Restrictions on Access
System of Arrangement
Scope and Content
Title: Leo L. Stanley scrapbooks and papers
Date (bulk): 1928-1965
Date (inclusive): 1849-1974
Collection Identifier: MS 2061
Stanley, Leo L. (Leo Leonidas), b. 1886
(8 linear feet)
California Historical Society
678 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA, 94105
Collection is stored onsite.
Language of Materials:
Collection Materials are in English
Comprises scrapbooks, correspondence, writings, publications, and other materials created or collected by Dr. Leo Leonidas
Stanley documenting his personal research and professional work as a prison doctor, ship's physician, and medical experimenter
(1913-1974). The scrapbooks contain Stanley's observations of conditions at prison hospitals and road camps in the United
States and abroad, as well as descriptions of his travels. Scrapbooks, autobiographical writings, and other materials document
the experimental testicular transplant surgeries Stanley performed during his tenure at San Quentin. The collection also contains
Stanley's correspondence with prisoners, including J.P. "Bluebeard" Watson; Watson's writings, including his novel
; and official reports and records Stanley collected or transcribed from San Quentin.
Restrictions on Access
Documents in the Leo L. Stanley scrapbooks and papers (MS 2061) containing personally identifiable health information are
restricted during the lifetime of the person in question. Individuals are presumed to be deceased 100 years after the date
of their birth or the date of record creation, whichever occurs first.
The following documents are sealed and closed until the date indicated:
All Pacific Cruise: Australia (vol. VI), Box 5, page 284: Sealed and closed until 2029.
All Pacific Cruise: New Zealand, Fiji, Pago Pago, Hawaii (vol. VII), Box 5, pages [330-334]: Sealed and closed until 2029.
Korea: San Francisco, Honolulu, Wake Island, Tokyo, Seoul: Sealed and closed until 2020.
Inspection Tour of Road Camps, Box 22, pages  and : Sealed and closed until 2016. Page : Sealed and closed until 2013.
Restricted documents have been separated and sealed in Box 27.
All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Director
of Library and Archives, North Baker Research Library, California Historical Society, 678 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA
94105. Consent is given on behalf of the California Historical Society as the owner of the physical items and is not intended
to include or imply permission from the copyright owner. Such permission must be obtained from the copyright owner. Restrictions
also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational
[Identification of item], Leo L. Stanley Papers, MS 2061, California Historical Society.
Leo Leonidas Stanley reminiscences, MS 3505 [concerning the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire].
The collection was given to the California Historical Society by Dr. Leo L. Stanley in 1974.
System of Arrangement
This collection is arranged into three series: 1) Travel scrapbooks, which contain daily descriptions of journeys in the United
States and abroad, with accompanying photographs and ephemera; 2) Prison scrapbooks and related material, which include materials
pertaining to San Quentin State Prison and prison road camp inspections in California; and 3) Personal papers, articles, and
writings, which contain several autobiographical manuscripts, newspaper articles and magazine clippings, correspondence, and
a manuscript written by Stanley's father, Dr. Hartwell B. Stanley.
Leo Stanley was born in Oregon in 1886 and raised in San Luis Obispo County, California. After receiving his bachelor's degree
at Stanford University in 1903 and matriculating to Cooper Medical College in 1908, Stanley served his medical residency at
San Quentin State Prison. In 1913, Stanley accepted the position of Chief Medical Officer at the prison, a position he held
until his retirement in 1951. During his tenure at San Quentin, Stanley performed medical experiments on prisoners involving
testicular transplants, attracting national media attention (the "Buck" Kelly case). This notoriety would cling to him until
his death in 1976.
Throughout his life, Stanley traveled the world, working as a physician, studying prison hospitals, and observing conditions
at prison road camps. He penned a number of articles for San Francisco Bay Area newspapers and medical journals and published
several books, including
My Most Unforgettable Convicts. The final years of his life were spent writing and working on his farm ("Crest Farm") in Marin County, California, with
his second wife Bernice Holthouse.
Scope and Content
Collection materials document Stanley's personal research and professional work as a prison doctor, ship's physician, and
medical experimenter (1913-1974). The scrapbooks contain Stanley's observations of conditions at prison hospitals and road
camps in the United States and abroad, as well as descriptions of his travels. Much of the material contains personal and
professional anecdotes, and punctuated throughout the collection are a number of autobiographical works (
News Men I Have Known,
Three Ways To Win,
A Long and Happy One: Autobiography of Leo L. Stanley, and
Twenty Years at San Quentin). Significantly, this material includes disparate versions of the experimental testicular transplant surgeries Stanley performed
during his tenure at San Quentin. Also noteworthy is Stanley's correspondence with prisoners, including J.P. "Bluebeard" Watson
(1879-1939), who was incarcerated and ultimately died at San Quentin State Prison after he was convicted of the murder of
fifteen women. As executor of Watson's estate, Stanley retained a number of his writings, including poems, musings, and two
versions of Watson's novel
Tangled, which are included in the collection. The collection also contains a number of official reports and records Stanley collected
or transcribed from San Quentin, including a published register of convicts complete from 1851-1859 (
Register of State Prison at San Quentin 1889).
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog:
California State Prison at San Quentin--Officials and employees.
California State Prison at San Quentin.
Watson, J. P.
Human experimentation in medicine--California.
Voyages and travels.
Voyages around the world.
The following items were formerly cataloged as MS 1303:
Korea: San Francisco, Honolulu, Wake Island, Tokyo, Seoul, 1956; Reports of State Prison Directors on San Quentin, 1855-1912;
Register of State Prison at San Quentin 1889; Federal Executions at the California State Prison at San Quentin, 1895;
The Evolution of a State Prison, by James Wilkins; and
News Men I Have Known.