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Dana and Ginger Lamb Papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Dana and Ginger Lamb Papers
    Dates: 1824-2004
    Collection Number: 2008_03
    Creator/Collector: Lamb, Dana Lamb, Ginger
    Extent: 118 document boxes.

    10 flat boxes.

    7 cartons.

    2 oversize flat file drawers.

    41 oversize bound volumes.

    312 reels of film.

    19 oversize rolled items.

    Repository: Sherman Library & Gardens
    Corona del Mar, California 92625
    Abstract: The collection consists of the personal papers of the adventurers and explorers Dana and Ginger Lamb. The collection contains an extensive amount of material which meticulously documents their travels, personal lives, and family history.
    Language of Material: English


    Collection is open for research.

    Preferred Citation

    Dana and Ginger Lamb Papers. Sherman Library & Gardens

    Acquisition Information

    The collection was donated to the Sherman Library by Maria Fellin Lamb in 2006 and 2007. The DVD copies of the films, Flying to Baja and Quest for the Lost City , were donated by Jerry Klinkowitz and Julie Huffman-klinkowitz in 2008 and 2009.

    Biographical Note

    Dana Upton Lamb was born in Tustin, California, on January 18, 1901 to John Charles Lamb and Emma Mary Holderman Lamb. J. C. Lamb served as the Orange County Tax Collector for thirty-three years and also raised groves of oranges, lemons and avocados. A 1923 graduate of Santa Ana High School, Dana joined the crews of the steamer W. M. Irish and the S. S. Carenco , traveling to the Eastern United States and Morocco, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Cyprus and Syria in 1924-1925. Active in the Boy Scouts at an early age, Dana Lamb served as field executive for the Orange County Council and as assistant scout executive, Greater Providence Council, Rhode Island, from 1926-1927. He also served as chief of the Laguna Beach lifeguard service, which likely provided him with the training and expertise to begin the Orange County Coast Patrol in the late 1930s.
    Virginia Marshall Bishop (later Ginger Lamb) was born in Santa Ana, CA, to watchmaker-optometrist Vernon M. Bishop and Nancy Cutler Bishop on September 22, 1912. The family moved to El Centro, California, shortly following Ginger’s birth but returned to Santa Ana sometime around 1921. She graduated from Santa Ana High School in 1930.
    Dana and Ginger married February 19, 1933. In August, they embarked on what became a three year, 16,000 mile voyage in their homemade, sixteen-foot canoe, the Vagabunda, from Southern California down the Pacific coasts of Mexico, Guatemala, and Costa Rica, and culminated in their crossing of the Panama Canal in September 1936. They chronicled their adventures in a book, Enchanted Vagabonds (1938), and went on the lecture circuit to capitalize on the great public interest in their journey and lives as adventurers. They continued their travels in Mexico and Central America during the 1940s, during which time they did some research for the Federal Government as special agents and produced a substantial report titled Report on Mexico in 1943. Their second book, Quest for the Lost City (1951), detailed their continued adventures in the 1940s and was the basis for a feature length film of the same name produced by Sol Lesser in 1954.
    Having made the seaside village of Corona del Mar their home base during their years of adventure travel, the growing population explosion in Orange County in the postwar era prompted the Lambs to move to the former mining town of Hillsboro, in the southwestern mountains of New Mexico, in 1962. The Lambs continued to camp and explore Baja California and deliver the occasional lecture, until Ginger Lamb passed away on February 25, 1967. The ensuing years for Dana Lamb were not idle, as he had to deal with the ramifications of a disastrous flood in Hillsboro in September 1972 and traveled to Micronesia in 1975-1976 before his death on June 11, 1979.
    1/18/1901 Dana Upton Lamb born in Tustin, CA, to John Charles Lamb and Emma Holderman Lamb
    9/22/1912 Virginia Marshall Bishop born in Santa Ana, CA, to Vernon M. Bishop and Nan Cutler Bishop
    1926-1927 Dana Lamb serves as assistant scout executive, Greater Providence Council, Rhode Island
    12/18/1929 Dana Lamb marries Ethel Catherine Stuart, Yuma Co., AZ
    8/20/1931 Separation of Dana Lamb and Ethel Catherine Stuart Lamb
    2/10/1933 Divorce of Dana Lamb and Ethel Catherine Stuart Lamb
    2/19/1933 Dana Lamb and Virginia "Ginger" Marshall Bishop marry
    8/1933 Voyage of the Vagabunda begins
    9/1936 End of the voyage of the Vagabunda
    1938 Harper & Brothers publishes Enchanted Vagabonds
    1940 Dana and Ginger Lamb begin their Quest
    1951 Harper & Brothers publishes Quest for the Lost City
    12/1954 Sol Lesser’s production of Quest for the Lost City previews
    1961 Dana Lamb travels on Amazon River with Romain Wilhelmsen and Herman Jesson
    1962 Dana and Ginger Lamb move to Hillsboro, NM
    2/25/1967 Ginger Lamb dies
    4/14/1972 Dana Lamb marries Becky Taylor
    9/2/1972 Hillsboro, NM experiences devastating flood
    1972 Divorce of Dana Lamb and Becky Taylor Lamb
    1975 Dana Lamb meets Maria Fellin
    1975-1976 Micronesia trip
    6/11/1979 Dana Lamb dies

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The collection consists of the personal papers of the adventurers and explorers Dana and Ginger Lamb. The collection contains an extensive amount of material which meticulously documents their travels, personal lives, and family history in the form of diaries, manuscripts, correspondence, financial records, legal documents, maps, photographs and photographic negatives, ephemera and clipping files, and motion picture films.
    Of particular note in the collection are the many diaries kept by both Dana and Ginger Lamb, which document not only their various travels and activities at home but also record financial transactions, addresses, and were frequently summarized on an annual basis. The earliest of these begins with Dana Lamb’s 1924-1925 travels about the W. M. Irish and the S. S. Carenco , to the Eastern United States and Morocco, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Cyprus and Syria and ends with the final diary he was keeping at the time of his death in 1979. Ginger Lamb’s diaries are fewer in number, mostly covering travels during the 1930s through the early 1950s.
    The collection also contains manuscripts for several of the Lambs’ published works, including drafts of Enchanted Vagabonds and Quest for the Lost City. Their 1943 Report on Mexico is also represented in the collection, including an earlier draft, and various short stories and articles (both published and unpublished) are also in the collection. An extensive amount of correspondence, the bulk of which is from the 1930s through the early 1970s, documents the Lambs’ activities, appointments, and friendships as well as their activities on the lecture circuit, with film industry executives, and with other adventurers. Correspondents of note in the collection include: President and Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Nicaraguan President Anastasio Somoza, J. Edgar Hoover, and Sol Lesser.
    Also included in the collection is an extensive amount of photographs (both black and white and color), negatives, and slides. The Lambs took a large amount of photos while traveling, and while many of them are not individually labeled, some photos and negatives were individually numbered and/or labeled by the Lambs, and their identification systems were maintained whenever possible. A large selection of photographs was arranged in several oversize scrapbooks. Along with the still pictures, the collection also contains 256 reels of 16mm motion picture film taken by the Lambs, much of which was filmed from the 1950s to the 1970s.
    Other materials in the collection include family papers and photographs, financial records, land records, and contracts. There are also items related to Dana Lamb’s involvement in the Boy Scouts, materials related to aviation, drawings, an extensive array of maps, and items related to the Adventurers’ Club in Los Angeles, California. There are also various printed editions of Enchanted Vagabonds and Quest for the Lost City in a myriad of languages, including Japanese, Spanish and Dutch. The collection also contains materials (correspondence, publicity, and artwork, for example) related to the creation of the 1954 film adaptation of their book, Quest for the Lost City, by Hollywood producer Sol Lesser.
    The collection also contains a large amount of artifacts, including the oars of the Vagabunda, Dana and Ginger Lamb’s pith helmets and machetes, a blow gun, and various treasures collected during their journeys.
    The collection is in fairly good, stable condition; the exceptions are various documents, photographs and other papers which were affected by water and mud from the 1972 flood in Hillsboro, New Mexico. Many of these have been cleaned or dusted, but some trace evidence of mud and water damage remains.


    1. Manuscripts (Boxes 1-19)
    2. Diaries (Boxes 20-24)
    3. Correspondence (Boxes 25-51)
    4. Family Papers (Boxes 52-55)
    5. Legal Records (Box 56)
    6. Address Books (Box 57)
    7. Financial Records (Boxes 58-60)
    8. Land Papers (Box 60)
    9. Lists and Notes (Box 61)
    10. Lectures and Publicity (Boxes 61-62)
    11. Organizations (Boxes 63-64)
    12. Subject Files (Boxes 65-67)
    13. Television (Box 68)
    14. Film (Boxes 69-73)
    15. Publications (Boxes 74-88, 147 titles)
    16. Visual Materials (Boxes 89-118, 296 reels)
    17. Audio Materials (Boxes 119-122)
    18. Oversize Materials (Box 123, 2 drawers, 41 volumes)

    Indexing Terms

    Vagabunda (ship).
    Adventure and adventurers – United States – Archival resources.
    Lecturers – United States – Archival resources.
    Motion picture producers and directors – United States.
    Baja California (Mexico: Peninsula) – Photographs.
    Baja California (Mexico: Peninsula) – Description and travel.
    Cocos Island (Costa Rica) – Description and travel.
    Cocos Island (Costa Rica) – Photographs.
    Guatemala – Description and travel.
    Guatemala – Photographs.
    Lamb, Emma Holderman
    Lamb, John Charles
    Lesser, Sol
    Hillsboro (N. M.)
    Orange County (Calif.)
    Correspondence - 20th century
    Diaries - 20th century
    Manuscripts - 20th century
    Photographs - 20th century