Exhibit highlighting Jack London on display at Sonoma State

January 29, 2020
 Library’s Special Collections Jack London
 Library’s Special Collections Jack London
 Library’s Special Collections Jack London
 Library’s Special Collections Jack London

(Rohnert Park) — The Sonoma State University Library is hosting an exhibit this spring highlighting the life, work and legacy of Jack London with displays from collections related to the author-adventurer.

The Library’s Special Collections department includes two unique collections of material about the writer and his wife, Charmian: the Waring Jones Collection and the Palmer Andrews Collection. Both collections are open for research by SSU students, the wider North Bay community and Jack London scholars worldwide.

Carl Bernatovech, an ardent admirer of Jack London, spent years amassing an extraordinary array of Jack London materials, including many of the author’s first editions, some signed by both Jack and Charmian London, as well as movie posters and film reels. When Bernatovech died, private collector Waring Jones bought Bernatovech’s collection and in 2001 donated it to Sonoma State University. Jones chose Sonoma State University’s Special Collections because he wanted students to experience the power of Jack London’s life and work firsthand.

In 2014, collector Palmer Andrews donated his extensive library of memorabilia and first editions of London’s books to Sonoma State University. A long-time admirer of the author, Andrews felt young people should be exposed to London’s social views, his writings and the extraordinary era in which he lived, including his connections to such figures as magician Harry Houdini and revolutionary socialist Emma Goldman. 

Jones and Andrews both selected Sonoma State University to house their collections because they felt undergraduates studying in such close proximity to Jack London’s chosen home would be the perfect audience to appreciate London’s life and work.

From now through March 20, “The Man and the Myth: Exploring Jack London Through the SSU Library Special Collections” will be on display in the Library Art Gallery. The exhibit features photographs, letters and memorabilia about Jack London’s life in Sonoma County and beyond and his extraordinary popularity across the globe. The displays reveal some surprising stories. For example, Jack London learned about farming techniques when he was a war correspondent in Korea in 1904, and he took this knowledge back to his Glen Ellen ranch. Visitors also will hear the story of London's wife Charmian, and how she and Jack's sister Eliza Shepard kept the writer's memory alive after his early death in 1916. "The Man and the Myth" celebrates one of Sonoma County's favorite sons, Jack London.

"The Library Art Committee is thrilled to have the opportunity to highlight the Sonoma State University Library Special Collections in this exhibit," said Mary Wegmann, chair of the Library Art Committee. "The primary source materials allow for an intimate glimpse into London’s life.”

Special Collections Librarian Lynn Prime adds, “We are so pleased to have a venue in which to share some of our unique collections, especially collections that reflect the extraordinary life of one of the most-read American authors.”

“It is exciting to see these extraordinary artifacts on display, and underscores the role our Special Collections play in the wider community,” said Karen Schneider, dean of the library. 

The public, as well as faculty, staff and students, are invited to attend a reception on Wednesday, Feb. 5 in the Library Art Gallery from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Wine and light refreshments will be served. Email library@sonoma.edu to RSVP and for a parking pass for the reception. This exhibit is curated by the Art Committee of the Sonoma State University Library and is funded by the Jean and Charles Schulz endowment. For more information, please contact Bonnie Cormier at library@sonoma.edu.

ABOUT US: With a student population of 9,200, Sonoma State is a regionally serving public university committed to educational access and excellence. Guided by our core values and driven by a commitment to the liberal arts and sciences, Sonoma State delivers high-quality education through innovative programs that leverage the economic, cultural and natural resources of the North Bay. See more news from SSU at http://news.sonoma.edu/

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