Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Belle Sumner Angier, 1870-1948
By Molly Silvestrini and Alden Blake, UC Santa Barbara
Member, Equal Suffrage League; Member, Southern California Women's Press Club, Los Angeles, CA; Member, Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR); Tierra Alta Chapter; Member, San Diego Woman's Club.
Miss Belle Sumner Angier (also called Belle Sumner Angier Burn) was born April 25, 1870 in Illinois, to her parents Albert Warriner Angier, a publisher and Josephine Sumner Angier. Angier's father Albert was a dry farmer in the area then known as Red Cliff. She had two siblings: Albert William Angier and Iva Josephine Angier.
She graduated from Berkeley High School and studied at the University of California, Berkeley and USC Law School. She worked as an advertising writer, 1899-1904, was a staff member, Los Angeles Times 1900-1905 and in 1905 the Los Angeles Express. She then became the Society Editor, Los Angeles Evening New 1906.
In 1907 Belle Angier married Walter Lewis Burn and moved to Los Angeles, where she became a landscape architect and a prolific writer, writing 20 volumes on West Coast Estates between 1910 and 1928. She authored “The Torrey Pine” in 1900 for Overland Monthly vol. 35, The Garden Book of California in 1906, and from 1899-1907 she wrote articles for several papers in Los Angeles, such as The West Coast Magazine. In The Garden Book of California, Angier stated: “The garden of the world is California, and the ideal home may be made here” (1). She helped establish and plan numerous public and private grades and parks in Southern California.
Angier had a strong interest in studying California native plants; she collected seeds and bulbs for European firms in an effort to preserve plants that were becoming rare. In 1888-1889, she conducted the first census of Torrey pines in San Diego and concluded that only four hundred pines remained. In 1895, Angier completed a botanical assignment in the Torrey Pines area for Dr. Charles Sprague Sargent, Director of the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University. Because of the threatened extermination of the Torrey pine groves, Angier appealed to active members of the San Diego Society of Natural History to petition the City Council to take specific action to assure their preservation. Harvard University currently holds a collection of Dr. Sargent's works, and a copy of a letter that Angier wrote to him describing the Torrey pines. She continued to fight for ecological preservation and by 1902 she is active in active in the suffrage movement, having attended the annual women's suffrage convention in San Francisco in 1902 and serving has an officer in the California Equal Suffrage League over the course of the next decades.
Angier operated a landscape architecture firm and was the landscape architect for the Virginia Hotel and the Bixby Hotel in Long Beach, California from 1906 to 1908, which were prominent projects in the Los Angeles area. The Bixby Hotel has since been demolished.
Angier died on July 12, 1948 at age 78 in Los Angeles County, California. She is buried at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, Los Angeles County.
1. Ancestry.com. California, County Birth, Marriage, and Death Records, 1849-1980 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2017. Accessed July 8, 2019.
2. Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census[database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010. Accessed July 8, 2018.
3. Angier, Belle Sumner. The Garden Book of California. San Francisco and New York: Paul Elder and Co., 1906.
4. Belle Sumner Angier Burn, Pacific Coast Architecture Database.http://pcad.lib.washington.edu/person/8072/ Accessed July 8, 2018.
1. Harringshaw, Thomas William. Herringshaw's American Blue Book of Biography. American Publishers Association, 1915, p. 198.
2. Mickelson, Joan. Joseph W. Young Jr. and the City Beautiful: a biography of the founder of Hollywood, Florida. McFarland & Co., 2013, p. 20-21.
3. Harper, Ida Husted, editor. History of Woman Suffrage. Vol. 6, National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1920, p. 29. [LINK]
4. Lenz, Lee W. (1977) "The Awakening Years," Aliso: A Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany: Vol. 9, no. 1, 1977, p. 8-14. https://scholarship.claremont.edu/aliso/vol9/iss1/7
5. “Belle Sumner Angier Burn.” Find a Grave. Accessed April 18, 2019: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/85358928/belle-sumner-burn
6. Schulman, Judy. “the Belle of Torrey Pines.” Torreyana: A Newsletter for Torrey Pines State Reserve. Vol. 3, no. 5, September 2002, p. 1-7.
7. Victor A. Walsh. “Preserving ‘Nature's Artistry.' Torrey Pines During Its Formative Years as a City and State Park.” California History. Vol. 85, No. 2, 2008, p. 24-41.