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Jennie Cook Davis Papers: Finding Aid
mssDavis papers  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: Jennie Cook Davis Papers
    Dates (inclusive): 1885-1992
    Bulk dates: 1917-1942
    Collection Number: mssDavis papers
    Creator: Davis, Jennie Cook, 1851-1946.
    Extent: 356 items in 3 boxes + 3 oversize folders
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2129
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: This collection contains the papers of California writer Jennie C. Davis (1851-1946), chiefly dating from 1917 to 1942 and including manuscripts of her work, a draft of her autobiography, and correspondence, chiefly from Davis to her eldest daughter, as well as letters from literary figures, journalists, and artists. Subjects in collection include: Acorn Lodge in Wrightwood, Calif.; Cajon Pass, Calif.; Devore, Calif.; Jack and Charmian London; Lute Pease; George Sterling; American newspapers in Wisconsin; Railroad Employees in the United States; Reporters and reporting in the United States; Temperance Poetry; and World War I.
    Language: English.


    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. Jennie Cook Davis Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    Gift of Donald R. McDowell, June 1996.

    Biographical Note

    Emma Jane Cook Davis (aka Jennie C. Davis, aka J.C. Davis, aka Mrs. Herbert Benton Davis) was born on October 17, 1851, in White Pigeon, Michigan. Davis lived in various locations growing up. At the age of four, her family moved to Iowa. When she was fourteen, they moved to Indiana. After her father died in 1870, Davis inherited a small amount of money. She obtained permission from her mother to use this money to travel to New York City and attend Cooper’s Union Art Institute in 1873 on the condition that she marry. She and Herbert Benton Davis married in September of that year and Davis moved with him to New York. However, after a short attendance at the institute, family obligations called the couple home.
    The couple lived in Indiana from 1874 to 1877, where their first two daughters were born. Winifred Lawrence was born on October 30, 1875, and sometime in 1876 a second daughter was born, Jessie, but she died on August 1, 1877. The Davises moved to Michigan after Herbert Davis secured a job with the railroad as a relief agent. Jennie Davis earned extra money throughout the 1870s, 1880s, and 1890s as a reporter and sketch artist for various newspapers and companies in Milwaukee and Chicago. In 1879 their last child, Edith, was born. They lived in Chicago for about a year and then lived in Wisconsin from 1881 to 1887.
    In 1886, Herbert Davis bought land in Riverside and the family moved to California in 1887. Unfortunately, they encountered extreme financial difficulty and had to move back to Wisconsin the following year. Davis leased the property in 1890 and the Davises settled in Milwaukee for the next four years.
    The Davises tried California again in 1894 and found better success in their second attempt. Herbert Davis was able to find work with the Santa Fe railroad and Jennie Davis contributed to the income through her newspaper work. Between 1894 and 1908, Herbert Davis was employed at various train stations: Los Angeles; Inglewood; Highland; Burcham in 1898 where Jennie was the postmaster; Summit; and Elsinore. Their final station was at Devore, where Herbert was station agent and Jennie was the postmaster until his retirement in 1928.
    After his retirement, the Davises moved to Long Beach, California. They lived there until Herbert died in 1939. Jennie sold the home in Long Beach and moved to Devore. In 1941, she moved to San Bernardino and lived in a flat owned by Goodwill Industries. She died in 1946.
    Jennie C. Davis contributed to various local southern California newspapers and journals including The Los Angeles Times, The Land of Sunshine, Out West, San Bernardino Sun, and Santa Fe Magazine. Her work was praised by Jack London, Charles F. Lummis, Maynard Dixon, Harry Chandler, John Burroughs, Eugene Field, George Francis Train, and John Steven McGroarty.

    Scope and Content

    The collection contains 60 manuscripts, three of which are oversized. Most of the manuscripts are poems written by Jennie Cook Davis. Most of these poems were written for publication and were inspired by everyday occurrences or newsworthy people. The collection also contains a draft of Davis’s autobiography and a copy of a biography written by Karen Neset Smith in 1995. The collection contains 130 pieces of correspondence, two of which are oversized. The letters mainly consist of originals and copies of letters from Jennie Cook Davis to her eldest daughter, Winifred Davis McDowell in the later years of her life. Notable letters include four from Jack London discussing literary matters including brief mention of Martin Eden and from Charmian London regarding Jack London’s death. There are also five letters from Charles Fletcher Lummis and one from his wife Eve. Other artists local to Southern California wrote to Jennie Cook Davis including John Burroughs, Maynard Dixon and John Steven McGroarty. The ephemera collection consists of a few pieces that relate to Jennie Cook Davis’s life and many examples of her sketches. Also, her scrapbook contains more samples of her poetry and newspaper articles. The file labeled “Ephemera: Miscellaneous” consists of: a 1887 Official List Officers, Agents, and Stations for the Wisconsin Central Line; four brochures for Devore, Calif. [1915]; and a Camp Cajon “Souvinir Program” dated July 4, 1919. The photographs of Jack and Charmian London are pictures taken of watercolor reproductions made by Donald McDowell in the 1980s and 1990s. The collection does not contain actual photographs of Jack or Charmian London. In all, the ephemera totals 166 pieces.
    Other participants include: Carl Ethan Akeley, Mary L. Jobe Akeley, Lou Westcott Beck, R. D. Blackmore, William Bristol, Eve Lummis, Harry Chandler, Schuyler Colfax, Eugene Field, William Hard, Ludwig Katterfield, Alfred Payne, Allan Pinkerton, Eddie Rickenbacker and George Francis Train.
    Subjects in collection include: Acorn Lodge in Wrightwood, Calif.; Cajon Pass, Calif.; Devore, Calif.; Jack and Charmian London; Lute Pease; George Sterling; American newspapers in Wisconsin; Railroad employees in the United States; Reporters and reporting in the United States; Temperance poetry; and World War I.


    Arranged by item type and then alphabetically by author.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  


    Davis, Jennie Cook, 1851-1946.
    London, Jack, 1876-1916.
    Pease, Lute, 1869-1963.
    Sterling, George, 1869-1926.
    American newspapers -- Wisconsin -- Milwaukee.
    Railroads -- Employees -- United States.
    Reporters and reporting -- United States.
    Temperance -- Poetry.
    Women poets, American -- California -- 19th century -- Archives.
    Women poets, American -- California -- 20th century -- Archives.
    World War, 1914-1918.
    Acorn Lodge (Wrightwood, Calif.)
    Cajon Pass (Calif.)
    Devore (Calif.)
    Fort Atkinson (Iowa) -- History.
    Riverside (Calif.)
    San Bernardino County (Calif.)
    White Pigeon (Mich.)


    Ephemera -- United States.
    Letters (correspondence) -- United States.
    Manuscripts -- United States.
    Poems -- United States.
    Scrapbooks -- United States .

    Additional Contributors

    Akeley, Carl Ethan, 1864-1926.
    Beck, Lou Westcott.
    Blackmore, R. D. (Richard Doddridge), 1825-1900.
    Bristol, William Marion, 1859-1941.
    Burroughs, John, 1837-1921.
    Chandler, Harry, 1864-1944.
    Colfax, Schuyler, 1823-1885.
    Dixon, Maynard, 1875-1946.
    Field, Eugene, 1850-1895.
    Hard, William, 1878-1962.
    Katterfeld, Ludwig E., b. 1880.
    London, Charmian.
    London, Jack, 1876-1916.
    Lummis, Charles Fletcher, 1859-1928.
    McGroarty, John Steven, 1862-1944.
    Payne, Alfred, d. 1893.
    Pinkerton, Allan, 1819-1884.
    Rickenbacker, Eddie, 1890-1973.
    Train, George Francis, 1829-1904.