The People Behind the Buildings and Collections

Peter J. ShieldsPeter J. Shields has been acknowledged as the moving force behind advancing the Act of California Legislature and securing the funds needed to establish the University Farm, which later would become the UC Davis campus. The Peter J. Shields Collection, available upon request from the library’s Archives and Special Collections, contains both personal papers and materials related to the creation of the UC Davis campus.

Born on his family’s homestead at Hangtown Crossing (located within current day Rancho Cordova), Shields’ boyhood on the farm kindled a life-long interest in agriculture. At the age of 17, he graduated from Christian Brothers College in Sacramento and studied law, reading in the office of Judge Amos Catlin. He was successively private secretary to Governor James H. Budd, secretary of the State Agricultural Society, and a law partner to Hiram W. Johnson. At 38 years old, he was elected to the superior bench in Sacramento and served longer in that capacity than any other superior judge in California.

Judge Shields developed a fine and well-known herd of Jersey cattle, which were widely exhibited and won many prizes. Up until several years before his death and well into his 90s, he could be found at the State Fair judging ring on Jersey Day.

As one of the founders of the UC Davis campus, he maintained a lifelong interest in the university community and its students. In 1939 a Peter J. Shields scholarship fund was established and in 1955 he received an LLD degree from the university.

In honor of his commitment to UC Davis,  an oak grove in the arboretum was dedicated to him on April 5, 1962 at the annual Charter Day Celebration. Then on September 28, 1962, Judge Peter J. Shields passed away at the age of 100 years old.

In 1972 the campus honored Shields by naming the main library building in his memory. The main library is known as Peter J. Shields Library and the street running along its north side is Peter J. Shields Avenue.

Loren Daniel Carlson was the chief innovator of the curriculum that has been the basic curricular pattern of the UC Davis Medical School. By gaining the respect and confidence of his colleagues, he became a continuous source of advice on administrative matters on the UC Davis campus. His ability to perceive and establish relationships was apparent to all who sought his advice. He was particularly accessible and communicative to students and faculty members.

After receiving his Ph.D. in zoology in 1941 at the University of Iowa, Professor Carlson later joined the Zoology Department at the University of Washington, Seattle in 1946. He was appointed to the Department of Physiology and Biophysics and later became the chairman of the department at the University of Kentucky, Lexington Medical School in 1960. In 1966 he came to the medical school at UC Davis as assistant dean and chairman of the division of sciences basic to medicine—a post he held concurrently with the chairmanship of the Department of Human Physiology. He was elected chairman of the physiology graduate group and served as a catalyst in the development of a creative interdepartmental and scientifically productive graduate program.

Carlson was a consultant to various offices of the President of the United States, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Academy of Science. He made important contributions concerning adaptation to cold and the role of the sympathetic nervous system in regulation of heat production in homeotherms. In 1969, the University of Oslo, Norway awarded him a Ph.D. honoris causa. He was elected president of the American Physiological Society in 1968 and served as president of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology from 1969 to 1970.

The Regents of the University of California in executive session on June 20, 1980, approved “that the Health Sciences Library, located in Building B of the Medical School Complex, Davis campus, be designated the Loren Daniel Carlson Health Sciences Library.” Carlson died on December 12, 1972 and the naming and dedication ceremony took place on December 12, 1984.

Dr. F. William BlaisdellDr. F. William Blaisdell

A renowned trauma surgeon, Dr. F. William Blaisdell contributed extensively to medical research and teaching. His research and personal papers, available by request from the library’s Archives and Special Collections, tell the story of his career in which he developed innovations in trauma care that revolutionized the field nationally.

Widely considered the “father of modern trauma care”, Dr. Blaisdell created the nation’s first dedicated 24/7 trauma program at San Francisco General Hospital, where he served as chief of surgery in the 1960s, before doing the same at the UC Davis Medical Center. He chaired the UC Davis Department of Surgery from 1978 to 1995. The trauma program at UC Davis remains the only one in the region with Level I certification, the highest possible.

UC Davis dedicated the F. William Blaisdell, M.D. Medical Library in December 2006, in the new Education Building on the Sacramento campus, in recognition of his leadership in the field and his deep commitment to medical education, his patients, and his students and trainees.

In 2002, the American College of Surgeons awarded Blaisdell its highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award, for his original contributions to the care of patients with trauma, peripheral vascular disease, shock and thromboembolism and for his service to the surgical profession. His peers recognized him as an “eminent scholar, leader, surgeon and mentor.”

In addition to bearing his name, Blaisdell Medical Library houses a collection on Civil War medicine donated by Dr. Blaisdell. The items include a set of surgical instruments as well as books from that era, which can be viewed by appointment.

Dr. Blaisdell died of natural causes on April 18, 2020. To learn more, read our remembrance or this one from UC Davis Health.

Michael and Margaret Harrison at their home on T Street in Sacramento, California, circa 1955

On September 13, 1990, the UC Davis Library dedicated its preservation department in commemoration of longtime library supporter, Margaret B. Harrison.

Margaret became interested in bookbinding in the 1930s, soon after her marriage to Michael Harrison, apprenticing for a time with master bookbinder Hazel Dreis. Although she had originally planned to teach bookbinding, World War II intervened, and Margaret spent the war years as an adjutant and then a commanding officer in the Sacramento Women’s Ambulance and Transportation Corps. She did not pursue teaching. For more than four decades, however, her bookbinding skills enabled her to bind and preserve a number of volumes within the Western Americana collection that she and Michael were acquiring.

After Margaret’s death in 1980, her binding equipment and supplies were bequeathed to the UC Davis Library to support the library’s binding efforts. In memory of his wife, Michael Harrison provided an endowment, the income from which is used to augment the library’s ongoing preservation programs.

The Harrisons also donated their extensive collection on the American West to the library; it includes rare books, maps, other printed materials, art and memorabilia they collected over 80 years. The collection is housed in the Michael and Margaret B. Harrison Western Research Center on the first floor of Shields Library, and is available for research or class visits by contacting Archives and Special Collections.

Learn more about Michael and Margaret Harrison.

Maynard A. Amerine (University Archives/UC Davis Library)

Maynard A. Amerine was one of the world’s foremost authorities on both the cultural and technical aspects of grape growing and wine making. In the mid-to-late 20th century, he made the most singularly significant contributions of any one individual to the California wine industry. His accomplishments have been a major factor in California wines gaining their present status in the world.

Born in San Jose, California, on October 30, 1911, Amerine was raised in the San Joaquin Valley near Modesto. He completed his Bachelor of Science degree at the University of California, Berkeley in 1932. Prior to completion of his Ph.D. in 1935, Amerine was hired by Albert J. Winkler to work in the newly formed Department of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis. The program was designed to give assistance to the California wine industry, which was just recovering from the restrictions of Prohibition. Amerine was appointed full professor in 1952 and was chair of the department from 1957 to 1962.

Amerine was initially engaged to explore the question of which grape varieties were best suited to the wide range of climactic conditions in California. The results of this work were published in the journal Hilgardia in 1944. Over time, the determination of grape-growing regions and the adoption of recommended varieties resulted in a significant improvement in the quality of grapes grown for wine production and a corresponding improvement in the quality of California wine. Another major work, Wines: Their Sensory Evaluation, which he co-authored in 1976 with mathematician Edward B. Roessler, initiated the objective study of taste analysis. Amerine, a prolific scholar, had an extensive publication record that continued more than 25 years after his retirement and until just before his death.

Amerine is recognized as an outstanding teacher, and he has left a legacy to the state of California and the world through the hundreds of students he has trained who have become winemakers and grape growers, including the late Robert Mondavi.

One of Amerine’s most important contributions to the UC Davis Library was his enduring interest in the viticulture and enology collection and his dedication to its excellence. In 1972, he donated his personal collection of nearly 5,000 books and pamphlets to Peter J. Shields Library, many of which are rare and significant works on grape growing and wine making; the collection is available by request from the library’s Archives and Special Collections.

In addition to his donation, Amerine worked closely with library staff, co-authoring two books with different librarians:  A Check List of Books and Pamphlets on Grapes and Wine and Related Subjects, co-authored with Louise B. Wheeler; and A bibliography on grapes, wines, other alcoholic beverages, and temperance: works published in the United States before 1901, co-authored with Axel E. Borg. With his vast knowledge of the literature, Amerine also generously continued to assist librarians responsible for the subject areas of grapes and wine long after his retirement.

On September 14, 1991, the room in Shields Library that housed the grape-growing and winemaking collection was named in honor of Maynard Andrew Amerine, Professor Emeritus of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis. Amerine, a distinguished scientist and scholar, a remarkable teacher, a prolific author, and an accomplished bibliographer died on March 11, 1998. Amerine’s work is still inspiring winemakers, scholars and researchers. In 2016, the library launched Label This, a project to crowdsource the transcription of Amerine’s collection of 5,000+ wine labels.