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2019 John Muir Legacy Fair and Celebration

Celebration of Muir-Hanna family's gift of John Muir Papers

University of the Pacific, Stockton, CA,
April 13, 2019

University of the Pacific celebrates Muir-Hanna family's gift of John Muir Papers

Largest collection of Muir papers makes university a global center for Muir, environmental research

University of the Pacific in Stockston, Calfornia, on April 13, 2019 celebrated receiving official ownership of the largest collection of letters, journals and other materials written or owned by famed naturalist, author and environmental philosopher John Muir.

"This is simply a wonderful collection, and we are so very grateful to the Muir-Hanna family for their generous gift."

- Pamela A. Eibeck, President, University of the Pacifi, in Sierra Sun Times, April 11, 2019

John Muir Papers celebration, Saturday, April 13

  • The documentary film "The Unruly Mystic, John Muir" was shown in the afternoon in the Janet Leigh Theatre on the Stockton campus. Director Michael M. Conti was at the screening to discuss the film.
  • A John Muir Legacy Fair was held 2:30-3:30 p.m. on Knoles Lawn on campus, marking the anniversary of Muir's April 21 birthday and the permanent gift of the John Muir Papers. The fair featured tours, interactive demonstrations, exhibits on the environment and sustainability, a virtual reality presentation and more.
  • Celebration: The Gift of the Muir Papers was held 3:30-4:30 p.m. included the formal announcement of the gift with guests including John Muir descendants and dignitaries.

Related Media

"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. "This celebration is to show our deep appreciation of the family's donation and to share with the community this extraordinary news."

The university has curated the collection since 1970, when John Muir descendants, several of whom are Pacific alumni, brought the collection to the Stockton campus. Since then, the collection in the university's Holt-Atherton Special Collections and Archives has grown to include 7,000 correspondences, 100 journals and notebooks, 400 drawings, thousands of photographs, and hundreds of his manuscripts for books and articles. Much of the materials are made available online, and the public is welcome to help transcribe his writings. 

Pacific students and researchers from around the world can look at Muir's journals, notebooks, sketches and books from his personal library; see his handwritten notes; and get a glimpse into how his thoughts on nature developed.

"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. "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."

Swagerty said the collection puts Pacific firmly on the "John Muir trail," which includes Muir Woods National Monument in Marin County, the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez and Yosemite National Park.

Being able to share the John Muir Papers is a highlight of having the collection here.

"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.

The overall collection includes Muir's writing desk, two bookcases containing 1,000 books from his personal library in his Martinez home and other assorted items. A William Keith oil painting of Vernal Fall in Yosemite National Park that once hung in his Martinez home now hangs between the bookcases. In all, nine Muir family members have graduated from Pacific, and the family received the 2009 Pacific Alumni Association Outstanding Family Award.

The celebration includes three events that are open and free to the public. 

News Media About this Event

"John Muir Collection Donated to UOP Holt Atherton Archives," KFBK News Radio, April 12, 2019: Mike Wurtz, head of Pacific's Holt Atherton Special Collections and Archives, was interviewed for this story. Of Muir's most famous quote, Wurtz told KFBK: "It turns out what Muir actually wrote was, 'The mountains are calling and I must go and I will work on while I can, studying incessantly.' He wanted to understand the places he went to in the Sierra, but more importantly he wanted to work on and study and preserve these places."

"Pacific hosting weekend of events celebrating gift of John Muir papers," The Record, April 12, 2019: The celebration of the transfer of ownership of the John Muir Papers from the Muir-Hanna family to the university was advanced in this story, which included images of items from the collection. "Part of the reason for the (initial) loan (to Pacific) is the family wanted to make sure the receiving institution was going to do what they said they would," said Bill Hanna '67, Muir's great-grandson. "It also was to have control over the content of the papers in case there was anything damaging to Muir's reputation. ... They've really expanded the exposure to Muir and his ideas and have made access to the materials very, very easy. They have a lot of things you can look at online. (Digitizing the collections) is something we would not have been able to do, and they have maintained the papers, stored them and preserved them in the best way possible. They did everything we had hoped they would do." The story included a link to an online photo gallery, "Muir collection at home at Pacific."

"University of the Pacific Celebrates Muir-Hanna Family's Gift of John Muir Papers," Sierra Sun Times, April 11, 2019: Pacific President Pamela A. Eibeck was quoted in this story ahead of the celebration of the gift of the John Muir Papers by the Muir-Hanna family to the university. "This is simply a wonderful collection, and we are so very grateful to the Muir-Hanna family for their generous gift," Eibeck told the Sierra Sun Times. "This celebration is to show our deep appreciation of the family's donation and to share with the community this extraordinary news."

"University of the Pacific on John Muir: Timeless Champion of Nature," Sierra Sun Times (Mariposa), April 13, 2019: Bill Swagerty, the John Muir Center director and professor of history, authored a commentary on the importance of John Muir and how he became "The Greatest Californian." "The Muir collections at University of the Pacific have played a key role in this maturation process within the academy, as well as in reaching a much broader audience," wrote Swagerty. "Since Muir's death in 1914, more than 100 books on Muir have been published, some as overviews, others as very specialized aspects of Muir's life or his impact and contributions. ... Those who 'do Muir' seriously must find their way to Stockton if their work is to be original, comprehensive and well received. And those who do not make it to Pacific's Holt-Atherton Special Collections still benefit from the dissemination of Muir studies - a subfield that bridges the natural sciences, the humanities and the social sciences with a tag of its own - Muiriana."

"Guest view: Muir collection an education in understanding, preserving nature," The Record, April 12, 2019: Mike Wurtz, head of Pacific's Holt-Atherton Special Collections and Archives, authored a commentary on the use of the John Muir Papers in student research and as a call to action in preserving nature. "Even with all the environmental challenges we face today, we must never give up hope," wrote Wurtz. "We can emulate the spirit of John Muir and through the wonderful gift from his living descendants, we can all work together to preserve nature for future generations to love and cherish as he did. If we do not, John Muir's words may be all we have left of nature."

John Muir's Stockton Legacy By Mike Wurtz, UOP, Apr 12, 2019

"Mike Wurtz on The Voice of San Joaquin and Stockton," Peace and Justice Connections Radio, April 2019: Head of Holt-Atherton Special Collections and Archive Mike Wurtz was on this online radio broadcast to discuss the April 13 celebration of the Muir-Hanna family donation of the John Muir Papers. 

John Muir: Timeless champion of nature By William R. Swagerty, UOP, Apr 12, 2019


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