Florence Ranuzzi was both a participant in the motion picture industry of early Hollywood and, later in life, a political activist and co-founder of Poor Richard's Bookshop, the first conservative bookshop in the United States. Florence was born in Kankakee, Illinois, in 1908 to John and Marie Nehls. She was married twice. First to director George Cunningham, with whom she had one daughter Mary, and later to Francesco "Frank" X. Ranuzzi, an Italian count with whom she had her second daughter, Gianna. Together the couple founded and operated Poor Richard's Bookshop in Hollywood, California, and at its later location in Hamilton, Montana. Florence and Frank retired to Bear Valley Springs, California, in 1975. Florence was extremely active in the community of Bear Valley. She served on the Bear Valley Community Services District Board of Directors from 1979 to 1984 and was a founding member of the Bear Valley Women's Club. Florence Edith (Nehls) Ranuzzi passed away on April 14, 2002, the day before her 94th birthday.
Scope and Content
The collection consists of material relating to Florence Ranuzzi's personal activities, including her early life in the motion picture industry, and business papers concerning Poor Richard's Bookshop. The collection includes 249 single-item cataloged letters and manuscript materials, 3 boxes of ephemera and small publications, 6 scrapbooks, and a number of printed books which were transferred to the Rare Books Department.
The correspondence represents not only the day to day business concerns of a conservative bookstore- book orders, receipts, information requests- but also the contemporary political climate. As a conservative bookstore Poor Richard's carried a wide variety of books with a similarly conservative perspective on topics such as communism, freemasonry, conspiracy theories, the hippie phenomenon, etc. This correspondence reflects the interest and opinions of Poor Richard's patrons, and at times their detractors. Materials in the collection record clashes between liberals and conservatives, and conflicts among various conservatives such as the dispute between the Ranuzzi's and Senator Lee Metcalf. This argument stemmed from Metcalf's claim that bumper stickers bearing the U.S. flag, produced and sold by Poor Richard's Bookshop, desecrated the flag and allowed the Ranuzzi's to profit from this desecration. As a whole, this collection documents the activities of a woman who, over the course of her lifetime, was an active and outspoken participant in a number of social, political and cultural settings.
The papers consist of the following series: 1. Correspondence and Manuscript material (Boxes 1-5). Materials are cataloged at an item level and are arranged chronologically. The bulk of the correspondence spans the period between 1961 and 1971. 2. Scrapbooks (Boxes 6-8, 12-13; FAC 1532-1536 in box 14). Due to preservation concerns, many of the scrapbooks have been taken apart. For further information please see the container list. 3. Ephemera (Boxes 9-11). Arranged according to topic.