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De Graff Austin Papers MS 1
MS 1  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Arrangement
  • Biographical / Historical Notes
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Processing Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Scope and Content

  • Title: De Graff Austin Papers
    Identifier/Call Number: MS 1
    Contributing Institution: San Diego History Center Document Collection
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 14.0 Linear feet (26 boxes)
    Date (inclusive): 1888-1978
    Abstract: The collection documents De Graff Austin's political career as well as his involvement in local organziations.
    Language of Materials: Collection materials are in English and Spanish.
    creator: Austin, De Graff


    Collection is arranged into series:
    Series I: First District County Supervisor 1941 Campaign
    Series II: City Councilman 1942
    Series III: San Diego City-County Camp Commission
    Series IV: First District County Supervisor 1945 Campaign
    Series V: First District County Supervisor 1949 Campaign
    Series VI: First District County Supervisor 1945-1949
    Series VII: Collector of US Customs 1949
    Series VIII: Democratic Nominee for Representative in Congress for the 30th California District 1952 Campaing (unsuccessful)
    Series IX: Fourth District County Supervisor 1954 Campaign
    Series X: Fourth District County Supervisor 1958 Campaign
    Series XI: Fourth District County Supervisor 1962 Campaign
    Series XII: Fourth District County Supervisor 1966 Campaign
    Series XIII: Fourth District County Supervisor 1954-1970
    Series XIV: Activities and Affiliations
    Series XV: Personal Papers
    Items in each series are arranged by subject, with subject files separately arranged in alphabetical order.

    Biographical / Historical Notes

    Hurlbert De Graff Austin was one of nine children born to Fayette Austin and Cora Emma Andrews, on his family’s ranch near Fallbrook, California, on July 25, 1895. He lived his entire life in San Diego County, in Fallbrook, Escondido and San Diego. His father, Fayette Austin, was trained as an etymologist and served as the first San Diego County Agricultural Commissioner. De Graff Austin went to grade school in Escondido and Logan Heights then attended San Diego High School, where he served as class president in his senior year. After his high school graduation in 1913, he enrolled at Pomona College for two years to study for the Ministry of the Congregational Church. Austin was advised to give up ministry and to study law. From September 1915 to June 1917, he studied law at Hamilton-Lindley Law School in San Diego. While studying law, he worked as one of several secretaries for Arthur W. Savage, firearms manufacturer. In June of 1917, he enlisted as a Flying Cadet for the Air Section Signal Corps, U.S. Army to serve during World War I. Austin received his ground training at University of California, Berkeley and flight training at Kelley Field, Rockwell Field, Ream Field, and March Field. He was commissioned to 2nd Lieutenant later that same year. He left the Service in 1919 and went on to work for various local firms.
    Austin soon became active in the local Democratic Party. In 1940, he began his political career by running for County Supervisor. His bid was unsuccessful, but in 1942 he was appointed to fill a vacant seat on the San Diego City Council. The following year, he was elected to the Council, and served as Vice Mayor in 1944. He then resigned in 1945 to run for County Supervisor in the First District. His campaign was a success. The District then included Hillcrest, Mission Hills, University Heights, and Point Loma. Austin served on the Board until 1949.
    In 1949 President Harry Truman appointed Austin, Collector of Customs for the Port of San Diego, 25th U.S. Customs District. He served in the post until 1952, when he resigned to run for Congress. Austin’s opponent was Republican Robert ‘Bob’ Wilson. However, 1952 was a bad year for Democrats, and Wilson won the election easily.
    After two years in the real estate business, Austin again entered politics. In 1954, he ran against County Supervisor Dan Rossi in the Fourth District. Rossi suffered from allegations of misconduct and immorality, while Austin’s campaign stressed ‘clean’ government and reform. Austin won the election and retained his position as County Supervisor of the Fourth District until his retirement in 1971.
    Austin founded the City-County Camp Commission which gave sixth grade students, as part of their curriculum, a week long opportunity to camp in the wilderness. He was also a long time, influential member of the San Diego Rowing Club, serving more than 30 years as secretary-manager and as President from 1955 to 1958. Other local organizations he was involved in included the Native Sons of Golden West, San Diego chapter of the Phi Kappa Gamma fraternity, and the Rotary Club. For many years, Austin was involved in real estate and property management. He received his real estate broker license in 1953 and engaged in a partnership with Ralph Shattuck.
    De Graff Austin married Charlotte Lester in 1920. They had two children, Arthur, who became a dentist, and Marie, who married William Walsh, a naval officer. The Austins were divorced in 1955 and in 1956 Austin married Beatrice Fricker. Austin died at the age of 84 in San Diego on March 28, 1980.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Accession number 811110.

    Conditions Governing Use

    The San Diego History Center (SDHC) holds the copyright to any unpublished materials. SDHC Library regulations do apply.

    Conditions Governing Access

    This collection is open for research.

    Processing Information

    Collection processed by Aimee Santos on November 28, 2012.
    Collection processed as part of grant project supported by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) with generous funding from The Andrew Mellon Foundation.

    Preferred Citation

    De Graff Austin Papers, MS 1, San Diego History Center Document Collection, San Diego, CA.

    Scope and Content

    This collection documents De Graff Austin’s political career and involvement in local organizations, including his first campaign for First District County Supervisor in 1941 to his retirement as Fourth District County Supervisor in 1970. Campaign materials include literature and advertisements, budgets and expenditures, correspondence, speeches, and election results. Subject files cover topics such as Airport Commission, Fire Prevention, Health, Planned Parenthood, Sports Arena, and Travel. Austin’s appointment as Collector of US Customs in 1949 includes administrative documents and correspondence. The formation and operations of the Camp Commission are also in the collection. There are documents pertaining to his participation in local organizations like the Rotary Club, Phi Kappa Gamma Fraternity, and San Diego Rowing Club, as well as personal papers, including an autobiography and his pilots’ license.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Austin, De Graff
    Phi Kappa Gamma Fraternity.
    Rotary Club (San Diego, Calif.).
    San Diego (Calif.). City Council.
    San Diego City-County Camp Commission.
    San Diego County (Calif.). Board of Supervisors.
    San Diego Rowing Club.
    Campaign funds
    Campaign literature
    Political campaigns
    San Diego (Calif.)
    San Diego County (Calif.)