The story of this collection begins with its creator, Carl J. Bernatovech, who was born in Buffalo, New York on September
8, 1943. Shortly after returning from the Vietnam War, Mr. Bernatovech read The Call of the Wild. He became enthralled with
the writings and life of Jack London and began collecting material both by and about him. Mr. Bernatovech, in addition to
his vocation as a heavy machine operator, was a longtime member of the Jack London Foundation. He often traveled from his
home in Pennsylvania to Glen Ellen for the annual Jack London Birthday Dinner. Despite health problems later in life, he continued
to attend book fairs and to meet with other collectors. Due to his intense interest in Jack London and his dedication as a
collector, Mr. Bernatovech amassed one of the finest private collections of Jack London material.
Sometime after Carl J. Bernatovech’s death on Aug. 12, 1997, Waring Jones, a longtime Jack London fan and an acquaintance
of Mr. Bernatovech, contacted his family to find out if the collection was available for purchase. Discovering that it was
indeed available, Mr. Jones set out to find a home for the collection, and decided to donate it, along with collected materials
of his own, to the Sonoma State University library. Factors leading to his decision included the proximity of the university
to Jack London’s Beauty Ranch in Glen Ellen (now the Jack London State Historical Park), and his desire that the materials
be available not only to Jack London scholars, but to undergraduate students and the general public.
Mr. Jones’ generosity did not end with the donation of the Jack London Collection. He also donated funds to aid in the preservation
and organization of the materials and to build the Waring Jones Reading Room, a space designed to house the works of Jack
London and other regional authors.
The collection arrived at the Sonoma State University Library in the spring of 2000 in fifty boxes. In 2001, the library moved
from its former location in Salazar Hall to the campus’ new Jean and Charles Schulz Information Center, where the collection
was inventoried, cataloged and installed. The official dedication and opening of the Waring Jones Reading Room was on December
6, 2001. Since then, the collection has expanded with additional donations from other Jack London enthusiasts.
Jack London (born Jan. 12, 1876, died Nov. 22, 1916) is best known for his books The Call of the Wild, White Fang, and The
Sea-Wolf, and a few short stories, such as "To Build a Fire" and "The White Silence." In fact, he was a prolific writer whose
fiction explored several regions and their cultures: the Yukon, California, Hawaii, and the Solomon Islands. He experimented
with many literary forms, from conventional love stories and dystopias to science fantasy. His noted journalism included war
correspondence, boxing stories, and the life of Molokai lepers. A committed socialist, he insisted against editorial pressures
to write political essays and insert social criticism in his fiction.
He was among the most influential figures of his day, who understood how to create a public persona and use the media to market
his self-created image of poor-boy-turned-success. London's great passion was agriculture, and he was well on the way of creating
a new model for ranching through his Beauty Ranch when he died of kidney disease at age 40. He left over fifty books of novels,
stories, journalism, and essays, many of which have been translated and continue to be read around the world.
100 linear feet; 15 flat file drawers; 15 card file drawers.
The library can only claim physical ownership of the collection. Users are responsible for satisfying any claimants of literary
Collection is open for research by appointment.