University of the Pacific on Saturday will hold a celebration after receiving official ownership of thousands of written works by famed naturalist and author 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 in a Wednesday press release. “This celebration is to show our deep appreciation of the family’s donation and to share with the community this extraordinary news.”
Muir’s descendants — several of whom are Pacific alumni — first brought the collection to the Stockton campus in 1970, and the university has curated the works ever since.
Housed in the university’s Holt-Atherton Special Collections and Archives, the Muir collection has grown to include 7,000 correspondences, 400 drawings, 100 journals and notebooks, thousands of photographs and hundreds of manuscripts for books and articles.
The collection also includes Muir’s writing desk, two bookcases with 1,000 books from his personal library and various other items. An oil painting of Vernal Fall in Yosemite National Park by artist William Keith that once hung in Muir’s Martinez home now hangs between the two bookcases.
Pacific students and researchers from around the world can view Muir’s journals, notebooks, sketches and books from his personal library along with his handwritten notes.
“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, in the press release. “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.”
The collection put Pacific on the “John Muir trail,” Swagerty said in the press release, which includes Muir Woods National Monument in Marin County, the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez and Yosemite National Park.
“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, in the press release.