A Yosemite Flora

Cover of "Yosemite Flora"
Cover of “A Yosemite Flora”

In 1912, the field guide was still a fairly new kind of book. The first modern field guide was Birds Through an Opera-Glass, written in 1890 by Florence August Merriam (1863-1948). The first botanical field guide in the United States was the 1893 How to Know the Wildflowers, by Mrs. William Starr Dana (Frances Theodora Parsons, 1861-1952). The public was clearly eager for these new field guides, as Parsons’s first printing sold out in five days, and she published several subsequent editions.

Harvey and Carlotta Hall’s 1912 field guide A Yosemite Flora is a work of the highest academic quality. Paul Elder published several “armchair nature” books, notably Bird Notes Afield by Charles Keeler, but this is the botany book that Keeler might well have carried in his back pocket while traipsing through the Sierras. It is profusely illustrated with 170 drawings and eleven plates (though due to a production error many copies were issued without plates 2-11, and contain an errata slip to that effect).

Frontispiece and title page to "A Yosemite Flora"
Frontispiece and title page to “A Yosemite Flora”

Harvey Monroe Hall (1874-1932) was born in Illinois but grew up in Riverside, California. He received his Ph.D. in botany in 1906 from the University of California, Berkeley, writing a thesis entitled The Compositae of Southern California. He remained on the UC faculty until 1919, when he joined the Carnegie Institute. There he began an exploration of experimental methods of plant taxonomy. In 1929 he came Acting Professor of Botany at Stanford University.

Hall was a painstaking investigator, and his work became the basis for a fresh approach to organic evolution. He had spent 1928 in Europe studying the national parks there, and his returned an enthusiastic proponent of a new model of ecological management, the wildlife preserve.

Page 46-47 of "A Yosemite Flora"
Page 46-47 of “A Yosemite Flora”

In 1910 Hall married Carlotta Case (1880-1949),  a 1905 graduate of the University of California and a collector of western ferns. They had one daughter, Martha Hall Niccolls (1913-1991).

Shortly after Hall’s death, the Harvey Monroe Hall Research Natural Area was established within Inyo National Forest, just north of Tioga Pass in Yosemite National Park. It was one of the first RNAs to be created.

Poem Delivered at the Dedication of the Pan-American Exposition

Cover of "Poem Delivered..."
Cover of “Poem Delivered…”

The Pan-American Exposition was originally scheduled for 1897 on Cayuga Island, New York, a few miles upstream from Niagara Falls. But the Spanish-American War intervened, and fair was eventually held in May-November 1901 in Buffalo, then the eighth-largest city in the United States.

Today, the Exposition is chiefly remembered as the site of President William McKinley’s assassination on 6 September 1901. But before that momentous event, one of the biggest novelties was electricity: the fair was lit by Nicola Tesla’s new three-phase alternating current, powered by Niagara Falls, twenty-five miles away.

Robert Cameron Rogers (1852-1912)
Robert Cameron Rogers (1862-1912)

Robert Cameron Rogers (7 Jan 1862-20 Apr 1912) was born in Buffalo, and graduated from Yale in 1883. His father, Sherman Skinner Rogers, was one of the most prominent lawyers in Buffalo, and Robert spent a year in his father’s firm before deciding that law was not for him. Instead, he turned to writing, and published books, poems and magazine articles. His 1898  poem “The Rosary” was set to music several times, most notably by Ethelbert Nevin, and sold very well as sheet music.

Rogers moved to Santa Barbara in 1898. In 1901 he purchased The Morning Press newspaper, which he molded into one of the most influential and best-edited papers in California.

Aerial view of the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo NY
Aerial view of the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo NY

At first glance, it is perhaps surprising the small San Francisco firm of Elder & Shepard should publish this volume, especially since New York City, the undisputed center of American publishing, was so close to the Exposition. This was probably due to Morgan Shepard’s Santa Barbara connections, perhaps his sister-in-law Katherine Putnam, author of Wayfarers in Italy.

The cover and title page feature a tomoye design, though the tomoye has no connection with the poem or the Exposition. The tomoye had only recently been chosen as a sort of “logo” by Elder & Shepard, and they were clearly trying hard to establish their brand.

Rogers died in Santa Barbara in 1912 from complications of an appendicitis operation.

Title page of "Poem Delivered..."
Title page of “Poem Delivered…”
Page 1 of "Poem Delivered..."
Page 1 of “Poem Delivered…”