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Arts and Entertainment

Exhibit Featuring Catherine Mulholland's Collection Opens in the Valley

Painting of a young Catherine Mulholland, the late granddaughter of William Mulholland (California State University Northridge)
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An exhibit featuring the collection of the late Catherine Mulholland opens at CSU Northridge next week, just months after the granddaughter of water titan William Mulholland died at 88.

The exhibit “Valley Memories: The Catherine Mulholland Collection” opens on September 20 with a panel discussion and reception at the Oviatt Library at 6 p.m. There will be a panel discussing the collection and Mulholland's legacy that includes Kevin Roderick, who will speak about Valley history; Anne Gilliland, UCLA archivist and Mulholland’s niece, Christine Mulholland.

Mulholland was an interesting local — and not just because of her connection to the founder of the city's Department of Water and Power. Although she made her name rewriting a biography of her controversial grandfather, she was fascinated (and sometimes disturbed by) the transformation of the San Fernando Valley. Mulholland had bohemian tendencies: she was involved in the local jazz scene on Central Avenue and befriended poets Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac.

Here's a description of Mulholland's collection from a release announcing her gift to the library in 2008:

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Her gift to the Oviatt Library includes approximately 4,000 books from her own collection as well as those of her parents and her grandfather. Among the books are volumes that explore California’s history as well as books published in the 19th and 20th centuries, including fiction, biographies and works on jazz, poetry and history. Among the gems of the collection are a copy of Paul Frisi’s "Treatise on Rivers and Torrents," published in 1861 and often used by William Mulholland, and a copy of Harold Bell Wright’s "The Winning of Barbara Worth," presented by the author to William Mulholland "…with much gratitude for his kindness in the days when I was gathering material for this story." In addition to the books, Catherine Mulholland’s gift includes the Mulholland family papers, which consists of drafts, typescripts and chapter revisions of her books; research files, including selected copies of her grandfather’s correspondence, report files and newspaper clippings during his time with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power; Catherine Mulholland’s speech files; correspondence, journals, legal documents and financial records from the Mulholland ranch; pamphlets, brochures, yearbooks and other materials from local schools, voluntary associations and organizations; early newspapers from the towns of Owensmouth and Reseda; and family photographs.

Mulholland also gave the library a classic piano and more than 300 jazz and classical 78s and LPs, many of which are out of print or available in few library collections. The jazz artists include Stan Kenton, Art Tatum, Charlie Mingus and Mary Lou Williams. The classical records include performances by Toscanini and Solti.

Included in her gift is a trove of designer dresses and gowns, in pristine condition, that her family members wore during the "Roaring Twenties."