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Van Wormer (Clara) Diary
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Biography
  • Scope and Contents
  • Access
  • Processing Information
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Preferred Citation
  • Publication Rights

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: University of California, Davis Library, Dept. of Special Collections
    Title: Clara Van Wormer Diary
    Creator: Van Wormer, Clara G.
    Identifier/Call Number: MC316
    Physical Description: 1 volume [43] pages in a ruled notebook, plus two small photographs. 12mo. Limp black textured split-grain leather, a.e.g.
    Date (inclusive): circa 1907-1915
    Abstract: Diary of Clara G. Van Wormer, a Northern California woman who worked for famed horticulturalist Luther Burbank in the early 20th century, and who records a trip to the Pacific Northwest.
    Physical Location: Researchers should contact Archives and Special Collections to request collections, as many are stored offsite.


    Clara G. Van Wormer (1889-1983) was born in West Salem, Wisconsin. Her father, Clement Van Wormer, was an attorney and real estate agent, and around 1902 the family moved to Santa Rosa, California. The Van Wormers knew horticulturalist Luther Burbank, and Clement introduced his daughter to him.

    Scope and Contents

    Diary of Clara G. Van Wormer, a Northern California woman who worked for famed horticulturalist Luther Burbank in the early 20th century, and who records a trip to the Pacific Northwest. Clara begins her diary by noting her first visits to San Francisco (starting March 17, 1907), and then includes a brief self-chronology: "Graduated from High School Christmas 1909. Got diploma Business College, June 1910. Began working for Mr. Burbank on October 24, 1910. Pauline worked there until October 8, 1911. Then I took her place." Pauline Olsen was secretary to Luther Burbank until 1908; she returned later as bookkeeper, and until 1911 she was in charge of Burbank's Information Bureau at his private research center in Santa Rosa. Then follows an account of an extended trip to Washington state with her sister, Charlotte, to visit friends and family. Starting on June 23, 1909, they take a sleeper car, which "is heaps better than traveling tourist. Had a great time climbing up into our upper berth." After about ten days in Everett, they headed to Seattle, where their first stop was the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, and then lunch "at a Japanese Tea House." They also visit Snohomish, Reiter, and Startup. On August 3 they head back to Seattle, visiting the Exposition again and then several battleships docked there. Then they begin their trip back home, finally reaching Santa Rosa again on August 10. Back in Santa Rosa, Clara and Charlotte go to school and pal around with their cousin [?] Joe. In an amusing entry, Joe, Clara, and Charlotte attempt to try on each other's clothes – it works well for the girls, but Joe can't fit into anything. They took several photos of the afternoon (Clara developed the photos), and one is laid in at the beginning of the diary (the other photo features Clara and her sister, Josephine). After a few remarks about the classes she's taking that fall, the diary abruptly ends. The bulk of the narrative covers the period of the summer of 1909. The last page has a short chronology of events from 1912 to 1915, beginning with a few camping trips, then her engagement, marriage, and honeymoon, and finally a trip to the Panama Pacific International Exposition.
    [Description provided by William Reese]


    Collection is open for research.

    Processing Information

    Liz Phillips created this finding aid with information supplied by William Reese.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Purchased from William Reese, 2021.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Clara Van Wormer Diary, MC316 Archives and Special Collections, UC Davis Library, University of California, Davis.

    Publication Rights

    All applicable copyrights for the collection are protected under chapter 17 of the U.S. Copyright Code. Requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Regents of the University of California as the owner of the physical items. It is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Women -- California -- History
    Sonoma County (Calif.) -- History
    Washington (State), Eastern -- Travel
    Van Wormer, Clara G. -- Archives
    Michael and Margaret B. Harrison Western Research Center