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University of the Pacific

John Muir Collections

Since 1970, the University of the Pacific, in Stockton, California, has been the repository for the John Muir Papers, and much of Muir's personal library. The collecton includes Muir's journals and notebooks, correspondence, manuscript writings, drawings, and family and biographers' papers. These materials represent the largest collection of Muir's works in the world. In 1980, the University began a five-year project to gather and publish these documents. The project culminated in a microfilm/microfiche edition of Muir's papers. Published as The John Muir Papers, 1858-1957, the limited copies were distributed to forty repositories throughout the United States, giving access to researchers around the United States. In recent years ,much of the microfilm collection has been digitized, and there is an ongoing project to crowd-source the transcription of Muir's journals and letters to allow for full-text searching. Since that time, additional Muir-related materials has been added to the library's special collections.

Why the University of the Pacific? Several of Muir's descendants attended University of the Pacific during the 1940s and 1950s. In 1970, the heirs of Muir's two daughters, Wanda Muir-Hanna and Helen Muir-Funk, entrusted University of the Pacific with the majority of John Muir's manuscripts and personal papers. That indefinite loan led to additional acquisitions, including most of Muir's personal library and a portion of his office furniture from his home in Martinez. In 2019, the University of Pacific was given ownership of Muir's papers.

In 2021, the University began preparing the "Muir Experience" museum, with artifacts and exhibits explaining Muir's life in full.

The University of the Pacific hosted the first academic conference on John Muir in 1980, and has hosted additional Muir conferences at least every five years thereafter. Several books resulting from the papers presented at these conferences are annotated in our Historical and Literary Analyses section of our John Muir Bibliography, wthi the most recent noted below.

Today, the University of the Pacific continues to host several programs related to John Muir:

  • Researching John Muir - Overview of John Muir Collections at Holt-Atherton Special Collections and Archives (off-site link current as of 3 April 2022).
  • John Muir Papers - Scholarly Commons - Digital Archives (off-site link as of 3 April 2022)
  • The Muir Center hosts the Muir Symposium to explore and examine Muir and the beginning of the Conservation Movement. The now quadrennial event focuses on the life and legacy of Muir with speakers, meals, receptions, and field trips.
  • John Muir Center for Environmental Studies - The Center facilitates scholarly research on John Muir, and sponsors classes, symposia and publications, including the John Muir Newsletter and a monograph series about John Muir.
  • John Muir Newsletter - the quarterly newsletter published by the John Muir Center containing articles, book reviews and news of interest to Muir scholars.
    We host online a number of articles from back issues of this outstanding publication.
  • John Muir Collections, repository for the John Muir Papers - Holt-Atherton Library, University of the Pacific (off-site link)
    The John Muir Papers include correspondence, journals, notebooks, unpublished and published manuscripts, miscellaneous notes, sketches and photographs. Muir's unpublished writings were until recently the literary property of the Muir-Hanna Trust; in 2019 they were donated to the University of the Pacific and remain protected by copyright.
  • You can volunteer to help transcribe John Muir's journals. (off-site link, accessed 3 April 2022)
  • Other Resources from University of the Pacific:

    • Limbaugh, Ronald H. and Kirsten E. Lewis, editors, The John Muir Papers, 1858-1957 MICROFORM, With accompanying Guide (Alexandria, Virginia: Chadwyk Healey, 1986).
      With 40 copies in libraries throughout the United States, and available to scholars through interlibrary loan, this is the complete collection of all extant Muir correspondence, manuscripts, journals, sketchbooks, notes, and pictorial works.
    • John Muir Newsletter - published until 2015.
    • Article: John Muir's legacy showcased at University of the Pacific
      By Anthony Cusumano <cusumano@tracypress.com> , Lodi News-Sentinel - Lodi,C A,USA (January 31, 2005)
      ust as John Muir dedicated his life to preserve Sierra Nevada treasures such as Yosemite Valley, officials at the University of the Pacific try to do the same to his legacy. The university's Holt-Atherton Special Collections department has nearly 17,000 items in its "John Muir Papers" collection. (offsite link accessed 3 April 2022).
    • John Muir's Personal Library - 700 books that belonged to John Muir, many with his notes and annotations, available to researchers. This page offers an embedded PDF file listing all the books. (offsite link working as of 3 April 2022, but the UOP frequently changes the URL for this page.)
    • Muiriana collections - a wide array of family papers, photos memorabilia , genealogical materials, various biographers' notes/collections, reminiscences by John Muir's contemporaries, materials on the the creation of the John Muir Memorial County Park on the first Wisconsin homesite of John Muir in 1957, and correspondence not contained in the John Muir Papers proper.
    • Several years ago, a PBS affiliate in Sacramento offered a video visit of the John Muir Collection at the Holt-Atherton Library, including an interview of librarian Shan Sutton. This episode of "Rob on the Road" by KVIE Public Television (PBS affiliae in Sacramento) took you inside Muir’s personal journals and some of his remarkable sketches. Contact KVIE Public Television for more information.
    • Visit John Muir and the Sierra Club (2019) - off-site link to the archive.org "Wayback Machine" archived website/blog created by students at the University of the Pacific, hoping to "educate young minds on who John Muir was, his importance, his legacy, and his impact. The site offered ways to view old photographs and modern nature landscapes, to listen to beautiful narrations from John Muir's journals, and provided video interviews of current Sierra Club members themselves. The original domain has expeired, and unfortunately, The Wayback Machine was unable to archive all the pages of this website before the original domain lapsed.

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