. By then, Pasadena’s famous floral pageant was 15 years old and already a popular thing to attend on the first of the year, or Jan. 2, in London’s case. (An early and still-respected tradition holds that when Jan. 1 occurs on a Sunday, the Rose Parade takes place the following day.)

A gentleman in a top hat drives a decorated carriage of ladies in dark dresses in what appears to be Tournament Park, at the end of the parade route, 1905. Jack London Collection. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

A gentleman in a top hat drives a decorated carriage of ladies in dark dresses in what appears to be Tournament Park, at the end of the parade route, 1905. Jack London Collection. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

The exclusive Valley Hunt Club started the parade in 1890 to celebrate the warm weather and sing the praises of a community where roses bloomed while much of the country was blanketed in snow. More than 2,000 people attended the Rose Parade that first year. By 1895, the event had grown so large that the Tournament of Roses Association was formed to manage it. London’s photographs have no captions, but his images capture the whimsy and beauty of what was called “America’s New Year Celebration.”

London snapped 18 photographs, mostly of the floats themselves. These early floats were primarily flower-bedecked, horse-drawn carriages, though a few had more elaborate designs. London captured some of the riders in costume or carrying additional floral accoutrements. One float simulated a large boat with oarsmen to propel it down its waterless course. On another, flowers were used to create stars that decorated the wheels and the the rear of the trellised carriage.

This large float simulated a boat, with oarsmen to propel it down its waterless course, 1905. Jack London Collection. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

This large float simulated a boat, with oarsmen to propel it down its waterless course, 1905. Jack London Collection. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

London was an avid horseman, so it’s no wonder that he photographed the second annual chariot race, a form of post-parade entertainment introduced after the first Rose Bowl game in 1902. With a riotous crowd of 8,500 spectators packed into a space intended for 1,000, Michigan clobbered Stanford 49 to 0, and the game was called at the end of the third quarter with an unorthodox mercy rule. That convinced the organizers to try something new. Following the success of Lew Wallace’s wildly popular 1880 novel Ben-Hur, the organizers settled on chariot races, which took place from 1904 to 1915. London’s photographs reveal a large track and grandstands in Tournament Park, an area that now serves primarily as athletic fields for Caltech.

As for me, I’m still a big fan of the Rose Parade. When I married and moved to Pasadena, it seemed natural to join the Tournament of Roses Association and be a part of the magic. My husband was already a member, and I wasn’t going to spend New Year’s Eve alone while he had all the fun. The theme of this year’s parade—my tenth—is “Find Your Adventure.” During the parade, I’ll be thinking of Jack London and his many adventures, including the ones he experienced close to home.

Chariot races were held from 1904 to 1915 in Tournament Park, an area now occupied by Caltech’s athletic fields, 1905. Jack London Collection. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Chariot races were held from 1904 to 1915 in Tournament Park, an area now occupied by Caltech’s athletic fields, 1905. Jack London Collection. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Related content on Verso:
Jack London, Public Intellectual (Sept. 22, 2015)
To Build a Fire (Jan. 10, 2014)
The Star Rover (Jan. 12, 2012)
A Friend to Jack London (Sept. 15, 2011)

Natalie Russell is The Huntington’s assistant curator of literary manuscripts.

Oh, What a Year It Was!

A collage of Verso highlights from 2015.

A collage of Verso highlights from 2015.

With 2016 right around the corner, we cast an eye back over a year marked by discovery and transformative change. Here are some of the remarkable stories we featured here on Verso.

Early in the year, we reported on an amazing find—the discovery in our collections of a single handwritten volume from the massive Yongle Encyclopedia (1408), a compendium of Chinese writings from ancient times through the early Ming dynasty. When it was created, it was the largest book ever produced in China—or anywhere else—consisting of more than 11,000 volumes. Read “Organizing an Encyclopedia, Chinese Style.”

Another tantalizing story involved a research fellow who had a hunch about the original owner of a book in The Huntington’s collection, Joseph Mede’s Works (1672). Noticing that many of the pages were dog-eared and remembering a famous scientist’s penchant for using that technique to mark his place, the fellow dug further and confirmed the book was originally owned by English physicist Sir Isaac Newton. Read “Newton’s Lost Copy of Mede, Revealed.”

Sculptor and freelance conservator Morgan MacLean spent four months at The Huntington—documenting, treating, and installing the Doyle Lane mural in the Steven S. Koblik Education and Visitor Center. To learn more, read "Restoring a Doyle Lane Mural." Photo by Kate Lain.

Sculptor and freelance conservator Morgan MacLean spent four months at The Huntington—documenting, treating, and installing the Doyle Lane mural in the Steven S. Koblik Education and Visitor Center. To learn more, read “Restoring a Doyle Lane Mural.” Photo by Kate Lain.

Turning to botanical wonders, we showcased the astonishingly colorful and toothy aloe hybrids bred by Karen Zimmerman, The Huntington’s propagator of succulent plants, who likens creating the hybrids to making living sculptures. Read “Fantasy Aloe Hybrids.”

The opening of the Steven S. Koblik Education and Visitor Center in the spring prompted a slew of Verso posts, including one about our water-wise California garden and another about the new Mapel Orientation Gallery, where visitors can learn about The Huntington and its founder Henry E. Huntington. Read “A California Garden” and “Let’s Get Oriented.”

We also celebrated some stunning acquisitions, including photographs by Ansel Adams and William Current, a long-lost painting by the 19th-century Scottish artist David Wilkie, and a monumental mural by the 20th-century Los Angeles ceramist Doyle Lane. Read “Ansel Adams, William Current, and the American West,” “New Home for a Hidden Treasure,” and “Restoring a Doyle Lane Mural.”

WriteGirl workshop participants listened to the story of Octavia Butler’s life, including her rise from humble beginnings to become a successful science-fiction writer and recipient of the MacArthur “Genius Grant.” For more on this story, read “Writing Herself In.” Photo by Martha Benedict.

WriteGirl workshop participants listened to the story of Octavia Butler’s life, including her rise from humble beginnings to become a successful science-fiction writer and recipient of the MacArthur “Genius Grant.” For more on this story, read “Writing Herself In.” Photo by Martha Benedict.

In the summer, we recognized a major change in leadership, bidding a fond farewell to Steve Koblik, The Huntington’s president for nearly 14 years, and then welcoming Laura Skandera Trombley, our first woman president. Read “Together, We Did This” and “Welcoming a New President.”

We also shared the story of WriteGirl, a Los Angeles-based creative writing and mentoring organization for teenage girls. These girls and their mentors attended a one-day creative writing workshop at The Huntington based on materials from the collection of science-fiction writer Octavia Butler, whose papers reside here. Read “Writing Herself In.”

In late summer, we published our most popular post of the year, a story describing how 21st-century technology is making it possible for literary fans to pore over Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales while lounging at home in their pajamas. Read “Medieval Manuscripts in the Digital Age.”

This myriorama, designed by John Heaviside Clark, was published by Samuel Leigh in 1824. To watch a video showing this myriorama in action, go to "LOOK>> A Myriorama." Photo by Kate Lain.

This myriorama, designed by John Heaviside Clark, was published by Samuel Leigh in 1824. To watch a video showing this myriorama in action, go to “LOOK>> A Myriorama.” Photo by Kate Lain.

And we launched a new series called LOOK>>, in which we explored single objects from our wide-ranging collections in short videos. Check out “LOOK>> A Myriorama,” “LOOK>> A Historiscope,” “LOOK>> An Ant Plant,” and “LOOK>> A Printed Fan.” Speaking of moving images, we also shared the storyboards used to make a 10-minute film about the history of The Huntington, designed and directed by Los Angeles-based filmmaker and animator Cosmo Segurson. Read “Animated History.”

With the arrival of fall and new research fellows at The Huntington, we provided several first-person accounts of explorations in our collections, including posts on unique manuscripts by an 18th-century English stone carver and a 19th-century American politician. Read “Stone Carver’s Diary from the Spa City of Bath” and “Reading the Aftermath of the Civil War.” For sports fans, we kicked off the football season with a look at the history of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, written by one of last year’s long-term research fellows. Read “Coliseum Politics.”

We also dug out a trove of correspondence to tell the curious tale of women employed at the Mount Wilson Observatory as human computers—conducting scientific computations early in the 20th century, long before the word “computer” generally referred to a machine. Read “Women Computing the Stars.”

Deergrass is easy to grow, drought-tolerant, and large. To learn more about this and other plants that require little water, read “If Not Lawn, Then What?" Photo by Kate Lain.

Deergrass is easy to grow, drought-tolerant, and large. To learn more about this and other plants that require little water, read “If Not Lawn, Then What?” Photo by Kate Lain.

And, in response to the continuing drought in California, we shared our picks for lawn alternatives. These plants are tried and true, and being used in our Frances and Sidney Brody California Garden. Read “If Not Lawn, Then What?”

Will learning something new be on your list of New Year’s resolutions? Why not listen to some of our superb lectures and conferences, captured as audio recordings and available for free to download. Our audio roundup details some of the highlights from the year, and it’s a great place to start. Read “Hear Ye, Hear Ye.”

Thank you for reading Verso. We look forward to sharing more fascinating stories with you in 2016.

Kevin Durkin is editor of Verso and managing editor in the office of communications and marketing at The Huntington.