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Derrick Norman Lehmer | D.H. and Emma Lehmer

Derrick N. Lehmer (1867-1938)
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The Lehmer Family, April 1914
7.0 x 5.0 inches
Private collection

The Lehmer family on the steps of their Regent Street house in Berkeley.  From left:  D. H. (aged 9),  Helen (10), Stephen (7), D. N. holding Alice (3), Eunice, and Eunice (11).

Lehmer as Otter Chief in "The Masque of Absaroka," 1927
4.0 x 10.0 inches
Private collection

Lehmer was unusually accomplished in his life apart from the academy. Fascinated by Native American culture, he toured the Southwest extensively to collect artifacts, legends, music, and photographs. Drawing on his considerable musical, writing, and performing talents, Lehmer wrote and recorded dozens of poems and songs and composed three musical works based on Native American themes. 

His first work, "The Masque of Absaroka," with a Crow theme, was presented in Bozeman, Montana, in 1927. 

Illustration from "Some Recent American Indian Operas," 
in The Pacific 2(2-3): 192, Berkeley: Haih Co. 1935.
4.0 x 6.3 inches
Private collection

Lehmer's first opera, "The Harvest," was performed in San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose in 1933 and 1934. 

Manuscript score of "The Necklace of the Sun: A Folk-drama of the Cliff-dwellings, " 1935.
9.5 x 12.5 inches
Private collection

His second opera "Necklace of the Sun," set in Mesa Verde with a Mayan theme, was presented by the Chamber Opera Company of San Francisco in Oakland and San Francisco in 1935. Along with his other musical works, it was reviewed in "Some Recent American Indian Operas" in the October 1935 issue of The Pacific, Vol.2, no. 2-3: 192-196.

Lehmer published at least nine volumes of Indian songs and a sea chantey, "The Ballad of San Francisco Bay," between 1924 and 1937.


Fightery Dick and Other Poems
New York, N.Y.: Macmillan, 1936
6.0 x 8.5 inches


He was also an accomplished poet and editor, publishing several books of poetry, including the well-received Fightery Dick (1936), and serving as editor of the University Chronicle from 1923 to 1933. 

Eunice and D. H. Lehmerat Decatur, ILLINOIS?, 1934.
4.75 x 4.0 inches
Private collection

Lehmer wrote a novel, The Shadow of a Doubt, which was left unfinished at his death in 1938. Just the Two of Us: Verses for Boys and Girls was published posthumously by his widow, Eunice Mitchell Lehmer (herself an accomplished poet).

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