Remembering “Grammable” Food

Unquestionably, Instagram provides a space for users to share photos of amazing memories. One particularly popular category of photos shared on the platform revolves around food. Users often seek out meals or snacks simply because they know the food will create a “grammable” photo. But how did people remember these “grammable” meals prior to the invention of Instagram? For John Laurence Seymour, it was by recording the meals in his diaries. From the years 1928-1982 Seymour wrote in his journals meticulously. In his daily entries, he nearly always recorded the weather, kept track of what operas and other theatrical shows he saw with his mother, and notated various meals and snacks he ate. Typically, his mother Rose (whom he affectionately called “Rosie”) would be the chef or baker behind the corn chowders or banana cakes notated on the diary pages. Seymour would often notate picking fruit, such as oranges, nectarines, or apricots, and the next day would write about the upside down cake Rosie made out of the fresh harvest. 

Below are 3 excerpts from Seymour’s 1933 diary. Each entry highlighting a Rosie specialty, such as chicken dinner, plum upside down cake, and duck served alongside Birthday Cake!
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A Rose Among Flowers

John Laurence Seymour’s mother, Rose A. Seymour, loved flowers. Photographs spanning the decades of her life frequently feature her posing with flowers. Sometimes she is holding the flowers, sometimes she is standing next to them, and sometimes she is in the shrubbery with them. For Valentines Day, I thought it would be apropos to have Rose Seymour share some flowers with you.

The first photo is of Rose in either 1898 or 1899, on a porch in South Pasadena. The second photo is Rose posing at home in a large shrub of blooms in 1947. Finally, the last photo is from 1960, taken by John Seymour while the two were on vacation to the Colorado River Canyon.
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Fannie Charles Dillon

Fannie Charles Dillon
served as a mentor and a teacher to John Laurence Seymour. Both Californians and
musicians, the two shared a special bond. Seymour gave great credit to Dillon’s
composing and teaching. These accolades can be seen in a letter to the editor
Seymour sent to the Pacific Coast Musician
in 1947, just after Dillon’s death (letter below). Seymour kept numerous mementos
from Dillon, including a large collection of her sheet music, many of which she
signed and inscribed with notes to Seymour and his mother Rose (autographed
sheet music below). The black and white photograph below is of Seymour and
Dillon, taken only a few months before her death.  In the collection is also a film negative of
Dillon with Seymour’s Mother, Rose.

Dillon did not just
teach Seymour, she also taught at a number of institutions in Southern
California, including Pomona College. 
Dillon taught at Pomona College from 1910-1913, and she was also a
Pomona College Graduate. Today, her personal papers are kept in the UCLA
Special Collections under the title Fannie
Charles Dillon music manuscripts, 1881-1961
. That finding aid can be 
found in the Online Archive of California (OAC).

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Fannie Dillon001.jpg

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“A Protegee of the Mistress”

From 1926-1940, John Laurence Seymour held an instructor position for the departments of both the Dramatic Arts and English at Sacramento Junior College. As part of his responsibilities for the Department of Dramatic Art, he was tasked with directing all of the school’s theatrical productions. Under Seymour’s careful direction, dozens of productions opened to praise from the local community. Seymour kept mementos of seemingly all of the productions he directed, meaning that the John Laurence Seymour Papers collection is full of programs and photographs from various Sacramento Junior College productions. Below are some mementos from “A Protegee of the Mistress”, performed on May 3, 1929. This production was the first performance of the play in America.

The photos below are scans of hand painted scenes used for the set design. Note that in the photo with the actors, you can see how the set created for scene 3 translated to real life! 
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Transitioning from NARA to Special Collections

While being a CLIR CCEPS Fellow did not make me a government employee…. My project of scanning documents at NARA means that I too suffer the consequences of the Government Shutdown. While it has been a difficult, and boring, month off from scanning, today starts my new CCEPS Fellowship with Honnold/Mudd Special Collections. My new assignment is to complete the processing of the John Laurence Seymour Papers. My colleague working on the project before me completed processing nearly all of Dr. Seymour’s correspondence, which leave me with all of his documents relating to research, family, teaching, travel, productions, music, and of course his impressive collection of meticulously kept diaries. I look forward to getting to know Dr. Seymour better over the course of the semester, as well as making the collection available to future researchers. 

2,000 Scans Completed!

Today marks the completion of the 2,000th scan of the All-American Canal Project Histories at NARA. The first 1,000 pages were completed the week of September 10th. Below is a photo of the 2000th page. Printed in 1947, this page comes from a larger packet that was given to contractors looking to offer bids to work on a section of the canal. At the time, work needed to be completed to reinforce the flood zone embankments. 

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NARA Series: All-American Canal Project Histories, 1948-1954. Record Group 48: Records of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior, 1826-2009. National Archives Identifier: 2292770

Complications of Thin Paper

In a previous post, I discussed the difficulty of working
with very thin “onion skin” paper. In this post, I would like to show
what happens when printing is done on both sides of thin paper. The photo below
is from the 1947 Project History of the Coachella Division of the All-American
Canal. Note how the printing on the reverse side of the paper can be seen
through to the front of the scan. While it does not make the front illegible,
it does make the task of reading the document a bit more challenging. Imagine
trying to read this document if you had a learning disability such as dyslexia,
the extra letters could severely hinder the reader. 

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NARA Series: All-American Canal Project Histories, 1948-1954. Record Group 48: Records of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior, 1826-2009. National Archives Identifier: 2292770

Presentation Completed!

I am pleased to announce that the CLIRWater Presentations went wonderfully! It was so amazing getting to see students, library staff, and representatives of other CLIRWater partner institutions come and support the fellows presenting. It was my first time seeing what collections other fellows were working on. Their presentations did not disappoint! Learning about other waterways in Southern California, and founding fathers of various Inland Empire cities was indeed the highlight of the day. Below is a photograph of myself presenting on Tuesday.

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#CLIRWater Presentation

As is the case with my fellow fellows, this week has been spent preparing for my final presentation on what I have worked on this semester. Working on the presentation was an interesting experience, trying to balance information about the actual process of digitizing while also illuminating the materials in the collection proved tricky. It will be exciting to show the public examples of what materials have been digitized. It will also be a joy to spend time with my other colleagues who have been working on similar projects. The digitization process, as well as archiving, can be extremely lonely. Any chance to mingle with others and break up the isolation is wonderful. 

Since I typically like to provide you all with a photo, please enjoy this lovely photo which begins the 1947 project history!
coloado river water enters coachella valley 1947.PNG
NARA Series: All-American Canal Project Histories, 1948-1954. Record Group 48: Records of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior, 1826-2009. National Archives Identifier: 2292770

Post-War Canal Maintenance: Part 2

Last week it was discussed that during World War 2, all non-essential maintenance on the All-American Canal was halted. By the end of the war, a large section of the banks of the canal had become overrun with vegetation such as willows, and arrow weeds. To combat these issues, an accelerated program of maintenance and rehabilitation was inaugurated in 1946. While last week we saw the maintenance on some of the gate rollers, this week are 2 photos showing how the overrun vegetation was managed. 

Workers on amphibious vessels used flame throwers to burn up the excess flora along the banks of the canal. The photos below show this removal process, as well as give a close up look as to what the amphibious vessels looked like when out of water. 
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NARA Series: All-American Canal Project Histories, 1948-1954. Record Group 48: Records of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior, 1826-2009. National Archives Identifier: 2292770