Harbach and the Housebook

This is Part XII of a Series: To learn more about the Lummis Housebook Digitization Project, read the introductory post So Lummis Pretty Much Knew Everybody, Didn’t He? For the other posts in the series, click here.

Sketch by Peter Newell, Date unknown.
Charles Fletcher Lummis Papers, Braun Research Library Collection, Autry National Center; MS.1, page 281.

This issue of Harbach and the Housebook includes a person who participated in one of the most unusual (and somewhat humorous) medical tests ever conducted by a major U.S. university. It also includes one of the best-​known photographers of Southwestern Indians, who later founded a bookstore that is now the largest and oldest independent bookstore in Southern California. You’ll also get to meet one of America’s most important “muckraking” (investigative) journalists, who established the United States’ first newspaper syndicate.

  1. Jesse H. Buffum—In January 1912, Harvard student Jesse H. Buffum visited Lummis at El Alisal and signed the housebook. Underneath Buffum’s signature, Lummis wrote “Buffum Bros. ocean to ocean diet test walk of 3600 miles from Boston to Los Angeles, for Harvard University — July 8 to December 16, 1911.” The story behind Lummis’s note is that Harvard students Jesse and his brother Warren walked from Boston to Los Angeles to “test” whether a person who only ate meat (Jesse) would end up in better condition than someone who only ate vegetables (Warren). Warren made it to Los Angeles first, and Jesse had to board a train while still 300 miles from his goal. One of the most interesting aspects of this story is that it was sanctioned by Harvard and overseen by the university’s medical director. However, when the walk concluded, the medical director—who had originally suggested the walk—was quoted as saying “It doesn’t prove anything.” I’m sure the Buffum brothers were pleased to hear this after walking 3,600 miles! If you’d like to read more about this transcontinental walk in the name of “science,” you can find the New York Times’ coverage of the event at the following link: http://​query​.nytimes​.com/​g​s​t​/​a​b​s​t​r​a​c​t​.​h​t​m​l​?​r​e​s​=​F​0​0​6​1​5​F​7​3​A​5​8​1​3​7​3​8​D​D​D​A​E​0​8​9​4​D​9​4​0​5​B​8​2​8​D​F​1D3.
  2. Adam Clark Vroman—an avid photographer of the Southwest and Native American culture. From 1895 to 1904, he produced a remarkable series of photographs of American Indians that portrayed them as human beings rather than as objects of anthropological studies or romanticized curiosities. Vroman’s Bookstore, which he founded in 1894, is the oldest and largest independent bookstore in Southern California.
  3. Samuel Sydney McClure—a key figure in muckraking (investigative) journalism in the United States. In 1884, he established the McClure Syndicate, the first U.S. newspaper syndicate. He also founded and ran the widely circulated McClure’s Magazine from 1893 to 1911, which published influential pieces by respected journalists and authors including Ida Tarbell, Upton Sinclair, Rudyard Kipling, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Lewis Stevenson, Willa Cather, and Lincoln Steffens. Through his magazine, he also introduced Dr. Maria Montessori’s new teaching methods to North America in 1911.
  4. Opal Stanley Whiteley—an American nature writer and diarist. Her childhood journal was first published in 1920 as The Story of Opal in serialized form in the Atlantic Monthly, then later that same year as a book with the title The Story of Opal: The Journal of an Understanding Heart.
  5. Willard Huntington Wright—a U.S art critic and author. He created the once immensely popular fictional detective Philo Vance, who first appeared in books in the 1920s, then in movies and on the radio. Wright wrote under the pseudonym of S. S. Van Dine.
  6. Stewart Edward White—American author and conservationist who wrote The Blazed Trail in 1902, as well as many other works of a metaphysical nature, works of history, travel and adventure books, children’s books, essays, and short stories. His books were often of a motivational nature and were squarely based on his own life’s experiences, many of which took place in the American West.
  7. Prentice Duell—a professor of architecture at various schools. Duell studied Etruscan painting of the fifth century BC at Tarquinia, Italy, in 1929, and made archaeologically accurate copies in color of the best preserved tombs of this period. He also conducted studies of Southwestern Spanish mission architecture in 1916–1917.
  8. Frank W. Blackmar—American sociologist, historian, and educator who served as the ninth president of the American Sociological Society (now known as the American Sociological Association). One of his major books was Spanish Colonization of the Southwest.
  9. Horace Davis—a United States Representative from California who helped found the Mercantile Library Association of California (the state’s oldest public library). He later presided over both the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and the Savings and Loan Society and was a member of the Republican National Committee. At various other times during his career he served as the president of the University of California; president of the board of trustees of Stanford University; president of the University of California, Berkeley; California State Librarian; and president of the American Library Association.
  10. Alice Harriman—poet, author, and publisher who was interested in Native American issues.
  11. Inez Harmer Northrop—wife of John Knudsen Northrop, the founder of Northrop Aircraft.
  12. James E. Jenkins—Department of the Interior Special Inspector who oversaw the 1903 Cupeño Indian removal from Warner’s Ranch (now known as Warner Springs) to Pala in California. Charles Lummis also became involved with this process when he was asked to chair the Department of the Interior’s advisory commission charged with making a recommendation for a tract of land suitable for the Warner’s Ranch Indians.

In our next issue, you’ll be introduced to a physician who played a major role in developing the plans for the Hollywood Bowl. You’ll also meet a Polish-​American pianist, composer, and teacher who was one of the most highly regarded performers of his era. See you next time.

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About the author

Dennis Harbach is a former Autry volunteer. He worked on describing and researching the digitized pages of the Lummis Housebook at the Braun Library. He was a long time volunteer and worked on other projects and with other departments in the past, but “retired” from volunteering semi-recently.