Photograph Album from Charles F. Lummis to Susanita Del Valle: Finding Aid

Finding aid prepared by Diann Benti, Michelle Sanchez and Jennifer Watts.
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
Photo Archives
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2191
Email: reference@huntington.org
URL: http://www.huntington.org
© April 2013
The Huntington Library. All rights reserved.


Descriptive Summary

Title: Photograph Album from Charles F. Lummis to Susanita Del Valle
Dates (inclusive): 1888
Collection Number: photCL 504
Creator: Lummis, Charles Fletcher, 1859-1928
Extent: 83 cyanotype photographs in 1 album; album 13 x 21.5 cm. (5.25 x 8.5 in.)
Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Photo Archives
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2191
Email: reference@huntington.org
URL: http://www.huntington.org
Abstract: An album of 83 cyanotype photographs by American journalist, author, and ethnologist Charles F. Lummis given as a gift from Lummis to Susanita Del Valle in 1888. (Susanita was a nickname for Susana Carmen Del Valle (1871-1907)). The majority of photographs depict Rancho Camulos in Ventura County, California, as well as members of the Del Valle family, who owned the rancho. Lummis included several self-portraits as well as scenes that invoke a romantic view of 19th century California ranch life. In addition, there are two original poems inscribed by Lummis to Susanita Del Valle.
Language of Material: English

Administration 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

Photograph Album from Charles F. Lummis to Susanita Del Valle. The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

Provenance

Purchased from the heirs of the Del Valle family in 2011 with funds provided by the Studier family in memory of Carol Jackson Cook and Donald Wrentmore Cook.

Access

Due to the fragility of the album, access to the original item is granted only by advance permission of the Curator of Photographs. Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

Historical Note

In 1884, Charles Fletcher Lummis (1859-1928) walked from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Los Angeles, California, in a public relations gambit to announce his new job as city editor of the Los Angeles Times. The provocative New Englander went on to become an outspoken and influential promoter of California and the American Southwest. Lummis wore many hats during his illustrious forty-year career: incendiary journalist; editor of Out West magazine; Los Angeles city librarian; presidential advisor; patron of artists and writers; and cultural preservationist. In addition, Lummis was a talented photographer, producing thousands of photographs between 1885 and 1920. Lummis started making photographs in 1885, soon after his arrival in Los Angeles. He favored the cyanotype process which was popular among amateur photographers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The cyanotype, notable for its blue tone, is made by bringing sensitized paper into contact with a negative in direct sunlight. The print is then washed in a solution of distilled water.
The album, Views of Camulos, which Lummis gave to Susanita Del Valle, is one of the earliest and most comprehensive albums produced by Lummis. In American Character: The Curious Life of Charles Fletcher Lummis and the Rediscovery of the Southwest (Arcade Publishing, 2001), the author explores Lummis’s relationship with the Del Valle family that led to the creation of the gift album, noting that “Lummis had paid his first visit to Camulos soon after reaching Los Angeles and had fallen in love with the place. The Del Valles became lifelong friends” (Thompson, 123). The album makes clear Lummis’s infatuation with life at Rancho Camulos in its many photographs of the landscape, daily activities, and the Del Valle family. An inveterate womanizer, the married Lummis developed a romantic attraction to the sixteen-year-old Susana Carmen Del Valle (1871-1907), the daughter of Susana Avila and Juventino Del Valle (1841-1919). Between 1887 and 1888, Lummis wrote numerous letters to Susanita which discussed, among other things, his plans for a divorce that would enable him to marry her. Apart from his interest in Susanita, Lummis may also have seen commercial potential for his Rancho Camulos photographs. Helen Hunt Jackson visited Camulos in 1882 and including observations about ranch life in her bestselling-novel Ramona (1884). Lummis’s publication of Home of Ramona: Photographs of Camulos, the Fine Old Spanish Estate Described by Mrs. Helen Hunt Jackson as the Home of “Ramona” (1888) was the first publication to link Rancho Camulos to the Helen Hunt Jackson novel. The gift album provides a unique and expanded set of photographs that Lummis used to champion Camulos as the original home of the fictional character Ramona.
Sources used in the creation of this finding aid include: Autry National Center. “Braun Research Library.” Accessed February 2013. http://theautry.org/research/braun-research-library Dawson, Michael. Appraisal Report Prepared by Michael Dawson for The Huntington Library, July 2011. Thompson, Mark. American Character: The Curious Life of Charles Fletcher Lummis and the Rediscovery of the Southwest. New York: Arcade Publishing, 2001.

Scope and Content of Collection

The photograph album chronicles Charles F. Lummis’s time with the Del Valle family at Rancho Camulos in Ventura County, California, from 1887 to 1888. There are many photographs of the Del Valle family, particularly the Del Valle daughters, with whom Lummis is shown playfully interacting. Family gatherings include a local Catholic priest, couples dancing, and young women playing instruments. Views of Rancho Camulos, the surrounding landscape, and architectural features such as the placita, the chapel, and the south veranda, are also prominently featured.
The front cover of the photograph album bears the embossed title of “Susanita Del Valle,” while the spine’s title says, “Views of Camulos.” An inscription on the third page reads: “Susanita Del Valle, with the best wishes of Chas. F. Lummis—Feb. 3, 1888.” Some of the pictures appear in The Home of Ramona: Photographs of Camulos, the Fine Old Spanish Estate Described by Mrs. Helen Hunt Jackson, as the Home of "Ramona," by Charles F. Lummis, published in Los Angeles in 1888. The Huntington Library holds a copy of this book (RB 35644) as well as a second edition (RB 252770). Both copies are illustrated with original cyanotypes by Lummis, many of which are in The Home of Ramona.

Related materials in the Huntington Library

Alternative Form of Materials Available

Visit the Huntington Digital Library: Photographs   to view the digitized album.

Indexing Terms

Subjects

Coronel, Antonio Franco -- Photographs.
Del Valle, Reginaldo F. (Reginaldo Francisco), 1854-1938 -- Photographs.
Lummis, Charles Fletcher, 1859-1928 -- Photographs.
Adobe houses -- California -- Ventura County -- Photographs.
Dance -- California -- 1880-1890 -- Photographs.
Indians of North America -- Fiction -- Photographs.
Ranches -- California -- 1880-1890 -- Photographs.
Rancho Camulos (Ventura County, Calif.) -- Photographs.
Del Valle family -- Photographs.
Ventura County (Calif.) -- Photographs.

Forms/Genres

Cyanotypes.
Photograph albums.
Photographs.
Self-portraits.


Collection Contents

 

Photograph Album

Item  1

[Image of veranda]

Item  2

[Del Valle family portrait]

Five members of the Del Valle family seated on a bench. There is an older woman, Ysabel Valera Del Valle, three boys, and a man, Reginaldo Del Valle (son of Ysabel).
Item  3

[Portrait of Nena and Susanita Del Valle]

Two girls at fountain: (1) Nena Del Valle (with guitar), and (2) Susanita Del Valle.
Item  4

[Image of Camulos and ranch, from the north]

Item  5

[Image of Camulos]

View of side of house, picket fence, and foggy hills.
Item  6a

[Ysabel and Nena Del Valle]

Item  6b

[A veranda at Camulos]

Item  7

[Chapel]

Item  8

The south veranda.

Item  9

The placita, looking north.

Item  10a

Cross on the north hill.

Item  10b

The south veranda.

Item  11

The placita.

Item  12

The placita, looking north.

Item  13a

[The chapel]

Item  13b

[A view of the south veranda]

Item  14

In the placita.

Item  15

[Nena Del Valle, Susanita Del Valle, Ysabel Del Valle, Natalia Del Valle, Enedina Del Valle, and Priest]

Item  16

[Bedroom at Camulos]

Item  17

[Interior of the chapel at Camulos]

Item  18

[Image of the corner of the house]

Item  19

[View of an orchard]

Item  20

[Nativity scene]

Item  21

[Image of the pool in the placita]

Item  22

[View of the pool and trees in the placita]

Item  23a

[View of the chapel porch]

Item  23b

[The south veranda]

Item  24

[Image of embroidered lace]

Item  25

[View of a barnyard]

Item  26

[View of the hills near Camulos]

Item  27

[Image of a fountain]

Item  28

[Image of Camulos]

Lane bordered by picket fence.
Item  29

[Landscape]

Item  30

[People at a fence]

Item  31

[Man on horseback, south veranda]

Item  32

[Three bells in a frame]

Item  33

[Workers sorting nuts]

Item  34a

[A man standing on a porch]

Item  34b

[The placita]

Item  35

[Arbor]

Item  36a

[The cross on north hill]

Item  36b

The bells.

Item  37

[Portrait of Nena Del Valle, Ysabel Del Valle, Susanita Del Valle, and Charles Lummis]

Item  38

[View from arbor]

Item  39

[Man sitting in an orchard]

Item  40

[Olive mill]

Item  41

[View of orchard]

Item  42

[Charles Lummis dancing with Susanita Del Valle]

Item  43

[Christmas tree]

Item  44

The chapel.

Item  45

[Hillside]

Item  46

[Image a cloth with embroidered lace edging]

Item  47

[Portrait of Alice Bowers, Enedina Del Valle, Natalia Del Valle, and eight children]

Item  48

[Nena Del Valle with a guitar]

Item  49

[Seven women playing instruments]

Group of women and girls playing instruments: (1) Rosa Del Valle (2) Nena Del Valle (3) Ysabel Del Valle (4) Josepha Del Valle (5) Woman with horn (6) Alice Bowers (7) Enedina Del Valle.
Item  50

[Don Antonio Coronel and a woman dancing]

Item  51

[Six women playing instruments]

Group of women and girls playing instruments; all of the women, except the one on the far right are numbered: (1) Ysabel Del Valle, (2) is Nena Del Valle, (4) is Josepha Del Valle, (5) is Alice Bowers. The unnumbered girl is Enedina Del Valle.
Item  52

[Portrait of Ysabel Del Valle with a guitar]

Writing on back of (52): “That fools in-rush / Where angels blush / To tread, is melancholy; / But where—as here— / They both appear, / How happy is the folly! / The artist might / In such a plight, / Be pardoned for forgetting That ne’er was shown / So dull a stone / In such a brilliant setting!” --handwritten by Charles Lummis.
Item  53

[Charles Lummis with four of the Del Valle girls]

Self portrait of Charles Lummis sitting in a chair with four young women of the Del Valle family around him: (1) Del Valle family member (2) Rimpau family member (3) Del Valle family member (4) Charles Lummis pulling the wire to take the photo (5) Possibly Susanita Del Valle.
Item  54

[Dancing on the veranda]

Men, women, children dancing; couple at far left is Charles Lummis and Susanita Del Valle.
Item  55

[Charles Lummis dancing with Susanita Del Valle]

Item  56

[Don Antonio Coronel and a woman dancing]

Item  57

[Dancing on the veranda]

Men, women, children dancing; couple at far left is Charles Lummis and Susanita Del Valle.
Item  58

[Priest with Susanita, Nena, and Ysabel Del Valle]

Item  59

[View at Camulos looking toward the arbor]

Item  60

[Group portrait on veranda]

Men, women and children on a bench including: (1) Enedina Del Valle (2) Susanita Del Valle (3) Charles Lummis (4) Smiling woman, possibly Nena Del Valle (5) Natalia (Nachita) Del Valle (6) Priest.
Item  61

[Don Antonio Coronel and Felicidad Abadie dancing]

Item  62a

[Ysabel and Nena Del Valle seated on steps, one holding a guitar]

Item  62b

[Nena Del Valle seated in a doorway with a guitar]

Item  63

[Charles Lummis dancing with Susanita Del Valle]

Item  64

[Charles Lummis dancing with Susanita Del Valle]

Item  65

[Eight women kneeling]

On back of (65): “A Santa Susanita” O Santa Susanita, / With solemn upward eyes, / And lips like those of some soft rose, / What seek you in the skies? / It cannot be to ponder / The stars that shine so clear; / For far less bright the eyes of the night / Than those which watch them here. / It cannot be to envy / The souls in that far land, / For heaven’s complete about your feet— / Camulos where you stand. / I guess the farther angels, / Beyond yon starry height, / Just bade you out to say devout And sisterly good-night!” --handwritten and signed by Charles Lummis.
Item  66

[Enedina, Susanita, and Natalia Del Valle]

Item  67

[Dinner under the arbor]

An image of a large group seated around a cloth-covered table set out under the grape arbor at Camulos. Josefa Del Valle is seated at left and is wearing a hat. Reginaldo Del Valle is seated on the right.
Item  68

[Portrait of four women]

(1) Unidentified girl (2) Ysabel Del Valle (3) Unidentified girl (4) Possibly a Rimsau family member
Item  69

[Chumash man with a shovel]

Item  70a

[A painting in an oval frame]

Photograph of an oval-shaped painting in a frame depicting a young woman; she may possibly be Isobel Del Valle.
Item  70b

[A nun in a doorway]

Item  71

[A portrait of three women]

Item  72

[A portrait of two women]

Item  73

[A group portrait of nine women]

Item  74

[Still life of del Valle heirlooms]

Item  75

[Photograph of two paintings]

Right portrait may be Don Antonio Sarafino Del Valle.