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Register of the Verna Johnston Collection
MS 261  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Verna Johnston Collection
    Collection number: MS 261
    Creator: Johnston, Verna
    Extent: 39 linear feet
    Repository: University of the Pacific. Library. Holt-Atherton Department of Special Collections
    Stockton, CA 95211
    Shelf location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the library's online catalog.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Verna Johnston Collection, MS 261, Holt-Atherton Department of Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library


    Verna Johnston, ecologist and photographer, was born in Berwyn, Illinois (1918) and educated at the University of Illinois (M.S. in Zoology, 1941). After six years teaching in Illinois and California high schools (1939-1945), Johnston became a science instructor at San Joaquin Delta Community College in Stockton, California(1945), where she remained until retirement (Sp 1982).
    During five summers between 1955 and 1972 Verna Johnston studied photography with Ansel Adams. He strongly influenced her black and white technique and, as she writes, "laid the foundation for future growth." She has published and exhibited her photographs in several venues, most notably in one-woman shows at the Oakland Museum (1979) and at the Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite (1987). Johnston often publishes her photographs in the service of the wildlife preservation movement.
    Although early in her career Johnston was an active and enthusiastic ornithologist who published a number of articles on the behavior of Midwestern and California birds, her principal scientific concern has been the struggle of native plants and animals for survival in the face of human and foreign species encroachments. In addition to many articles on these and other topics, Johnston has published two monographs, Sierra Nevada (1970) and California Forests & Woodlands (1994). Although the her work generally focusses on northern California---particularly the Central Valley and the Sierra---she has also developed a more than passing interest in Alaskan ecology. This preoccupation culminated in Johnston's extended trip to that region (1974).
    In 1959-60 Verna Johnston won a National Wildlife Federation fellowship in writing and photography. Later she received a National Science Foundation fellowship for study at the Desert Biology Institute of Arizona State University (1963). She has also visited the Guatemalan rainforests and the Mayan ruins at Tikal (1966).
    During the 1960s and 70s Verna Johnston became concerned about the plight of the Tule Elk, an endangered species indigenous to California. Johnston was an officer of the Committee for the Preservation of the Tule Elk. She both lobbied and published articles on behalf of the elk. Her papers contain these materials as well as correspondence and announcements of the Committee.
    Johnston was also a member(1980s)of the Mono Lake Committee. The activities of this group are represented in her papers by miscellaneous correspondence, flyers and clippings covering more than a decade (1978-1994).

    Scope and Content

    Verna Johnston's papers contain her notes, writings, clippings, correspondence and photographs pertaining to California and Alaskan ecology. She has arranged most of the papers in alphabetical subject files. Johnston's photographs are also organized in an alphabetical filing system that lists each image by subject and provides a history of submissions for publication. The collection includes a selection of periodicals and government reports pertaining to subjects represented in the papers. The total extent of the Verna Johnston Collection is approximately 39 linear ft. more than half of which consists of photographs, slides and negatives.