September 2018 Archives

Public Good

Mr. Frankish's letters are fascinating pieces of correspondence and most times read like telegrams. They reveal as much about the subject matter as they do about the author and the recipient. Today I was reading a letter he wrote to Mr. MacNeil with regard to an issue involving pipe lines. He wrote,


"Jeff Eads still refuses to allow us to put in pipe line on his land.....If it is only a question of paying this fool's expense to L.A. & back why we can pay it but where am I to find him to do so. As a matter of fact I don't think he has any title on it. Cannot we go ahead in spite of him? Let me know by return mail what you think had best be done in the matter."


This made me think of eminent domain. I didn't understand much about the legalities of eminent domain so I decided to dig further. On the Owner's Counsel Website, I learned that the government's power of eminent domain extends to government agencies but also some private companies or individuals may also be granted the power to condemn private property to complete certain projects intended to benefit the public (these include oil and gas companies, railroads or other privately-owned utility companies). Eminent domain allows a government to take property without the consent of the owner but the government has to provide just compensation for eminent-domain takings. I guess the question is whether money can account for the emotional and cultural costs of eminent domain. I can see why the issue is controversial.


Rejection and courage...

This week I worked on the processing plan template for Dr. Seymour papers trying to find the best way to organize the materials. There are lots of letters on different subjects. I am thinking if they should they be organized by dates, subject, name, or importance? These letters are like our present emails. However writing letters on papers, in my opinion, has so much more value. First it requires to write it by hand, then mail it out, (take to the post office, buy stamps), then wait for the reply, and lastly (the most exciting part I think) receive the reply by mail. Today we receive emails in seconds but it was not the case. It took days, weeks, even months. After all this effort how disappointing it must be when the reply was not as expected or rejecting. Dr. Seymour received some replies from publishers who rejected to publish his plays for various reasons. Still, it didn't slow him down to write another play or opera. He is a good example how not to get discourage. Last week I posted a picture from his childhood, here is Dr. Seymour as the professor at Southern Utah State College in Cedar City.

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Irving Wallace Meets James Baldwin

In 1973, fresh off the publication of The Word, Irving Wallace gave a lengthy interview to the Journal of Popular Culture in which he discussed his approach to research and writing, his popular success, and his frustrated relationship with literary critics. The interview offers a clear picture of Wallace's sharp intellect and wide-ranging curiosity; one minute he's discussing a recent academic study on the social effects of pornography, and the next he's meditating on the lingering influence of America's puritanical culture. The interview confirms my growing sense that Irving Wallace was more thoughtful, funny, humane, and self-aware than the label "popular novelist" would indicate.  

pop culture journal.jpeg

By far my favorite part of the interview, however, is Wallace's recollection of an all-night, cocktail-fueled conversation he once had with the writer James Baldwin, in Cannes. In the interview, Wallace remembers telling Baldwin that he had just finished writing The Man, in which an African American man is elected President of the United States: 

[Baldwin] looked at me with disbelief. "The hell you have. What credentials do you have to do that? How can you write about a black man?" I said, "The same way you were able to write about a white man in your last novel." He said, "Fair enough."

According to Wallace, he went on to stress how, as a white writer with a massive audience, he could impact white attitudes about race more readily than Baldwin could hope to -- and, moreover, that he had a moral obligation to try. 

Baldwin's reply? "I hope it works."

For me, this exchange offers a new glimpse into the politics of Wallace's work, and offers yet another potential avenue which scholars might use to approach him, his work, and his audience. 

1942 Visitors to the Canal

Included in every All-American Canal Project History is a list of visitors to the Canal during the construction process. Below is the second half of the 1942 list of visitors. The closer to completion the Canal became, the shorter the list of visitors became. Early lists of visitors were several pages long, whereas the 1942 list is only two pages long. Note the wide range of titles and places of business that these visitors represent. The first half of the list also includes a United States Senator from Arizona, an Assistant Forest Chief from the Forest Service, and an Irrigation Engineer from UCLA.

Series: All-American Canal Project Histories, 1948-1954. Record Group 48: Records of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior, 1826-2009. National Archives Identifier: 2292770

Claremont: A place textured with memories

This past weekend, my friend and I went on a hike. On our drive to the trail-head, we passed the San Antonio dam. I couldn't help but think about Harold S. Stewart, who sat on the board of the San Antonio Water Company around the 1940s. His oral history recounted the building of the dam. Water still flows to that dam and is used by the Inland Empire today. After our hike, my friend and I went to a coffee shop that is inside an old citrus packing house. At this point, I was reminded of Robert Nesbit who worked with the Pomona Fruit Growers Exchange in the 1940s and 1950s. The Packing House is right next to the railroad that was once used to export citrus from this area to the greater Los Angeles area. These particular places all throughout the area have very specific histories. It is important to know how these places come into being and what particular historical situations created them. Each time I go on a hike or go to get a cup of coffee, my understanding of space will be textured with oral histories. These stories are important as our community continues to grow and change because they can help us to imagine our future. I can't help but try to imagine what Claremont will look like in 60 years and which stories will be remembered!

Antipathy to half and half men

Turning down opportunities (sometimes even good ones) helps me stick to my word. I guess I, too, have a "great antipathy to half and half men." This is true in the business world as well as in personal matters. Today, I was reading a letter, Mr. Frankish wrote to Mr. Stamm with regard to a banker. The following is an excerpt of the letter.


"I do not know how you felt about Dr. Olmsted but I was much disappointed in him. A man who will blow hot and cold as he did within 48 hours is not, in my opinion, the man of stability that we require in a banker. I felt that you must think me a fool speaking to you as I did about him being all ready to go into the business and then to find him so cool and indifferent about it. But I only repeated his own words as given me here on Friday and he then told me that he could put in at once $25,000 or $30,000. While today he was intimated that he had very little of course you may know more of him through his friends and he may be all right, but I must say that my present impressions are that we shall be better without him. I have a great antipathy to half and half men."

Memories from childhood.

I am really impressed with Mr. Seymour's papers.  He wrote so much during his lifetime; not only operas and plays but also so many letters, diaries, lectures, and educational materials. While thinking about all his achievements I just picture him as an adult, a serious person. I forget that once, as everyone else, he was a child. This picture of Mr. Seymour as a child with his violin really surprised me and made me think about his childhood. Except for this picture, there are not many materials from his childhood in the collection, but the violin truly fits him and I have no doubt that the practiced a lot!

young with violin1.jpg

Archival Oddities, Vol. 1

There is great deal of satisfaction that comes with entering the world of an archival collection, creating order out of disorder, and preparing materials for use by future researchers. Yet the joy of archiving also stems from encounters with strange and unexpected materials, like this tiny artifact from the Irving Wallace collection:

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Central to Wallace's novel The Word is the discovery of a lost gospel--the Gospel According to James. As a gift to people who assisted him throughout the writing and publishing process, Wallace had one hundred of these mementos printed and distributed. Wallace's gospel is thirteen pages long and light as a feather. As for its content, the tiny book makes a big claim: the resurrection never happened, Wallace's James insists, because Jesus survived the crucifixion as a mortal.

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Celebrating the Opening of the Canal with King Neptune

In 1940, a grand celebration was held to commemorate the opening of the All-American Canal. This celebration was not to celebrate the completion of the canal, but rather to celebrate the first use of the completed parts of the canal. A completed, and filled, section of the canal is where the celebration took place. This particular section is called the East Highland Canal. Water in this photo was initially "ponded" at the East Highland Turnout so that way the initial delivery of water could be made the day of the celebration. Water in the photos would eventually flow out to the Imperial Valley after traveling through the canal. Celebration photos below show King Neptune and his court of lovely women floating to the celebration on a decorated raft, as well as the Commissioner of Reclamation (John C. Page) giving an opening address which kicked off the celebration. It would be two more years before the canal would be completed. Reports on the Canal continue past its completion in 1942 and through to 1954. Later reports look closer at the functionality and economic benefits of the Canal.

all-american canal celebration 1940.jpg

Series: All-American Canal Project Histories, 1948-1954. Record Group 48: Records of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior, 1826-2009. National Archives Identifier: 2292770

Zanjero: Ditch Rider and Water Keeper

A Zanjero is a "ditch rider" or someone who controls the flow of water to various irrigation sites by traveling along the irrigation routes. This week, I was enthralled in the life of Thomas Chappell, who was the only Zanjero in Upland in 1977, when the interview took place. His days began early, around 4:00AM and were often cut short by sleep, as he went to bed around 7:30PM. He worked on delivering water to farmers across the area, by way of opening and closing valves. His entire life revolved around supplying water for his community, so much so that he missed out on important family holidays and milestones in his children's lives. Chappell's commitment to his job has led me to reflect on the absolute necessity and value of water. Water is so important that someone committed their entire life to delivering it. We have to keep that in mind as we live our lives; water is life.



This week I learned that shortly after the Chaffey's left Ontario for 
Australia, Charles Frankish, became the guiding force during the
early years of the "Colony." Frankish commissioned a water fountain
to be placed on Euclid Avenue to symbolize prosperity to all visitors that
passed through Ontario.  The fountain can still be viewed
today in the Museum gardens.
Charles Frankish arguably was the man who
made Ontario the city it has become today.

A little note found between letters...

I did not realize how much one might learn about a person's life just by reading his correspondence. Indeed letters can create the whole picture of someone's life like, for example, in the book "The Bach Reader: A life of Johann Sebastian Bach in Letters and Documents" by H. David.
As my second week with the John Seymour papers continue I have read so many letters from and to Mr. Seymour. Some letters are personal, some relate to work and politics, some were written to publishers, but most of them concern music subjects. Between all of the letters I found a little note to Mr. John Seymour that made me smile. Hope it will make you smile too. Have a good day everyone!

 Note to J. Seymour1.jpg

Selling Wallace

Part of what makes the Irving Wallace collection so fascinating is the view it affords of the publishing world of the 1960s-1970s. Wallace's books were big business for his publisher, Simon & Schuster, as evidenced by the million-dollar advances which they regularly gave him. Simply put, by the time of the The Word's publication in 1972, Simon & Schuster knew that Wallace books would sell--and sell and sell. And like any popular product in which a company stakes its money and its name, Simon & Schuster released The Word with a focused and aggressive advertising campaign.

Thanks to documentary evidence in the Wallace collection, we have a clear picture of how The Word was sold to a broad reading public. The publisher dedicated $100,000 to a promotional campaign which included prodigious radio and newspaper buys, as well as what now sound like delightfully quaint ways of selling books: counter and floor displays (see below), mobiles, and streamers. The Word was serialized in at least one magazine (Ladies' Home Journal), and surely benefitted from the near-universal attention it received from critics in national and regional newspapers.


It is difficult to imagine such resources being devoted to selling a single book nowadays. I have a sense--despite the continued success of the Stephen Kings and James Pattersons of the publishing world--that we are a much more fragmented reading society today than we were in 1972, when your local bookstore was likely to have an Irving Wallace floor display in the window. 

Life and Water: Initial Relflections

Hello Everyone! My name is Sophia and this is my second week as a CLIR CCEPS Fellow! I am excited to continue to learn and grow in this new position!

The past two weeks have led me to consider how water influences our daily lives and the lives of other living things. I spent a lot of time reading about Harold S. Stewart, born in 1894, and how he spent his time. He worked on the advisory boards of citrus growing companies throughout the Upland area and most importantly on the San Antonio Water Company board. Water and its multitude of uses was a big part of his professional life.

Besides learning about his career, I learned about the things that interested him: hiking and hunting. The importance of water can often be easily overlooked, but as Stewart told the story of the San Antonio mountain range as an ever-changing place, I began to see water's influence. He recalled the wildlife and how there were fewer deer and mountain lions as he grew older. Simultaneously, water was being used to cultivate citrus, and collected to be sold by companies across the Inland Empire. Were the changes in animal populations reflecting some of the changes in water usage? I am not claiming correlation, but rather noting the deep interconnectedness of the world that takes shape through water.

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1,000th Scanned Document!!!!

Today marks quite a milestone! This is the 1,000th page digitized at NARA for the CLIRWater project. People often wonder why more collections are not made available to researchers digitally. It has taken approximately 180 hours to scan these 1,000 documents. The All-American Canal Project Histories 1934-1954 collection is made up of 2 linear feet, and 10 linear inches of documents. These 1,000 pages are barely one-third of the relatively small collection. It will likely take another 350-400 hours to complete the digitization of the documents in this collection. These hours do not even include the scanning of the over-sized documents mentioned in last week's blog post. There are also two additional NARA collections to be scanned for the CLIRWater project, and each is slightly bigger than the All-American Canal Project Histories 1934-1954 collection. It takes a considerable amount of costly labor, as well as specialized equipment and dedicated digital storage, to bring collections like these to the masses in a digital form. This is precisely why funding for projects like the CLIRWater project is so precious. 

1000th scan.jpg

Series: All-American Canal Project Histories, 1948-1954. Record Group 48: Records of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior, 1826-2009. National Archives Identifier: 2292770


I am always trying to understand what Mr. Frankish is trying to convey in his letters. The following is an excerpt from a letter to Mr. MacNeil,


My object in writing you tonight is to ask you if there is no way in which we can retain this either by garnishee or must we really let it go to that fellow "like butter down a dog's throat."


Some challenges are like bitter pills. I can crush the pill and use peanut butter to trick myself into eating the pill. Unfortunately at times, I manage to eat the peanut butter, but still avoid taking the pill. If that happens, I will have to investigate other measures with a higher probability of success. Either way, garnishee seems like a better option. I will try that next time. Thank you Mr. Frankish!

New Experience

Hello everyone!

My name is Justyna and this is my first week as a CCEPS Fellow. Thank you for the warm welcome and introducing me to this new environment. 

I am working on the John Laurence Seymour papers. So far I have looked into the impressed amount of his letters, plays he wrote, lectures, music scores, and educational materials. He was an American 20th century playwright and composer. His main passion, however, seems to be directing plays with students at the colleges he taught. In one of the letters he received from the Los Angeles City College it says that they couldn't perform his play "Three Brothers." The reason.... "lack of men..." It was 1942, and the war has hit the junior colleges male enrollment. How lucky we are today, we do not have to worry about that. Below is the picture of John Seymour as a young man.
I am looking forward to learn more about this extraordinary person. 


Over-sized Items

     When the largest document a scanner can accommodate is 12.5 inches by 17.5 inches, there are bound to be documents that are too large and must be scanned on other equipment. So far, there have been approximately 200 over-sized items in the All American Canal Project Histories Collection. This means that for about every five items which fit in the Epson Expression 10000 XL scanner, about one of them will not fit. The photo below is an example of a VERY over-sized item. Measuring approximately 6.5 feet wide, and 10.5 inches tall, this map will need to be scanned on specialized equipment. As you can see, by just taking a panoramic photograph of the map, the dimensions and details are distorted and some of the information is lost. This is why these items are set aside until they can be scanned on either a scanner with a larger scanning surface, or a scanner which allows the feeding through of long documents. Scanning of this map will likely be completed on an engineering scanner. Engineering scanners essentially feed through a document while scanning it at the same time. All oversized items in this collection are being noted so that way they can be scanned together when all of the other smaller documents are finished being scanned.

1940 oversize map.jpeg

Series: All-American Canal Project Histories, 1948-1954. Record Group 48: Records of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior, 1826-2009. National Archives Identifier: 2292770

All in the Family

It took a village to produce an Irving Wallace best-seller. From copy editors to publicists to research assistants, Wallace relied on a far-flung network of skilled professionals to realize his vision on the page. Among the more intriguing members of this network was Wallace's wife, Sylvia. As the former editor of Hollywood fan magazines Modern Screen and Photoplay, Sylvia was once a rising star in the West Coast publishing world. Like so many women of her generation, however, Sylvia faced strong pressure to stay at home and raise children. After the birth of her second child, she left her career as an editor and devoted her efforts to advancing her husband's writing career.

In 1970, Sylvia traveled to London to conduct some on-the-ground research for her husband's in-progress novel The Word. The documents from this trip reflect Sylvia's keen eye as an observer of culture. Attempting to document the imagined rituals of one of the novel's characters (an Oxford professor), Sylvia visited the British Museum and a nearby pub, where, she imagined, the professor might have a hot meat pie and pint of beer at his small round table. These notes, along with Sylvia's accompanying photographs (see below), form a colorful snapshot of the world Irving Wallace was hoping to re-create on the page. Surely, Sylvia's research was vital to her husband's work. 



Evidently, Sylvia Wallace eventually tired of playing second fiddle to her husband. In the 1970s, she broke out with two best-selling novels of her own, The Fountains and Empress, and thus solidified the Wallaces' reputation as one of the publishing world's most prolific families.