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Cal Poly Graphic Communication Institute Collaborates With Local Author to Publish Book on Jack House

Dec 18, 2013 12:00 AM

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SAN LUIS OBISPO — Longtime San Luis Obispo resident and historian Marilyn L. Darnell collaborated with the Graphic Communication Institute at Cal Poly (GrCI) to publish a book on San Luis Obispo’s historic Jack House.

“Anything but Dull — The Personal Letters of R. E. Jack: His Legacy from Maine to California 1856-1869” provides an overview of the life of Robert Edgar Jack, a civic leader at the forefront of developing San Luis Obispo, for whom the Jack House and Gardens are named.

Jack’s letters shed light on growing up off the coast of Maine in a seafaring, farming family. Eventually Jack makes his way to California after marching to the Battle of Gettysburg.

In his own words, Jack tells of his adventures traversing Panama and the Sierra Nevada mountains, preferring to sleep under the stars and shoot bears. With a passion for making good use of his time and for being successful, he could take anything except idleness and uselessness — anything but dull times.

Love of family, focus, service and leadership were his hallmarks, exposed in this rare collection. A plethora of topics are found among the lines including Gettysburg, Indians, topography, weather, and the cost of living.

Darnell’s extensive research will transport readers to the 1800s. “The book is one of history and intrigue, dating back to and including the Civil War and ending in San Luis Obispo,” said Harvey Levenson, director of the GrCI. “Darnell has solved the mystery of how Robert Edgar Jack emerged as one of San Luis Obispo’s most influential citizens.”

Kathryn Rummell, chair of Cal Poly’s English Department, served as editor.

For a copy of the book, contact the GrCI at or 805-756-2645.

“Anything but Dull”:
Jack House:
Graphic Communication Institute:  

About the Graphic Communication Institute at Cal Poly
The Graphic Communication Institute at Cal Poly (GrCI) is an outreach effort of the university’s Graphic Communication Department, created to provide industry professionals with access to Cal Poly’s cutting-edge resources via workshops, conferences and seminars, custom training programs, consulting, laboratory testing, and research initiatives. The institute’s educational programs involve the participation of Cal Poly faculty, leading industry experts, and advanced students from the graphic communication program. Classes make use of the dedicated training lab as well as Cal Poly’s extensive, state-of-the-art prepress imaging and press room production facilities.