Engaging with the Collections

Earlier this week, The Huntington announced “COLLECTION/S: WCCW/five at The Huntington,” an exhibition that will be on view in the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art from Nov. 18, 2017, through Feb. 12, 2018. Part of the second year of /five—The Huntington’s five-year contemporary arts initiative focused on creative … Continue reading

Mining the Archive of Octavia E. Butler

The papers of award-winning science fiction writer Octavia E. Butler (1947–2006) came to The Huntington in 2008. By the time the collection had been processed and cataloged, more than 40 scholars had already asked for access. Today, the Octavia E. Butler Collection is one of the top two most actively … Continue reading

Visualizing the Anatomy of the Eye

As a historian of science, I’m fascinated with pictures that help make sense of past scientific ideas and practices. The Huntington’s vast collection of rare 16th-century science books document how intellectuals of the day perceived the eye and the process of sight. Chief among these works is the groundbreaking anatomy … Continue reading

Railroad Confidential

Patent papers. Drawings of railcars. Engineering notes. Photographs of trains and machine shops. These were the kinds of materials I expected to encounter as I began organizing the personal papers of William Riley McKeen Jr. (1869–1946), a mechanical engineer and innovator who developed some of the first gasoline-powered railroad cars … Continue reading

Literary Ties That Bind

Imagine my surprise when I read the following words in the acknowledgment section of Elizabeth Jane Howard: A Dangerous Innocence, Artemis Cooper’s 2016 biography of the late English novelist. “At the Huntington Library I thank Steve Hindle, Sue Hodson, and, above all, Gayle Richardson, the archivist who had cataloged Jane’s … Continue reading

Telling Their Stories

As acting president of The Huntington, I am having the great pleasure of immersing myself in the wide-ranging activities that take place in this extraordinary institution. Our exhibitions program is chief among them, as it showcases both our research and educational missions. Curators work for months on the planning of … Continue reading

Born and Raised in Hawai‘i

One of the greatest joys for historians doing archival research is the opportunity to become lost in someone else’s world. I had this experience during my recent fellowship at The Huntington as I delved into the papers of Nathaniel Bright Emerson (1839–1915), a physician, ethnologist, and author of several books … Continue reading

Evelyn Waugh as Reader, Writer, Collector

Early in his life, the celebrated British writer Evelyn Waugh (1903–1966) thought he’d make furniture for a living; he also studied art. While he ultimately abandoned those paths, his desire to make beautiful things never ceased. Loren and Frances Rothschild’s 2013 gift of their Evelyn Waugh collection made The Huntington … Continue reading