Department Blog

Special Collections

Happy Birthday Mark Twain

November 30th, 2016 by Jenny Hodge
Samuel Clemens

Samuel Clemens

50 Features of Special Collections: Mark Twain Bronze Sculpture

November 29th, 2016 by Daryl Morrison


The famed author Samuel Clemens (1835-1910) better known by his nom de plume Mark Twain was born in Missouri on November 30th so it seems fitting to celebrate one of our “50 features of Special Collections” on the Mark Twain bust owned by the library.

The Mark Twain bust was created by artist Walter Bowman Russell (1871-1963) in 1935 and is located on the second floor of the library near the Main Reading Room.  The bronze bust of Mark Twain was donated by the Danel and Reboin families, owners of the Herald Printing Co. The bust plaque notes that it is a gift to the library by “Ralph and Daisy Danel, Sr., Ralph and Judee Danel, Robert and Rosemary Reboin, Stephen and Janice Danel, and the Herald Printing Company.” It was donated in 2000, along with the Sacramento Union Records held by Special Collections. The Sacramento Union was the oldest daily newspaper west of the Mississippi, until it closed its doors in 1994.

Twain is remembered for his wonderful novels but also for his contributions to the Sacramento Union.  The point was made  evident through  the large bronze bust of Twain, which sat just west of the State Capitol in the lobby of the Sacramento Union’s building at 301 Capitol Mall. Twain dispatched a series of articles on Hawaii for the Union in 1866. These were very popular, and many historians credit the series with turning Twain into a journalistic star.

Mark Twain, 1907

Inscribed on the bust were Twain’s words: “Early in 1866, George Barnes invited me to resign my reportership on his paper, the San Francisco Morning Call, and for some months thereafter, I was without money or work; then I had a pleasant turn of fortune. The proprietors of the Sacramento Union, a great and influential daily journal, sent me to the Sandwich Islands to write four letters a month at twenty dollars a piece. I was there for four or five months, and returned to find myself about the best known man on the Pacific Coast.”

The sculptor, Walter Bowman Russell (May 19, 1871 – May 19, 1963) was an American painter (of the Boston School), sculptor, natural philosopher, musician, author and builder. His lectures and writing place him firmly in the New Thought Movement. The New York Herald Tribune, called him “the modern Leonardo, a Renaissance man for the twentieth century.”

By Glenn Clark (Walter Russell - Vielfalt im Einklang)

Walter Russell

At age 56 Walter Russell turned to sculpture and fashioned portrait busts of Thomas Edison, General MacArthur, John Philip Sousa, Ossip Gabrilowitsch, Charles Goodyear, and others. He rose to top rank as a sculptor. He won the commissions for the Mark Twain Memorial (1934) and for President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s The Four Freedoms (1943).

Walter Russell successfully explored music, literature, architecture, painting, sculpture, natural sciences, new ways towards a healthy economy, philosophy and mysticism as well as figure skating, horse breeding and dressage. Together with his second wife Lao, he founded a private university for distance learning, the University of Science and Philosophy in Swannanoa, Virginia. You can find a summary of Walter Russell’s life and work at

50 Features of Special Collections: Pomo Feathered Baskets in the Michael and Margaret B. Harrison Western Research Center

November 22nd, 2016 by Daryl Morrison


Michael and Margaret B. Harrison Western Research Center is a collection of over 21,000 volumes on the American West.  Over the years Mike Harrison collected Native American baskets, pottery, silver, and other Native American art.  The majority of the artifact collection was donated to museums prior to the collection coming to UC Davis. However, some personal favorites were displayed in the Harrison home and were donated with the book collection.

The Harrison Collection includes Native American handicrafts from the Southwest, Northwest Coast, California, and Alaska. There are approximately 30 pieces of pottery and 80 baskets including delicate Pomo feathered baskets. The Pomo baskets are of particular interest because of their beauty and fine workmanship.

In 1934 Mike Harrison worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and was transferred from the Southwest to San Francisco, California as assistant to the regional coordinator, Roy Nash.  In 1935 he was sent to Ukiah, California as agent in charge of Lake, Mendocino, and Sonoma Counties.  It was there that he connected with Pomo Indians and collected Pomo feathered baskets. The Pomo people are an indigenous people of California. The historic Pomo territory in northern California was large, bordered by the Pacific Coast to the west, extending inland to Clear Lake, and mainly between Cleone and Duncans Point. Pomo baskets made by Pomo Indian women of Northern California are recognized worldwide for their exquisite appearance, range of technique, fineness of weave, and diversity of form and use. While women mostly made baskets for cooking, storing food, and religious ceremonies, Pomo men also made baskets for fishing weirs, bird traps, and baby baskets.

Pomo baskets are made with many details and many different designs. The materials used in making these baskets are harvested each year. Swamp canes, saguaro cactuses, rye grass, black ash, willow shoots, sedge roots and redbud are all used in the weaving of these baskets. After being picked, they are dried, cleaned, split, soaked and dyed. Sometimes the materials are boiled over a fire and then set in the sun to dry.

The intricately woven feathers worked into designs are spectacular works of art. This Pomo feathered gift basket by Carrie Davis of Upper Lake, ca. 1941 is solidly feathered in red, green and yellow, decorated with clam shell disc beads and abalone pendants.  It is edged with quail plumes; 4” in diameter and 1 ¾ inches high.


The thumbnail size miniature baskets are true examples of the patience and artistry of the designer.


Of particular interest are Michael Harrison’s ethnographic notes regarding his basket collection.  He notes the dates purchased (primarily from the 1930-40s), the name of the weaver, for instance one is noted as Mrs. Lydia Fought, a Pomo, from Upper Lake, California, and the materials used—one is described as Green (Mallard Duck), Yellow (meadowlark) and White Root-3 stick basket. Ms. Fought is noted as being full blood Pomo and born in the year 1887.  He then takes a photograph of the maker with her wares.



This Pomo feathered gift basket by Lydia Fought of Upper Lake, circa 1941 is fully feathered in green and yellow; 4 ½ inches diameter and 1 ¾ inches high.



The beautiful baskets combined with the Mike Harrison descriptions make a wonderful small collection.

50 Features of Special Collections: Michael N. Westergard bronzes in the Michael and Margaret B. Harrison Western Research Center

November 17th, 2016 by Daryl Morrison


Michael Harrison with his wife Maggie Harrison collected over 21,000 volumes on the American West.  Mike Harrison was particularly interested in artists of the West and tracked their work through books , journals, and western art.

Mike Harrison sought authentic views of the West.  He became enamored with the work of bronze sculptor Michael Westergard for his beautiful iconic sculptures of western subjects including fauna of the west, Native Americans, the Custer Fight and other western themes.

Mike collected close to 60 bronze sculptures, likely the largest collection in private hands or museums of Westergard bronzes.  Up until his passing, Mike Harrison had a standing order with the Westergard, so that he was schedule to receive the next bronze to be produced. He was on schedule to obtain the first numbered casting available for sale.

Mike loved the images of western wildlife such as bear, buffalo, and pronghorn deer, but even more so the Native American subjects with their researched authentic dress, accoutrements and poses.  Of particular interest to Mike Harrison was Westergard’s use of artist Karl Bodmer’s journals and watercolors.  Bodmer accompanied German Prince Maximillian Du Wied, on a scientific expedition and hunting trip to the American West in 1833-1834 as artist.  Westergard used the Bodmer paintings to create historically accurate sculptures of the Native Peoples they encountered.


Westergard had to envision how to make the two dimensional paintings into  3-dimensions by considering what might have been on the backside of the subject to round out dress and accoutrements.

Michael Westergard’s career spans over 20 years. He has won numerous awards including being selected as Best Living Western Sculptor by the historical publication True West Magazine and also selected as a participating artist in the prestigious Best of Scottsdale Show held in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Westergard lists some of the major institutions that house his works including the permanent collection of the U.S. Air Force, National Park Service (such as the Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument, Crow Agency, Montana) and the Favell Museum, Klamath Falls, Oregon. He pays homage to the Michael Harrison Western History Research Center, University of California at Davis which houses the most extensive collection of his work.

Visit the Westergard-Ragucci Bronze Studio website for more information about Michael Westergard.

To learn more Michael Harrison see the Michael and Margaret B. Harrison Western Research Center.

For an appointment to see the Harrison Western Research Center and the Westergard bronzes contact the Special Collections Department, University of California, Davis Library at


50 Features of Special Collections: Royal Columbian Press

November 9th, 2016 by Daryl Morrison


Royal Columbian Press

Built by Thomas Long of Edinburgh, Scotland, 1832-1850. The Columbian Press was invented by George Clymer of Philadelphia in 1813. Donated to the University Library by the Library Associates of the University of California, Davis, in 1968.

The Royal Columbian Press is housed in the lower level of the library and now is enjoyed by all as an historic piece of equipment. It is beautiful in its own right as well as being an important artifact of printing history.

The Royal Columbian Press (platen size, 25 X 20 inches) was manufactured in Edinburgh, Scotland by Thomas Long of Edinburgh sometime between 1832 and 1850.  Little is known of its ownership history.  The Library Associates purchased and donated the press for the General Library, University of California, Davis in 1968. It was obtained through the assistance of Roger Levenson of the Tamalpais Press of Berkeley and purchased in England.

The invention of the Columbian press by George Clymer of Philadelphia in 1813 represents America’s first important contribution to printing.  Crowned by the American eagle, this beautifully ornate iron printing press, indeed the most ornate of the hand-presses, dispensed with the screw, substituting instead a series of compound levers, which multiplied the pull of the pressman.  Though first introduced in the United States, it was never very popular since its cost was prohibitive for most American printers of the time.dscf0398s

In 1817, at the age of 63, Clymer immigrated to England where the introduction of the Columbian press was heralded by a series of testimonials from American printers giving the impression that the Columbian was in wide use in the United States.  In true American fashion, Clymer expanded his publicity campaign, which included the presentation of Columbians to the reigning monarchs of Russia and the Netherlands.  After the press was tested by four leading printers, the Tsar rewarded Clymer with a gift of 500 rubles, while the King of the Netherlands gave him a gold medal valued at 100 ducats.  Soon after its introduction into England, the Columbian press was fully accepted by the London printers of the day and was manufactured in England and Scotland as well as on the continent.  George Clymer died in August 27, 1834, at the age of 80, but Columbian presses continued to be manufactured throughout the century.


On This Day: Johnny Cash performed at Folsom Prison

November 8th, 2016 by Sara Gunasekara

You’ve probably heard Johnny Cash’s famous song, “Folsom Prison Blues,” and may know that Cash performed his live album, Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, at the prison in January 1968. But did you know that his first concert at Folsom Prison was 50 years ago today?

On November 8, 1966 (the same day that Ronald Reagan was elected governor of California), Johnny Cash performed at Folsom Prison in front of approximately 1,800 inmates. Although Cash wrote his famous song “Folsom Prison Blues” in 1955, it wasn’t until this 1966 concert that he first stepped foot in Folsom Prison.

According to the November 9, 1966 Sacramento Bee article, “Folsom Inmates Brave Chill for ‘Friend’ Cash,”  the concert also featured the four female singers, Maybelle Carter, June Carter, Helen Carter, and Anita Carter, who were known as the Carter Family. The Statler Brothers, another opening act, provided takeoffs on Dean Martin, Bing Crosby, The Ink Spots, and the McGuire Sisters.

The photographs of the concert, seen below, are from the Sacramento Union Newspaper Archives. Until it closed its doors in 1994, the Sacramento Union was the oldest daily newspaper west of the Mississippi.


Johnny Cash performs at Folsom Prison on November 8, 1966. Photograph from the Sacramento Union Archives, D-350

Johnny Cash performs at Folsom Prison on November 8, 1966. Photograph from the Sacramento Union Archives, D-350.


Johnny Cash performs with the Carter Family at Folsom Prison on November 8, 1966.  Photograph from the Sacramento Union Archives, D-350

Johnny Cash performs with the Carter Family at Folsom Prison on November 8, 1966. Photograph from the Sacramento Union Archives, D-350.

50 Features of Special Collections: Toby Cole Archives

November 3rd, 2016 by Sara Gunasekara


This week we are highlighting the Toby Cole Archives as part of our 50 Features of Special Collections series.

Toby Cole was born Marion Cholodenko on January 27, 1916 in Newark, New Jersey. She developed an interest in theatre at an early age, and embarked upon her theatrical career under the auspices of The Workmen’s Circle, a Jewish socialist fraternal organization. From 1938 to 1956, she demonstrated her penchant for socially committed theatre, participating in such groups as The Newark Jack London Club, The Newark Collective Theatre, The New Theatre League School, and the Federal Theatre Project. She also served as assistant to the producer on Broadway productions of Counterattack and Finian’s Rainbow, and as producer for Children’s Holiday Theatre in New York.

Cole established an actor’s agency in 1957, operating from an office in the Sardi Building. Zero Mostel, whom she represented for many years, was her first “star.” With the founding of the Toby Cole Actors and Authors Agency, Cole added playwrights and translators to her clientele. She concentrated on playwrights whose works appealed to the Off-Broadway producers. That is, she promoted plays that she considered high quality and socially/politically relevant, thereby introducing to the U.S. such seminal playwrights as Sam Shepard, Edward Bond, and Simon Gray. She also brought to the New York stage translations of foreign plays by Brecht, Pirandello, and Witkiewicz, among others. Moreover, Cole circulated plays outside of New York and acted as agent for amateur as well as professional rights.

Cole passed away on May 22, 2008.

The Toby Cole Archives consist of materials relating to her activities as a theatrical-literary agent. These materials include books, business records, clippings, correspondence, financial papers, legal documents, photographs, programs, promotional materials, and scripts.

Among numerous scripts are those by Saul Bellow and Sam Shepard. Some of these works are originals, some are unpublished, and some are in several versions. These plays are supported by extensive correspondence discussing them and their production.

Correspondence also reveals Cole’s arrangements with many other playwrights and actors such as William Alfred, John Arden, Eric Bentley, Edward Bond, Bertolt Brecht (estate), Barbara Garson, Simon Gray, Sam Jaffe, Zero Mostel, and Luigi Pirandello (estate), among others.

The collection as a whole offers a remarkable look at the activities of a theatrical agency.

Toby Cole Letterhead

Toby Cole Letterhead