Item of the Week: Snooks and friends

Published: July 15, 2010

As some of our readers may be aware, our founder William Andrews Clark, Jr. is now on Facebook.  Staff have long suspected him of haunting the library, a suspicion recently confirmed by a psychic medium present at the opening of our recent exhibition on the occult.  Whether Mr Clark’s social networking presence is an ongoing supernatural occurrence or a clever sham, the fact remains that he has been posting some archival images of the library and his colleagues that we thought might be appropriate to share here as well.

In 1919, Clark’s bibliographer Robert E. Cowan, Cowan’s wife Marie, and Caroline Estes-Smith, manager of the LA Philharmonic posed for the below picture in the library’s sunken garden, along with the Clark family’s dog, Snooks.

Robert Ernest Cowan (above, center) served as Mr Clark’s bibliographer and chief librarian from 1919 to 1933.  Cowan attended the University of California, Berkeley from 1882-1884 and worked as a bookseller in San Francisco from 1895-1920.  He married Marie Margaret Fleissner (above, right) in 1894.  Best known for the publication of bibliographies and other works on early California history, Cowan also collected a wide variety of materials on early California history (that would later form the nucleus of the UCLA Department of Special Collections’ Californiana holdings). Between 1919 and 1926, Cowan split his time between San Francisco and Los Angeles, but in 1926, when the Clark Library building was completed, Mr Clark decided he needed a full-time librarian.  He persuaded the Cowans to move to Los Angeles full-time, and bought them a house nearby.  However, the Great Depression led to financial reverses even for people as rich as Clark, who requested Cowan’s 1933 resignation for budgetary reasons. This parting did not happen on the best of terms, and as a result, Cowan left his rich collection to libraries other than the Clark on purpose.

Caroline Estes Smith (above, left) was Mr. Clark’s private secretary until 1922, when she became the manager of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  She and her husband George Leslie Smith were frequent guests of Mr Clark at his Mowitza Lodge in Salmon Lake, Montana, and lived around the corner from the library on St. Andrews Place, in a house also owned by Clark.

Snooks, or Snooky, was a well-loved pet of the Clark family, especially Mr Clark’s son, “Tertius” (William Andrews Clark III). This formidable Boston Terrier died in 1921 at the advanced age of 14. He is buried on the Clark Library’s grounds, his resting place marked by a plaque.


Jamie on

Aww, he’s so cute! I’m glad there’s a better picture of him than just a plaque. 😀 Aww. Also, welcome to the newfangled web 2.0 age, Mr. Clark. ;P

hannah p. clark on

I will transmit your message to Mr Clark. We are a very 2.0-savvy group of non-humans/ghostly apparations here at the library.

james on

Quite an amazing group you’ve got there at the Clark: an eloquent, blogging cat and a Facebooking bibliophilic ghost. I dare say some might be skeptical.

Did a psychic really confirm Clark’s presence? If so, what did s/he have to offer about him?

hannah p. clark on

Yes, he really did! Our reference librarian, Carol, asked him who the ghost haunting the library was (since people sometimes have heard strange sounds), and he said it was Mr. Clark, who was known for slamming doors in life.

Carol actually wrote a guest post about Clark ghosts around Halloween, which says a little more about what people say they’ve heard/seen/suspected at the library.

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