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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“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. 

My last week.

This is my last week at the CCEPS. The fellowship went so fast and it is hard to believe today is my last day. I wanted to thank you everyone for helping me on the way and making this such a great experience! I had the privilege to start processing John Seymour’s papers and I cannot wait to see the final outcome of this project once it is all finished.  While I was working on Mr. Seymour’s correspondence I found many of his Christmas cards and greetings. I hope your Christmas is just like on the card below – Merry, Happy, and Bright! Happy 2019! Hope to see you around next year! 



Final presentations.

This week our CCEPS team had our culminating presentations. It was really interesting to learn about what other students have been working on during this semester. Marcus Liu, talked about processing the Yao Family papers and Clark Noone, about the Irving Wallace papers, and I was sharing my experience with processing the John Laurence Seymour papers.  Thank you everyone for coming, we had a nice audience of people. Looking back on this fellowship, I am very thankful I had this opportunity to experience something new, try something I have never done before and rediscover the library and its special collection. Thank you everyone for helping me on the way and for your support. Next week will be my last as the CCEPS Fellow. It went so fast and it is hard to believe this semester is almost over.

More letters….

After working with the correspondence of Mr. John Seymour for the last month and a half, I was sure that all the letters have been organized and placed in folders. Well… not completely. Today, I discovered that there are more letters that were hidden between other materials in two other boxes. This is the fun part of working with primary sources that you never know what else will you find. So back to unfolding letters, greetings cards, and other notes. This Christmas card/letter below actually reminded me to send my own soon. 


Presentation and processing.

As the date for our final presentation is set for Dec.12th, I have been thinking this week about what I am going to present. Actually there is quite a lot to talk about. Not only about the materials and information regarding Mr. John Seymour, but about the whole archival processing which is quite new to me. First, I learned that working with primary sources and processing the materials requires patience and a good organization plan. For the last month I have been organizing Mr. Seymour’s correspondence. I have unfolded, removed from envelops, placed in a folded acid free paper, and put in appropriate folders more then 1,000 letters! I still need to create a list of all the folders. It took some time, but it feels good that one of the series is almost completed. 


Thanksgiving of 1975

The day before Thanksgiving is rather quiet at CCEPS and the Honnold Library. Most staff and students most likely travel already or prepare the food. I’m not traveling so I’m here enjoying the, as I would call, “easy finding parking day” on campus.

While looking through some stack of Mr. Seymour’s letters I found this small packet diary from 1975. That year Thanksgiving came on November 27th, so five days later than this year. There is no note on that day and I do not know where or with whom Mr. Seymour spent the day, but he must be somewhere since the next day he wrote “leave for home” and than “bus to C.C.” Well, safe travel everyone and have a great Thanksgiving day! 

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