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Gulian Pickering Rixford papers
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Gulian Pickering Rixford contributed to and served the California Academy of Sciences in a variety of positions over the years - as a member, Recording Secretary, Director of the Academy Museum, and as Academy Librarian. His papers focus primarily on agriculture and include photographs, notebooks, diaries, articles, correspondence, and pamphlets.
G. P. Rixford was born on August 20, 1838 in East Highgate, Vermont. He received a civil engineering degree from McGill University of Montreal, Canada in 1864. Three years later his fortunes found him in the city of San Francisco. Upon moving to San Francisco, Mr. Rixford joined the editorial staff of the Evening Bulletin, a local newspaper. In 1876, he was promoted to business manager of the Bulletin, a position he would fill for thirteen years. During his years as business manager, Mr. Rixford saw an opportunity to increase readership by offering an incentive to readers. He would include, as premiums, “seeds and plants of rare and unusual sorts” that were not available anywhere else in the country (ex. Casaba melon and Telephone peas). In 1889, Mr. Rixford retired from the Bulletin, “to take things easy.” This he did for a few years, concentrating on agriculture on his “little farm” down in the Santa Clara Valley in Los Altos. Mr. Rixford had, however, become a member of the California Academy of Sciences in 1878, and six years into his retirement became the Recording Secretary of the Academy. Seven years after assuming the post of Secretary, he stepped down, retiring again at age 64. In 1908, Mr. Rixford, now age 70, once again left his retirement behind to go into government service with the United States Department of Agriculture. He served for twenty years as an expert in the Bureau of Plant Industry. Mr. Rixford was a key player in the introduction of Smyrna Figs (helping to develop agricultural techniques) and Pistachio nuts into California commercial agriculture. Mr. Rixford’s interest always had been in commercial agriculture, and at his “little farm” he was constantly developing new plants for commercial uses, many of which his advanced years would never allow him to see grow to fruition. He continued his relationship with the Academy for the rest of his life. From January 1913 until March 1914, Mr. Rixford was the Director of the Academy Museum, and he served as the Academy Librarian from December 1924 until his death. This “grand old man of agriculture," who kept his diary in Arabic script, was struck by a southbound Southern Pacific train outside Los Altos (he evidently did not hear it) on the morning of October 27, 1930. He died later that afternoon of shock and a concussion in a Palo Alto Hospital.
25 boxes, 6 cu.ft.
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