The Clarence Ruth Collection includes about 20,000 individual artifacts, most of them from northern Santa Barbara County. Artifacts traded or collected from other parts of California, Oregon and beyond are also part of the collection, including a large number of ethnographic baskets from outside the Chumash culture area. Hundreds of chipped stone tools such as arrowheads, spear points, drills, and knives are on display along with numerous stone bowls, shell beads and other shell adornments, bone tools, and pieces of ground stone.
From the Clarence Ruth Collection. Courtesy of Lompoc Record.
Clarence “Pop” Ruth, 1960s. Courtesy of Lompoc Record.
About Clarence Ruth
Clarence “Pop” Ruth (1890-1975) was a teacher and principal in Lompoc for over twenty years. He was also an avocational archaeologist with a lifelong interest in the Chumash Indians of California’s Central Coast. During the 1930s he surveyed and collected artifacts from over fifty prehistoric sites. For many years, he displayed his large collection of Native American artifacts in his home and a small private Museum next door. Wanting his collection to remain intact and open to the public, he donated it to the City of Lompoc in 1969 resulting in the establishment of the Lompoc Museum.
A Lasting Legacy
Clarence Ruth was a man of his time, employing survey, collection, and recording techniques typical of the period. As an educator, Mr. Ruth wanted to learn about the earliest inhabitants of the area in which he lived. Like many of his contemporaries interested in antiquities, he sought to learn about people through the study, collection, and trading of the artifacts they produced. Modern social scientists are interested in the whole culture, not just the objects people made, used, and threw away. Clarence Ruth’s pioneering efforts to understand the Chumash produced a large representative collection of their material culture. Even today these artifacts have great cultural, scientific, and historic value.
“Remembering Clarence Ruth and Lompoc’s Chumash Heritage” Painted by Master Artist Colleen Mitchell-Veyna. Used with permission of the artist.
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