Library Collectors’ Council 2008 Acquisitions
The Library Collectors' Council is a group of major donors who help direct the growth of the collections through active involvement in the acquisition process.
Library Collectors’ Council makes a “clean sweep,” funding seven important acquisitions
Jan. 2008 - The Huntington’s research holdings gained some additional heft after the 11th annual meeting of the Library Collectors’ Council, with seven new acquisitions funded in a “clean sweep” of the offerings. The council, a group of 41 member families who support acquisitions, met with Library staff in January to review the selections proposed for purchase. After presentations by curators and a discussion of the research value of the materials, the council members gathered for a black-tie dinner and several rounds of voting. All the items presented for consideration ultimately were purchased.
The first four acquisitions were determined by vote:
• Louis-Isidore Duperrey’s Voyage Autour De Monde (Paris, 1826–30), a lavishly illustrated account of a scientific expedition to the Pacific in the early 19th century. The expedition primarily was concerned with collecting data, but it had an unspoken secondary goal of pursuing an empire in the South Pacific. Duperrey made stops in Chile, Peru, the Society Islands, Tahiti, and Tonga, with exploratory visits to Australia, New Guinea, and New Zealand. His account provided not only scientific and cartographic information, but a wealth of ethnographic findings on Polynesian languages and customs. Exquisite color plates captured the exotic flora and fauna of the South Pacific.
• A collection of papers relating to the Boston Tea Party. Consisting of 21 previously unknown letters and documents, the material sheds new light on the aftermath of the most famous act of colonial defiance against the British. In a series of letters written in 1774 and 1775, members of the Greenough family discuss the plight of the “distressed poor of Boston,” who were impoverished by the Boston Port Bill—Parliament’s blockade of the port, imposed to force restitution from the unruly colonists. Included is a group of 10 “tea permits,” which were granted to people who claimed to need the beverage for therapeutic purposes. Elisha Williams, the magistrate charged with issuing the permits, wrote of his misgivings about one recipient: “I should have been glad if he had brought a certificate from his Doctor.”
• Seven unpublished notebooks and journals kept by the noted English traveler and adventurer William Bollaert, along with a daybook and related maps and sailing charts. These papers document Bollaert’s two expeditions to South America, in 1826 and 1854, and include technical reports on mines and mineral resources, geographical and archeological data, assessments of the potential for British investment in railroads and other ventures, and descriptions of local customs. For scholars of British history, this material provides fascinating detail about the nature of 19th-century overseas exploration, scientific observation, and capital investment.
• Two diaries kept by James Haggerty during his travels in Arizona and California in 1870, along with a sketchbook of later drawings. Discharged from the Army’s 21st Infantry Regiment outside of Tucson, Ariz., the 22-year-old Haggerty and several companions continued west by wagon and mule to San Diego, and then by steamer north to San Francisco. His colorful firsthand narrative paints a vivid portrait of the rapidly burgeoning Far West and underscores the Southwest’s position as a crossroads of peoples and cultures, where bitterly contentious collisions often ensued. These materials add significantly to the Library’s outstanding holdings in the history of California and the West.
After the regular funds were depleted, a pair of coalitions among the council members formed to purchase two other items:
• The family papers of Looe and Eliza Baker and their descendents, purchased for the Library by MaryLou and George Boone and Geneva and Charles Thornton. This multigenerational correspondence is an invaluable resource for historians of the antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction eras.
• An important Mormon document, funded by a coalition composed of Marty and Bruce Coffey, Alicia and John Fickewirth, Gina Valdez and Scott Jordan, Tracy and Ken McCormick, and Frances and Loren Rothschild. The printed circular dated 1846 was the first public announcement of the Latter Day Saints’ intention to head west and establish a settlement in the Great Basin, which encompasses the Salt Lake Valley, where they would “infringe upon no one, and be not likely to be infringed upon.”
An anonymous donor stepped forward a few days after the meeting to purchase the final item on this year’s list:
• The literary papers of contemporary novelist Kent Haruf. In his novels about life on the American plains (Plainsong, Eventide, The Tie That Binds), the award-winning author examines the influence of the West on the national character. The archive includes drafts of Haruf’s novels and short stories as well as correspondence with such authors as John Irving and Annie Proulx.
This last acquisition made for a complete sweep of all the materials presented this year—an outstanding level of support by the members of the council.
The Huntington welcomes inquiries from those who would like to participate in shaping the Library’s collections through new acquisitions. For information contact Avery Director of the Library, David S. Zeidberg, 626-405-2176.