Scope and Content
Title: Verna Johnston Collection
Collection number: MS 261
Extent: 39 linear feet
University of the Pacific. Library. Holt-Atherton Department of
Shelf location: For current information on the location of
these materials, please consult the library's online catalog.
Collection is open for research.
[Identification of item], Verna Johnston Collection, MS 261,
Holt-Atherton Department of Special Collections, University of the Pacific
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
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
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.