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The largest collection of John Muir letters, journals, notebooks, manuscript, drawings, photographs and other personal belongings are owned by University of the Pacific. University of the Pacific © 1984 Muir-Hanna Trust

The largest collection of John Muir letters, journals, notebooks, manuscript, drawings, photographs and other personal belongings are owned by University of the Pacific. University of the Pacific © 1984 Muir-Hanna Trust

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Pacific News

Pacific celebrates Muir-Hanna family’s gift of John Muir Papers

Largest collection of Muir papers makes university a global center for Muir, environmental research
Apr 8, 2019

University of the Pacific on April 13 will celebrate receiving official ownership of the largest collection of letters, journals and other materials written or owned by famed naturalist, author and environmental philosopher John Muir.

"This is simply a wonderful collection, and we are so very grateful to the Muir-Hanna family for their generous gift," said Pacific President Pamela A. Eibeck. "This celebration is to show our deep appreciation of the family's donation and to share with the community this extraordinary news."

The university has curated the collection since 1970, when John Muir descendants, several of whom are Pacific alumni, brought the collection to the Stockton campus. Since then, the collection in the university's Holt-Atherton Special Collections and Archives has grown to include 7,000 correspondences, 100 journals and notebooks, 400 drawings, thousands of photographs, and hundreds of his manuscripts for books and articles. Much of the materials are made available online, and the public is welcome to help transcribe his writings.

Pacific students and researchers from around the world can look at Muir's journals, notebooks, sketches and books from his personal library; see his handwritten notes; and get a glimpse into how his thoughts on nature developed.

"The Muir collections at University of the Pacific have played a key role in making John Muir well known to a much broader audience," said William Swagerty, director of the John Muir Center and history professor. "Students and researchers who are serious about studying and writing about Muir must find their way to Stockton to study the papers for their work to be original, comprehensive and well received."

Swagerty said the collection puts Pacific firmly on the "John Muir trail," which includes Muir Woods National Monument in Marin County, the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez and Yosemite National Park.

Being able to share the John Muir Papers is a highlight of having the collection here.

"We're really solidifying ourselves in the spectrum of John Muir history, environmental history, California history. We can use this collection to gain a deeper understanding of him in the context of those areas and, world history, biology and geology," said Mike Wurtz, head of the Holt-Atherton Special Collections and Archives.

The overall collection includes Muir's writing desk, two bookcases containing 1,000 books from his personal library in his Martinez home and other assorted items. A William Keith oil painting of Vernal Fall in Yosemite National Park that once hung in his Martinez home now hangs between the bookcases. In all, nine Muir family members have graduated from Pacific, and the family received the 2009 Pacific Alumni Association Outstanding Family Award.

The celebration includes three events that are open and free to the public.

John Muir Papers celebration, Saturday, April 13

  • The documentary film "The Unruly Mystic, John Muir" will be shown 1-2:30 p.m. Saturday, April 13, in the Janet Leigh Theatre on the Stockton campus. Director Michael M. Conti will be at the screening to discuss the film. Free and open to the public, but seating is limited.
  • A John Muir Legacy Fair will be held 2:30-3:30 p.m. on Knoles Lawn and will mark the anniversary of Muir's April 21 birthday and the permanent gift of the John Muir Papers. The fair will feature tours, interactive demonstrations, exhibits on the environment and sustainability, a virtual reality presentation and more. Free and open to the public.
  • Celebration: The Gift of the Muir Papers will be held 3:30-4:30 p.m. and will include the formal announcement of the gift with guests including John Muir descendants and dignitaries. Free and open to the public.

Media contacts:
Keith Michaud | 209.946.3275 (office) | 209.470.3206 (cell) |
Deidra Powell | 209.946.2313 (office)| 916.534.6559 (cell) |


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