Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Charis Wilson journal, letters, and notes documenting the Whitman trip with Edward Weston
View entire collection guide What's This?
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administration Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Charis Wilson journal, letters, and notes documenting the Whitman trip with Edward Weston
    Inclusive Dates: 1936-2009
    Bulk Dates: 1941-1942
    Collection Number: mssWilsonjournal
    Creator OR Collector: Wilson, Charis, 1914-2009
    Extent: 202 items in two boxes
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens Manuscripts Department
    The Huntington Library
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2203
    Fax: (626) 449-5720
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: The collection contains the journal, letters, and notes documenting the Whitman trip Charis Wilson took with photographer Edward Weston.
    Language of Material: The records are in English.

    Administration Information


    Collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, please go to following web site .

    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], Charis Wilson journal, letters, and notes documenting the Whitman trip with Edward Weston, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Acquisition Information

    The collection was purchased from Rachel Harris, Charis Wilson's daughter, by the Library Collector's Council in January 2003. Rachel Harris later gave more material in August 2014.


    Widely known as photographer Edward Weston’s model and muse, Charis Wilson (1914-2009) was also a writer. She was born in San Francisco in 1914. She met Weston in Carmel, California in 1934, and they started a romantic relationship shortly thereafter. In 1937 Weston received a Guggenheim Fellowship and he and Wilson spent the year traveling around California and the American West. While Weston made pictures, Wilson kept a detailed journal of their experiences. In 1939 they married, and, in 1940 California and the West. In 1941 Weston was asked to take photographs to illustrate a Limited Edition Club edition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. Weston and Wilson traveled the United States by automobile for two years to complete both the Guggenheim and the Whitman projects. They divorced in 1946 and Wilson married labor activist Noel Harris. Harris and she had two daughters before divorcing in 1967. Wilson’s memoir, Through Another Lens was published in 1999. She died in Santa Cruz, California in 2009.

    Scope and Content

    This small collection includes Charis Wilson’s typed journal for the eight-month trip she and Weston took during 1941 for the “Whitman” tour as well as supporting material including correspondence, the trip itinerary, notes, photographs, letters of introduction for Weston, newspaper clippings, brochures and miscellaneous ephemera, a negative list, and a list of illustrations for Leaves of Grass with Whitman quotations selected by Wilson. The journal typescript draft contains two black and white photographs.
    Also included is correspondence between Weston, Wilson, George Macy, and Merle Armitage regarding the Limited Editions Club project as well as letters Weston and Wilson received during the “Whitman” trip. Among the authors of letters of introduction for Weston are photographer and curator, Beaumont Newhall, and artist Charles Sheeler.
    The material was kept in the order in which it came to the Huntington Library. The original folders were also retained (if present).
    The Huntington Library also has Charis Wilson’s journal (typescript) from her and Edward Weston’s Guggenheim-funded trip throughout California and the West in 1937 to 1939, which resulted in the book California and the West. Call number: HM 51997

    Indexing Terms

    Personal Names

    Armitage, Merle, 1893-1975
    Macy, George
    Moe, Henry Allen, 1894-1975
    Newhall, Beaumont, 1908-1993
    Pearce, Charles A., 1906-1970
    Sheeler, Charles, 1883-1965
    Weston, Edward, 1886-1958
    Whitman, Walt, 1819-1892. Leaves of grass
    Wilson, Charis, 1914-2009

    Corporate Names

    Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery
    John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation
    Limited Editions Club


    Photographers -- United States


    Diaries -- United States -- 20th century
    Letters (correspondence) -- United States -- 20th century
    Notes -- United States -- 20th century
    Photographs -- United States -- 20th century
    Photographs -- United States -- 21st century