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Collection Overview
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This collection consists of the personal and business papers of Henry Edwards Huntington, American railroad and land developer and book, manuscript, and art collector. The papers deal chiefly with California railways and Southern California real estate and industry. There are also papers related to the Huntington family and the founding and history of the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California.
Henry Edwards Huntington (1850-1927), founder of the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, was born in Oneonta, New York to Solon Huntington and Harriet Saunders Huntington. In 1870, Henry Huntington went to New York City, and with the assistance of his uncle Collis P. Huntington, American industrialist, and railway magnate (1821-1900), found work. In 1873, he married Mary Alice Prentice (they divorced in 1906); they had four children: Howard Edward (1876-1922); Clara Leonora Perkins (born 1878); Elizabeth Vincent Metcalf (born 1880); and Marian Prentice Huntington (1883-1973). After working for several railroad companies, in 1892, Henry Huntington moved to San Francisco to join his uncle, who was president of the Southern Pacific Company. After Collis Huntington's death in 1900 and Henry Huntington's purchase of the late James de Barth Shorb's ranch in 1902, in what is now San Marino, California, Huntington moved his business interests to the Los Angeles area, organizing the Pacific Electric Railway Company, the Huntington Land and Improvement Company, and other real estate and industrial development enterprises. He purchased the Mt. Lowe Railway in 1900, and in 1902 the Los Angeles and Pasadena Electric Railway Company. By 1903, Huntington owned more than 8,000 acres of land throughout Southern California. Even though Huntington had been a collector of books and art earlier, by 1908 he was dedicating more of his time to collecting books, art, and manuscripts, as well as working on his ranch and gardens. In 1911, Huntington purchased the E. Dwight Church Library which included Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography, and in that same year obtained the Gutenberg Bible in the Robert Hoe sale. In July 1913, in Paris, France, Huntington married Arabella Huntington, the widow of his uncle, and an avid collector herself; she had a son, Archer, from a previous relationship. In 1917, Huntington purchased the Bridgewater Library from John Francis Granville Scrope Egerton, 3rd Earl of Ellesmere, which included Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury tales. In 1919, Henry and Arabella Huntington signed a trust document that turned their private estate into a public institution, and in 1922 Huntington signed a deed that transferred ownership of his books, manuscripts, art, and the San Marino Ranch to the Library Trustees. Huntington purchased Thomas Gainsborough's Blue Boy in 1921. Arabella Huntington died in September 1924. After an illness and traveling to New York City for surgery, Henry Huntington died in May 1927 at the age of 77; both Henry and Arabella Huntington are buried on the property in San Marino. The Huntington opened to the public in 1928.
540 Linear Feet (approximately 470 boxes, 1,060 volumes, 100 rolled items and oversize folders, and objects)
The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.
Open for use by qualified researchers and by appointment. Please contact Reader Services at the Huntington Library for more information.