Frontiers Spring/Summer 2019

Huntington Frontiers

Huntington Frontiers connects readers with the rich intellectual life of The Huntington, capturing in news and features the work of researchers, educators, curators, and others across a range of disciplines. It is produced biannually by the Office of Communications.

Kevin Durkin, Huntington Frontiers Editor


Frontiers Articles

20th century photograph of Carleton E. Watkins
Issue: 2019 Spring/Summer

His indelible photographs captured and promoted the American West

In his new book, art writer Tyler Green argues that Carleton Watkins (1829–1916)—widely considered the greatest American photographer of the 19th century—was also one of the most influential artists of his era.

Old map of Los Angeles
Issue: 2019 Spring/Summer

Pioneer cartographer Laura L. Whitlock captured a megalopolis in the making

In August 1919, Henry and Arabella Huntington drafted documents converting their San Marino ranch into a "library, art gallery, museum, and park."

Celia Paul painting
Issue: 2019 Spring/Summer

How Celia Paul's art resonates with that of the Brontë sisters

Beautifully installed on the second floor of the Huntington Art Gallery, the "Celia Paul" exhibition invokes works by some of the 19th-century painters in The Huntington's permanent collection 

Man inspecting a cycad
Issue: 2019 Spring/Summer

A Huntington researcher's surprising findings about the evolution of Dioon cycads

The cycad is often regarded as a living fossil—a favorite food of dinosaurs that hasn’t changed much in hundreds of millions of years...

Golden tassels
Issue: 2018 Fall/Winter

Kathleen Quinn's elegant drapes accent the renovation of a grand staircase

In advance of The Huntington’s Centennial celebration, which gets under way in the fall of 2019, Catherine Hess, chief curator of European art, decided that it was time to reimagine the décor...

Entrance to Chinese Garden
Issue: 2018 Fall/Winter

The garden's curator contemplates its poetry

With the start of the final phase of the Chinese Garden’s construction, we asked the garden’s curator, Phillip E. Bloom, who joined The Huntington in September 2017, to reflect on two of the initial features installed in 2008...

Portrait of young man migrating to US
Issue: 2018 Fall/Winter

The distance between Mexico and the U.S. can't always be measured in miles

For generations, Mexican migrants hoping to expand their possibilities have had to bridge the emotional gap between home and the unknown...

Illustration of Oswego, on Lake Ontario
Issue: 2018 Fall/Winter

A collection of correspondence yields insight into the Seven Years' War

On November 13, 1756, James Grahame hastily scribbled a letter at his London residence. The note, addressed to William Mercer in Perth, Scotland, confirmed that Grahame’s friend and William’s brother, Colonel James F. Mercer, was dead.

Drawing of a bird
Issue: 2018 Spring/Summer

The last observations of a small Hawaiian bird

In Belonging on an Island: Birds, Extinction, and Evolution in Hawai‘i (Yale University Press, 2018), Daniel Lewis takes readers on a 1,000-year journey as he explores the Hawaiian Islands’ beautiful birds and a variety of topics...

Feathered cactus
Issue: 2018 Spring/Summer

Cactus's soft touch provides key to its survival

As The Huntington’s curator of desert collections, I, along with my staff, care for 2,000 species of succulents, including a vast range of cacti, in the 10-acre Desert Garden...

A book full of seaweed
Issue: 2018 Spring/Summer

Algology preserves a passionate engagement with the underwater world

The documentary Chasing Coral (2017) brings coral close. Using underwater time-lapse photography, the film chronicles the catastrophic effects of global warming on coral reefs.

Examining Blue Boy
Issue: 2018 Spring/Summer

A paintings conservator and an ear surgeon talk shop

Thomas Gainsborough’s The Blue Boy (ca. 1770) may well be an icon of Western art and one of the most beloved attractions at The Huntington, but now that it is nearly 250 years old, this epic portrait is in need of some tender loving care.

welcome to the ranch
Issue: 2017 Fall/Winter

The Huntington's experimental demonstration garden educates and enchants

If ever there were a secret garden, it's the Ranch Garden at The Huntington...

Issue: 2017 Fall/Winter

Don't expect a garden variety flower from a modernist painter

A rose is a rose is a rose, but what a rose can mean in different contexts is staggeringly varied. Take the red rose. A token of romantic affection, it is also the flower of the City of Pasadena and its world-famous Rose Parade.

scholar's insight - a riveting hypothesis
Issue: 2017 Fall/Winter

The recess in a book's cover may have contained more than meets the eye
By Racha Kirakosian

One of the most pleasurable experiences one can have as a medievalist...

In the Woods With a Canoe
Issue: 2017 Fall/Winter

A historian of camping scrutinizes Frederick Jackson Turner's Encounter with Wilderness
By Terence Young

Camping is one of the country's most popular pastimes...

Man inspecting cycad
Issue: 2017 Spring/Summer

Survivors from the dinosaur age, cycads continue to captivate collectors and researchers

Cycads are squat, woody, and branchless. They have no flowers, just spiky leaves that shred clothes and tear skin. They grow slowly, poison livestock and sometimes people.

Catherine Hess
Issue: 2017 Spring/Summer

Two 15th-century panels from an Italian wedding chest tell a tale of passionate love

Newly married couples in 15th- and 16th-century Italy—like newlyweds today—could expect to receive a pile of wedding gifts. One of the most common gifts was a cassone, or big box...

Robert Frost
Issue: 2017 Spring/Summer

The famous poet paid an unheralded visit to the Library in 1932 to view his manuscripts

On Oct. 8, 1923, P. K. Foley, a well-known Boston bookseller and bibliographer, wrote a letter to Robert O. Schad, Henry E. Huntington’s assistant curator of rare books.

Photograph of Maj. Thomas T. Eckert and his team at the War's Department's military telegraph office
Issue: 2017 Spring/Summer

A massive crowdsourcing project is digitizing thousands of coded Union telegrams

To gain insights into the U.S. Civil War, The Huntington launched an innovative crowdsourcing project last year to transcribe and decipher a collection of telegrams...

Portrait of William Mulholland
Issue: 2016 Spring/Summer

Two historians assess Mulholland's responsibility for one of the nation's worst civil engineering disasters

In the critically acclaimed book Heavy Ground: William Mulholland and the St. Francis Dam Disaster, historians Norris Hundley, Jr. and Donald C. Jackson provide a detailed account and analysis of the collapse of the St. Francis Dam