© California Room
November 8, 1952: Dedication of the Willis Linn Jepson memorial at Tomales Bay State Park
The California Room recently acquired a photograph depicting an event in what looked like a clearing in a forest. With no other information at hand, such as a caption or other related materials, or even to whom the photo originally belonged (what we call the "provenance"), we were – pardon the pun – stumped. But not for long! We called in an expert: researcher, author and historian Dewey Livingston, who is always a tremendous help in sharing his vast knowledge of Marin County history. Immediately Dewey knew by the trees and surroundings that this was Inverness, and more specifically Tomales Bay State Park, and the woman looked to be conservationist Caroline Livermore. We concluded the date of the photograph was circa 1950.
Given this helpful information, we checked the California Room clipping files for Tomales Bay State Park. Lo and behold, on the front page of the Independent Journal of November 10, 1952 we found the article "Jepson Lauded At Dedication of Memorial Near Inverness," with accompanying pictures which were likely taken by the very photographer shown in our own now-identifiable photograph.
Dedication of the Willis Linn Jepson Memorial occurred on November 8, 1952. More than 200 people attended the event in honor of Professor Jepson (1867-1946), a botanist whose career at the University of California, Berkeley spanned from 1899 until 1937. Jepson is known as the "dean of California botanists," having authored over 200 scientific papers and eight books, including A Manual of the Flowering Plants of California and A Flora of California. Jepson founded the California Botanical Society (1913), and the Save the Redwoods League (1918), and is highly respected for his research and for laying the foundation for a the study of California flora.
Pictured in the photograph, l-r: [unknown]; Joseph R. Knowland, chair, state park commission; Emanuel Fritz, UC faculty and friend of Jepson; Caroline Livermore, Marin Conservation League; and Charles Kasch of the park commission.
According to the newspaper article, the memorial is located among Bishop pine trees, "so often a refuge and meditation spot for the late Professor Jepson." The site was chosen by a close friend of Jepson's, Emanuel Fritz, University of California forestry professor and consultant for the California Redwood Association. State park commissioner Charles Kasch said that day, "There could be no better site for a memorial to Prof. Jepson, because seldom are memorials so typical of the persons involved." He continued, "Jepson fought 40 years ago for the things we fight for today. Boundaries to this memorial have been suggested. I hope none are established. He could not be fenced in during his lifetime. I hope he isn't fenced in at this memorial."