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Materials on Citrus Pioneer Eliza Tibbets Donated
Top: Melissa Conway and Eric Milenkiewicz examine records donated to UCR Libraries. Bottom: Cover of "Creating an Orange Utopia: Eliza Lovell Tibbets & the Birth of California’s Citrus Industry."
Century-old photographs, original documents and research compiled by San Diego author Patricia Ortlieb for a book about Eliza Tibbets – the woman whose introduction of the navel orange tree to Riverside spawned a thriving citrus industry in the 19th century – have been donated to UCR.
Ortlieb spent 10 years visiting libraries, archives and government offices in Washington, D.C., New York, Massachusetts, Ohio, Virginia and California to discover more about her great-great-grandmother, whose ancestors arrived in the United States on the Mayflower, who marched with Frederick Douglass in 1871 demanding the right to vote, and whose connections with experimental gardens in Cincinnati brought the first navel oranges to Southern California.
“Creating an Orange Utopia: Eliza Lovell Tibbets & the Birth of California’s Citrus Industry,” published in September by the Swedenborg Foundation, resulted from Ortlieb’s desire to know her great-great-grandmother after reading an early 20th century article about her that was most unflattering.
“I needed to find out for myself,” she recalled. “I wanted to set the record straight. I did that.”
More than 5,000 pages of research material, original documents and family photographs gathered in the process reside now in Special Collections and Archives of the UCR Libraries, where they will be processed and made available to scholars and the general public.
“It is wonderful that this unique archival collection is coming to us,” said Ruth M. Jackson, university librarian. “UCR has been a pioneer in citrus research since its inception. As UCR has grown and matured over the past 50 years into one of the top-tier public research universities in the U.S., we view this gift as a major contribution to documenting the history of the citrus industry in southern California and the Inland Empire.”
Ortlieb said she wanted an academic library to have the documents because of the help she received from so many librarians.
“I am very pleased that the documents will be in the UCR Library,” Ortlieb said. “When my co-author, Peter Economy, and I visited the UC Riverside library we thought it was special and her (Eliza Tibbets) natural home.”
Ortlieb’s files are so organized that they will require minimal processing, said Melissa Conway, head of Special Collections and Archives.
“There’s a lot of material that is public record, but not something people can readily get on their own,” said Eric Milenkiewicz, assistant archivist. “Bringing this together in one place creates a good resource for local historians and students.”