:: Ira J. Condit Collection


Noted scientist and horticulturalist, Dr. Ira Condit, amassed this collection in his decades long study of the Ficus genus, which includes such diverse species as the F. benjamina (also known as the Weeping Chinese Banyan, a commonly kept indoor plant) and F. elastica (or rubber plant). In particular, Dr. Condit studied various specimens of F. carica, or the edible fig, during his association with the Department of Horticultural Science and the Citrus Experiment Station at the University of California, Riverside. His published works on the subject include The Fig (1947) and Ficus: The Exotic Species (1969), the latter of which is referenced in his correspondence. Along with the citation note cards, his letters indicate his status as a well-respected researcher devoted to the study of ficus and its ornamental and commercial uses.

The collection measures 1.5 linear feet, contained in two boxes.


Ira Judson Condit was born in November 1883, in Ohio. He attended Ohio State University where he received a Bachelor's of Science in 1905. His post-graduate degrees included a Master's of Science from the University of California in 1918 and a PhD from Stanford in 1932. Some of his early-published reports included those on the avocado and carob in California (1915 and 1919); the Oriental persimmon (1919); and the loquat (1915). He later published Olive Culture in California in 1947, illustrating his work with fruit trees capable of growing in Riverside's climatic conditions. He also co-authored Citrus Fruits and their Future in Kwangtung Province, South China . But his work with the genus ficus and especially the fig, made Condit known in his professional circle. Though he officially retired in 1951, he continued to receive mail on the topic along with requests for cuttings. In fact, most of the correspondence dates from after his retirement. As well as working in Riverside, Condit lived in the city at a home on 2020 Arroyo Drive and later at 3574 Rosewood Drive with his wife (see Purkart Collection for a plan of one home). He later moved to Santa Barbara where he died in September 1981 at the age of ninety-seven years old.

Scope and Content

The collection has two series. Series I (Correspondence) has two sub-series. Sub-series A has general correspondence with the folders listed in alphabetical order. The folders in Sub-series B contain in-coming and out-going letters related to a specific person. These folders are also arranged in alphabetical order by surname. In the interest of preserving the original order set by Condit, the items in Series I remain as found, with some organized alphabetically and some filed under a specific individual's name. Condit also organized his material by stapling multiple items together. At times, six or seven items between Condit and a specific person had been stapled three or four times with the addition of each reply. Some items may seem to have been placed out of order. For example, Series I.A.8 ("F") contains letters from John Creech and F.L. Skinner. But since they had been generated as a result of correspondence with H.H. Fisher, they remain in their current location. Some folders have been re-organized as a result of the current processing effort. See series description for more details. Series I also contains correspondence from a variety of locations including Japan, Crimea (Ukraine), Italy, Netherlands, Indonesia, India, Vietnam, and China. Occasionally some of the correspondence or enclosures are in another language other than English, though Condit replied in English. The letters are generally professional in nature with an occasional personal reference. Some letters had not been addressed to Condit but had been referred to him by the addressee; also, office personnel replied to correspondence in his absence. Condit's replies are generally carbon copies of his letters. Items other than letters are included as enclosures in Series I; these include photographic materials, essays, advertising materials, and printed articles. Series II ( Note Cards) has various bibliographic citations listed on each card. The items had been arranged by topic; see series description for further information. The materials in the collection date from 1914 to 1967 with no items dating from the 1920s. Item counts do not necessarily reflect the actual number of pages.

Series Description

Series I: Correspondence

Sub-series A: General Correspondence

Some folders have been reorganized. The items in Folder 2 had originally been contained in three folders under the headings B, Bar, and Be-Bh. The material in Folder 11 had originally been arranged in two folders. Some items have been moved between folders. For example, Folder 4 had several items that were more appropriate for Folder 5. Occasionally, it is unclear how Condit organized his material. For example, Folder 13 has several letters between Condit and Eugenio de la Cruz, whom Condit refers alternately as either "de la Cruz" or "la Cruz." The folders contain various noteworthy items. Folder 6 has correspondence between Condit and Don Derr of the Riverside Parks Department regarding the planting of ficus along city streets. Folder 13 has a photo of Condit taken in 1963. Folder 15 has a typed manuscript by Condit for an article, "Figs: Fantastic and Frustrating," that appeared in 1966 for a bio-supply company publication. Folder 5 also contains typed essays by Condit contracted by an encyclopedia publisher.

Folder 1: A, June 1957 – July 1967 (twenty-seven items)

Folder 2: Ba – Bh, May 1949 – January 1963 (twenty-one items)

Folder 3: Bi – By, December 1962 – August 1967 (twenty-eight items)

Folder 4: Ca – Cn, December 1950 – March 1967 (fifty-nine items)

Folder 5: Co – Cr, August 1953 – January 1967 (seventeen items)

Folder 6: D, March 1954 – February 1967 (nineteen items)

Folder 7: E, May 1953 – June 1967 (twenty-nine items)

Folder 8: F, April 1955 – May 1967 (twenty-two items)

Folder 9: G, November 1935 – October 1967 (fifty-five items)

Folder 10: H, August 1935 – July 1967 (forty-seven items)

Folder 11: I – J, October 1965 – April 1967 (eight items)

Folder 12: K, February 1957 – February 1967 (forty items)

Folder 13: L, May 1946 – May 1967 (forty-nine items)

Folder 14: Mc, April 1960 – March 1967 (six items)

Folder 15: Ma, March 1962 – November 1966 (twenty-seven items)

Folder 16: Me – My, September 1947 – August 1967 (fifty-seven items)

Folder 17: N, November 1966 – March 1967 (three items)

Folder 18: O, February 1966 – January 1967 (ten items)

Folder 19: P, March 1963 – February 1967 (twenty-seven items)

Folder 20: R, March 1960 – March 1967 (thirty-one items)

Folder 21: S, January 1949 – August 1967 (forty items)

Folder 22: T, December 1957 – December 1966 (twenty-five items)

Folder 23: U, July 1951 – June 1959 (seven items)

Folder 24: V, September 1964 – July 1967 (thirteen items)

Folder 25: W, July 1961 – April 1967 (fifty-five items)

Sub-series B: Individuals/Companies

Like the items in Series I.A, the letters in sub-series B show the interaction between Condit and various professionals, organizations, or those seeking his opinion. These include landscape architects; professors; editors and publishers; and colleagues and UC personnel. They seem to be more in-depth correspondence than the items in sub-series A. Their separation from the general correspondence by Condit indicates that he considered these items more significant. Occasionally, a letter from a folder in Series I.A has been re-filed in Series I.B when deemed appropriate. For example, a November 1965 letter from Will Beittel had originally been located in I.A.2. The following folders are of interest. Folder 11 contains correspondence regarding the planting of ficus at Disneyland; a topic of interest for Condit at that time had been the use of ficus at parks and gardens. Folder 26 contains correspondence regarding the publication of Ficus: The Exotic Species . The folder has letters mostly between Condit and his contact at the publication office, William Paul; it also includes correspondence with an early editor on the project and Walter Reuther, who has his own folder in the collection. But the nature of these items is in keeping with letters generated in the development of a manuscript for publication. In contrast, the items in the Walter Reuther file (Folder 28) deal more with Condit's research and grants, including his report from a trip to Hawaii in 1960. Folder 30 concerns Condit's royalties from The Fig. Folder 32 has a typed copy of the foreword by William Stewart to Ficus: The Exotic Species . The folder also has two letters regarding a television appearance by Condit, which probably relates to a television series associated with Stewart and the Los Angeles Department of Arboreta and Botanic Gardens. Folder 35 contains correspondence between Condit and his employer (the University of California) concerning pay, promotion, and retirement. The letters show the progression from his appointment as an instructor of citriculture in 1914 to that of professor emeritus in 1951. The folder also includes letters from 1914 to 1950 indicating his pay and position for the school year with a gap between 1916 and 1935.

Folder 1: Mary Barrett, December 1962 – January 1967 (sixteen items)

Folder 2: Will Beittel, February 1964 – November 1965 (eight items)

Folder 3: L.W. Bryan, November 1960 – May 1967 (sixteen items)

Folder 4: L.E. Codd, February 1958 – June 1966 (fifteen items)

Folder 5: J. Elliot Coit, July 1965 – February 1967 (five items)

Folder 6: Ralph Cornell, July and October 1965 (two items)

Folder 7: Julian Crane, August 1957 – January 1966 (twelve items)

Folder 8: John L. Creech, November 1949 – September 1964 (twenty-four items)

Folder 9: Gordon DeWolf, November 1960 – April 1967 (twenty-six items)

Folder 10: Bill Evans (Evans and Reeves Landscaping, Inc.), July 1962 – November 1966 (five items)

Folder 11: M.H. Gaskins, October 1961 – July 1963 (six items)

Folder 12: George Gillett, May 1967 (one item)

Folder 13: A.B. Graf, August 1959 – January 1967 (thirteen items)

Folder 14: William J. Griffin ( Griffin and Morgan Landscaping), July 1958 – September 1964 (fourteen items)

Folder 15: R.A. Hamilton, February and March 1965 (two items)

Folder 16: Dennis Hill, August 1962 – August 1965 (twenty-four items)

Folder 17: Howard Hyland, December 1953 – July 1967 (twelve items)

Folder 18: L. Koch, December 1952 – March 1956 (seventeen items)

Folder 19: Harold Loomis, October 1950 – August 1952 (six items)

Folder 20: Elizabeth McClintock, June 1961 – March 1966 (twenty-eight items)

Folder 21: Wallace Manis, August 1963 – January 1967 (fourteen items)

Folder 22: Mildred Mathias, February 1963 – January 1967 (fourteen items)

Folder 23: Salvatore Mauro, January 1959 – March 1961 (three items)

Folder 24: Paul Moore, December 1965 – May 1967 (three items)

Folder 25: William Paul (Office of Agricultural Publications, Berkeley), May 1956 – February 1967 (forty-two items)

Folder 26: Wilson Popenoe, November 1960 – November 1966 (fourteen items)

Folder 27: Walter Reuther, March 1958 – June 1966 (twelve items)

Folder 28: F.W. Roewekamp, October 1962 (two items)

Folder 29: Ronald Press Company, November 1959 – January 1965 (five items)

Folder 30: Ralph Sharpe, January 1958 –January 1965 (nine items)

Folder 31: William Stewart (Los Angeles Department of Arboreta and Botanic Gardens), June 1957 – March 1967 (forty-two items)

Folder 32: William Storey, September 1965 – June 1966 (fourteen items)

Folder 33: V.T. Stoutemeyer, August 1964 – January 1967 (five items)

Folder 34: University of California, April 1914 – July 1953 (forty-three items)

Folder 35: James B. Vosters (Vosters Nurseries), August 1959 – November 1961 (eight items)

Folder 36: Robert Warner, March 1958 – June 1967 (seven items)

Folder 37: Harold Winters, September 1962 – August 1967 (nineteen items)

Series II: Note Cards

The note cards have been divided under the following headings: California 1990s; Institutes California; Association of Growers; Climate Frost; Propagation; U.S. West of Mississippi River; Texas; and Insects and Pests. The box also has many cards not filed under a particular index; these cards may have been miscellaneous or had not been organized by Condit. Each card contains a citation such as "The Mediterranean Fruit Fly in Hawaii," U.S. Department of Agriculture Bulletin, 1918, or "Factors affecting fig production," Pacific Rural Press, 1912. The cards demonstrate Condit 's research on the fig tree but not necessarily for the publication of his work, The Fig. Some cards cite bibliographies dating from the 1950s. The cards may have been for use in preparation of his later volume, Ficus: The Exotic Species . It is unclear how Condit arranged the cards within the various sections, whether by numerical, chronological, or alphabetical order.

Folder 1: Citation cards, undated (multiple items)

Related Collections

Purkart Collection of Architectural Drawings


Ira J. Condit Collection, University of California, Riverside, UCR Libraries, Special Collections.

Sunset Western Garden Book. Menlo Park, California: Sunset Publishing Corporation, 1995.


Local History