Harbach And The Housebook
Part I of a Series: To learn more about the Lummis Housebook Digitization Project, read the introductory post So Lummis Pretty Much Knew Everybody, Didn’t He? For the other posts in the series, click here.
Hello, everyone. During my more than ten years as a volunteer at the Autry, I have been involved in many fascinating projects. Because I love history, particularly Western history, my time at the museum is something I look forward to every day.
Lately I have been working on a project that has to be my favorite: researching and describing the information in the housebook (guest book) kept by Southern California pioneer Charles F. Lummis. What makes this project so interesting to me is that the book contains the signatures and comments of many historically significant individuals of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries who visited Lummis at his home, El Alisal. Just reading it makes me feel like I am meeting them myself. In fact, you may also have already “met,” among others, naturalist John Muir, famed Western artist Charles M. Russell, Rose Bowl architect Myron Hunt, and pioneering founder of the Boy Scouts Ernest Thompson Seton if you had the opportunity to read our last blog, “So Lummis Pretty Much Knew Everybody, Didn’t He?” (http://libraries.theautry.org/2012/06/14/so-lummis-pretty-much-knew-everybody-didnt-he/). Well, that list was just the beginning! Let me introduce you to some more interesting visitors who signed the house book:
- Carl Sandburg—winner of three Pulitzer Prizes, two for his poetry and one for his well-known biography of President Abraham Lincoln. He also won a Grammy Award in 1959 for Best Performance–Documentary or Spoken Word (Other Than Comedy) for his recording of Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait with the New York Philharmonic.
- John Burroughs—American naturalist and essayist who had a major role in the United States conservation movement.
- Estelle Reel Myer—appointed by President McKinley as Director of Education for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, she was the first woman to hold such a position. She is also considered to be the first woman to hold a statewide office in America, having served as Wyoming’s Superintendent of Public Instruction.
- Edgar L. Hewett—famous for his role in bringing about the Antiquities Act of 1906 and in the formation of Bandelier National Monument and Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico. He was also the founder of the School for American Archaeology (now School for Advanced Research). Hewitt and Lummis were involved in many joint archaeological projects in New Mexico and Guatemala.
- Joseph Scott—prominent Los Angeles community leader and attorney who helped found the Southwest Museum and remained on its board of trustees until 1957. His legal cases included assisting in the defense of the McNamara brothers who bombed the Los Angeles Times building and representing plaintiff Joan Barry in her famous paternity suit against actor/comedian Charlie Chaplin.
- Angel De Cora Dietz—Winnebago Indian painter, illustrator, Native American rights advocate, and teacher at the Carlisle Indian School. She was probably the best-known Native American artist before World War I.
- Ina Coolbrith—poet, writer, and librarian who was California’s first poet laureate.
- William Henry Jackson—explorer and painter who is well known for his images of the American West.
- Harry Carr—reporter, editor, and columnist for the Los Angeles Times. He was supposedly the first outside reporter to make his way to San Francisco following the great earthquake in 1906. He also edited the Times’ special section covering the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles.
- Charlie A. Siringo—American lawman, detective, and agent for the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. Often working undercover, he actually infiltrated Butch Cassidy’s train robbery syndicate. Another time, he stood up against a mob that wanted to lynch famed attorney Clarence Darrow.
- Eleanor “Cissy” Patterson—one of the first women to head a major daily newspaper, the Washington Times-Herald in Washington, D.C.
- William Healey Dall—American naturalist and one of the earliest scientific explorers of interior Alaska. Various mollusks and mammals are named after him. If you have ever seen a Dall sheep at a zoo, you now know where it got its name.
I hope you find this week’s listing of people who signed Lummis’s housebook interesting. Next week’s list will include, among others, the person to whom Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa dictated his memoirs and a former Canadian poet laureate. It should not be long before you too believe that Charles Lummis did pretty much seem to know everyone.