Introducing the Carol Litchfield Collection on the History of Salt

Friday, August 19, 2016

Dr. Carol D. Litchfield, a Ph.D. in biochemistry, devoted her life’s research to halophilic microbiology, the study of tiny microorganisms that thrive in super salty waters.

Together with a student of hers, Russell Vreeland, she discovered one of these critters – the Halomonas elongata – in a Bonairean saltern (a shallow pool where seawater evaporates to become salt). After a career in academia and in the private sector, Litchfield focused her efforts on researching the history of the salt industry and on developing this collection.

Front cover Leslie Salt Co. pamphlet

Front cover of a 1954 pamphlet from the Leslie Salt Company of San Francisco, produced in a comic book format. Pam 2016.0643

She combed the earth for anything and everything related to salt: salt sacks, salt specimens, letters, account books, broadsides, maps, stamps, photographs, postcards, trade cards – even blank sheets of corporate letterhead, so long as it came from a salt company. Friends the world over pitched in by sending her hard-to-find books or pamphlets from their travels. The result is a world-class collection on the subject of salt, spanning over four centuries and written in eighteen languages. Processing of the collection began in February 2016 and is expected to conclude by the spring of 2017.

Inside page of pamphlet

Inside page. Pam 2016.0643

Back cover of pamphlet

Back cover. Pam 2016.0643

To locate materials from the Carol Litchfield Collection (not to be confused with the Carter Litchfield Collection on the History of Fatty Materials, donated to Hagley by Carol’s husband Carter), enter the collection control number of 20120612.CL into the search box of our library’s catalog.

Talia Coutin is a project cataloger at the Hagley Museum and Library.