Chautauqua: The Nature Study Movement
in Pacific Grove, California

John Muir
John Muir
Photograph Taken by Professor Francis M. Fritz in 1907.
Courtesy of UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library.

The following account of the Pacific Coast Assembly of the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle (CLSC) introduces the reader to California's first summer school of science.  Positioned along the shoreline of southern Monterey Bay, the Chautauqua Assembly program placed a particular emphasis on the study of natural history; offering courses in terrestrial and marine botany, marine zoology and conchology for over twenty five years. Along with the teaching of natural history, the Pacific Coast Chautauqua Assembly offered daily lectures and courses of instruction in normal school training, the humanities and the arts.

Weaved within the history of the Pacific Coast Assembly of the CLSC, are new details related to the life of John Muir.  Within this account one learns of Muir's participation in a Yosemite Sunday School Assembly in 1879, led by Reverend John Heyl Vincent, founder of the Chautauqua program. In addition to Muir’s participation one learns how the Yosemite Sunday School Assembly served as an opportunity for the construction of the Yosemite chapel.

Beyond his participation in the Yosemite Assembly, there is the telling of Muir's close friendship with Charles Herman Allen, Principal and Professor of California State Normal School in San Jose. In addition to CH Allen, there is recognition of the numerous friends of John Muir who contributed to the Pacific Coast Assembly of the CLSC, including California botanists Volney Rattan, Charles Christopher Parry, John and Sarah Lemmon, Stanford University’s President David Starr Jordan; University of California's Professors Joseph Le Conte and Cornelius B. Bradley, and many others.

Accompanying this acknowledgement of John Muir’s many friends, and their involvement with Pacific Grove’s Chautauqua Assembly, one is presented with a chronological summary of the few occasions Muir spoke in public. This outline of Muir’s lectures, intertwined with letters of correspondence, provide an appreciation for the eminent naturalists’ immense fear of speaking to large public audiences.

The above elements are just a few illuminating bits of history presented in this book, with the overall context of the monograph imparting a possible explanation for a nations’ extreme reverence for nature.  

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iPad, and with iTunes on your computer.

Book Chapters

1 pdf

A Summer School of Science
Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz (1807-1873)
Louis Agassiz as Mentor
The Museum of Comparative Zoology
Louis Agassiz's Aspirations
The Anderson School of Natural History, 1873

2 pdf

Higher Education in Mid 19th and Early 20th Century America
The Elementary Education Of Children In Mid 19th And Early 20th Century America
Louis Agassiz's Method of Study
The Influence of Penikese on American Education

3 pdf

The Pacific Institute Excursion
Yosemite Assembly of 1879
Pacific Grove Retreat
Pacific Grove Assembly of 1879
The Southern Pacific Railroad, Livery Teams, Accommodations and Supplies
The Pacific Coast Branch Of Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle (est. 1880)
An Emphasis on the Study of Natural History

4 pdf

Methodism in America
Pacific Grove Methodist Retreat
A Summer School of Science
A Summer School for Teachers
Courses of Marine Botany and Marine Zoology
A Variety of Natural History Courses

5 pdf

Five College Institutions Located in the SF Bay Area
California State Normal School at San Jose
College of the Pacific
Mills College of Oakland
University of California, Berkeley
Leland Stanford Junior University
Other Distinguished Teachers

6 pdf

Early Lectures By John Muir
Connections to John Muir
Muir Clan and Pacific Grove
David Muir
Sarah Muir Galloway

7 pdf

The Humanities
The Romantics
Progressive Pedagogical Philosophies
Department of Art

8 pdf

California’s Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circles
From Chautauqua Circles to Women’s Clubs to the Protection of Nature
Attendance at the Pacific Coast Assembly
Membership in the Pacific Coast Branch of the CSLC
Recognition Day

9 pdf

Methodist Retreat Location and Design of the Open-Air Temple
Hall In The Grove
The Pacific Grove Museum
Methodist Episcopal Church and Assembly Hall

10 pdf

The Pacific Grove Retreat: A Conference Headquarters
Puritan Blue Laws
The Final Years
The Scheduled Appearance of John Muir at a Yosemite Chautauqua Assembly 

11 pdf


12 pdf



Assembly Reports:

1879   1880   1881   1882   1883   1884   1885   1886
Contact, Don Kohrs, the author of Chautauqua: The Nature Study Movement in Pacific Grove, California, if you have questions, comments or would like to inquire about the possibility of a talk on the subject.

Don Kohrs
Harold A. Miller Library
Hopkins Marine Station
of Stanford University
Pacific Grove, CA 93950-3094
(831) 655-6229

See also: