Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Starr P. Gurcke papers
Collection number: MS 8
Gurcke, Starr P.
8 document boxes
University of California, Santa Cruz. University Library.
Special Collections and Archives
Santa Cruz, California 95064
Abstract: This collection includes translations of California pre-statehood documents as well as some research materials and work papers.
Physical location: Stored in Special Collections & Archives: Advance notice is required for access to the papers.
Languages represented in the collection:
Collection open for research.
Property rights reside with the University of California. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and
their heirs. For permission to publish or to reproduce the material, please contact the Head of Special Collections and Archives.
Starr P. Gurcke papers. MS 8. Special Collections and Archives, University Library, University of
California, Santa Cruz.
Gift of Heidi Donald 1996
Starr Pait was born in San Jose, California in 1911. She graduated from San Jose State and received a master's degree in Germanic
languages from Stanford. While on a fellowship to Germany she met and fell in love with Werner Gurcke. They married in 1936
in Santa Cruz, California before leaving for San José, Costa Rica where Werner Gurcke had previously immigrated. There they
started a family and Gurcke developed a thriving import-export business in Costa Rica, dealing in buttons, umbrellas and Hamilton
watches. But because he was still a German citizen, Werner Gurcke's business was one of 340 blacklisted by the Costa Rican
government, under pressure from the United States. He and his brother were arrested without explanation in July 1942. Six
months later, the whole family was put on the U.S. Army transport ship Puebla. Werner Gurcke spent all three weeks in the
hold of the ship, while Starr Gurcke -- described in a Department of Justice document as "sort of (an) American citizen" --
and her two young daughters slept in a cramped cabin with other families. When the Puebla landed in San Pedro, Calif., immigration
officials finally told Werner Gurcke their reason for holding him: he had entered the United States illegally. He was not
allowed legal counsel, and he and his family were taken by train to Crystal City, a former camp for farmworkers. Since Werner
Gurcke was married to a U.S. citizen, he was granted "internment at large" 18 months later at his first hearing.
The family moved to the Seabright area of Santa Cruz, where the Pait family had a beach bungalow. On Feb. 25, 1946, Gurcke
got a letter from immigration authorities saying that he was no longer considered an enemy alien. It was the same day an immigration
officer knocked on his door to ask him to sign a document admitting he was in the United States illegally. His boss and 18
neighbors petitioned the government, saying that deportation would result in extreme hardship for his wife and children and
deprive the country of "an intelligent, cultured, responsible resident." After a three-year legal battle, he was exonerated
of having entered the country illegally. In 1952, he became a U.S. citizen, pledging to fight all enemies, foreign and domestic.
Werner Gurcke died of cancer in 1970 at age 61.
After Werner's death, Starr used her linguistic talents translating documents for local historians and the County of Santa
Cruz. She died in Santa Cruz in 1997 at age 86.
Excerpted with permissions from the San Jose Mercury News article
Loss of Rights, posted on Thus, Jan. 30, 2003
Scope and Content of Collection
Starr Gurcke translated California pre-statehood documents concerning Mission Santa Cruz and Villa de Branciforte for local
historians and the County of Santa Cruz. The following includes names of the collections where she found documents about Villa
de Branciforte and Santa Cruz.
- Translations of pre-statehood documents: Villa de Branciforte, 1797-1859
- Santa Cruz Mission Annual & Biennial Reports, 1791-1840
- County of Santa Cruz - collection of early documents, ca. 1844-1865
- Alcalde of the Villa de Branciforte, 1st & 2nd Constitutional Court - January-May, 1844, etc.
- Santa Barbara Mission Archives - H L. Lummis House
- Account Book of Mission Santa Cruz, 1792-1822
- Mission Santa Cruz Reports, 1806, 1809, 1833
- General Inventory of the Mission Santa Cruz, Aug.24, 1834
- Miscellaneous letters from Santa Barbara Mission Archives - 1794, 1809-1844; from the De la Guerra Collection, Santa Barbara
Mission Archives - 1815-1834; Mission Santa Cruz Letters - 1813; From the estate of Rosario Curletti, Santa Barbara Mission
- Bancroft Library - Present Condition of California - General Report to the Viceroy, May 11, 1796 by Fr. Isidro Alonzo Salazar;
"Priest's letters and Mission Accounts" - Santa Cruz - 1807-1846; Letters from BL Vallejo XXIX p.153 (1826), 232 (1838),
276 (1838), 489 (1824)
- Archivo General de la Nacion Mexico - "Year of 1803 Californias - Jose Marcelino Bravo & other settlers of the Villa de Branciforte
- concerning their moving to the site of Corralitos 6 Leagues distant from the Villa" - Bravo Expediente
- San Francisco Chancery Archives - Letters concerning Mission Santa Cruz #234-768 - 1799-1817; #774-1399-2 - 1816-1820; #878-1660
- 1818-1824; Priest's Letters - 1816-1827
- Huntington Library - Letters concerning Mission Santa Cruz - 1812-1852
- Wallace B. Stevens Collection, University of Texas - Copy of the Report of the Royal Exchange and Minister in charge of the
2nd Naval Department concerning a new settlement in California titled "Branciforte" - 11/17/1795 - 12/17/1795; "Expediente
concerning the Erection of the Villa de Branciforte in New California" - 1976, 1977, 1798, 1799, 1800-1803; J. S. Majors Original
Grant from Governor Alvarado - 1839-1841
- Monterey County Archives, Vallejo Collection - v.1 Criminal (ca. 1807-1833); #1-7/89, 401-586; 439-507 to 1807-1833; v.2
Criminal (1835-1837) #1-142; 143-256 to 1835-1837
- MAMC Mexican Archives - Monterey County - Miscellaneous letters; Bolcoff Letters
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in
the library's online public access catalog.
Gurcke, Starr Pait--Archives
Missions, Spanish--California--History--19th century
Santa Cruz County (Calif.)--History
Gurcke, Starr Pait, db. 1911