Scope and Content
Title: Verna Johnston Collection
Collection number: MS 261
Extent: 39 linear feet
University of the Pacific. Library. Holt-Atherton Department of Special Collections
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 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,
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.