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A Month at the Huntington Library

Alice Kelly, Junior Research Fellow, spent a month at the Huntington Library as the Corpus Christi-Huntington Exchange Fellow

Arriving at Los Angeles airport in late July, armed with a guidebook lent to me by another Corpus Fellow (thanks, Paul!), I crossed the city to Pasadena to take up my month-long Fellowship at the Huntington Library.

The Huntington is a research institution set in 120 acres of botanical gardens which also houses a number of art galleries and exhibition halls. I was there to see their twentieth-century holdings for my book project on the First World War and commemorative culture. This included lesser-known American First World War memoirs and memorial volumes, and works such as a rare printed text by Joseph Conrad, letters by Ford Madox Ford and Elizabeth Bowen, and manuscripts by Christopher Isherwood. I also looked at texts related to a project on Lord Northcliffe, the press magnate, whose war career I’m researching as part of my role at the Rothermere American Institute.

During my breaks I was able to explore the wonderful gardens, including some truly out of this world cacti in the Desert Garden, and the spectacular Japanese and Chinese Gardens. Walking the grounds offered some real thinking time outside of the reading room. Beyond the Huntington, I was able to use the evenings and weekends to see some of California. Getting a sense of the geography and multiple cultures of the Golden State is helpful for anyone studying American literature and history.

My month at the Huntington Library was invaluable for enriching my research, for providing thinking space in a different cultural context, and for networking with a knowledgeable and friendly community of librarians and other researchers.

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