visit to the Louise Arner Boyd archives in Marin

janis_LABarchiveLong fun weird afternoon spent in the Louise Arner Boyd archives with Janis this week –  at the Marin History Museum’s storage facility in a very nondescript corporate park in Novato.

We found a lot of great photos Boyd took on her expeditions to Greenland and the Arctic. The photos in her books about Greenland are pretty stunning landscapes in ice and snow-covered mountain and sea that look like these arty, Rorschach Test-like, sculptural abstract universes.  And most fascinatingly, we found files and files filled with her meticulous receipts to Abercrombie & Fitch (she was s serious customer, ordering all kinds of custom gear) and long long lists of food provisions and gear.  boyd-food

It was like I was doing my own taxes, only she spent a whole lot more! I definitely got a whole new image of this woman – extremely thorough, detail-oriented, and in charge. She managed every single detail of these trips (with a staff of course), and paid for it all out of pocket. And she was used to getting what she wanted – down to the exact brand of jam she wanted for her toast (on a ship in the Arctic Circle)!?! Madame Boyd was not roughing it.

And she took her hooch seriously, too:boyd-hooch “1000 bottles Pilsner beer”

Boyd  was also very assiduous about documenting her scientific discoveries, we saw field notebooks filled with drawings of new plant species she observed, and a lot of correspondence with major botanical societies confirming her discoveries, what was new, what was already known. And these fantastic lists of new plant species, typed out on rice paper. All in their Latin names, really gorgeous.

We will see what comes of all of this, but a great day snooping around in someone’s legacy, for sure.