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Finding Aid to the Stern Grove Festival Association records, 1931-1984, MS 2063
MS 2063  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition
  • Processing Information
  • System of Arrangement
  • Administrative History
  • Scope and Contents
  • Indexing Terms
  • Indexing Terms

  • Title: Stern Grove Festival Association records
    Date: 1931-1984
    Collection Identifier: MS 2063
    Creator: Stern Grove Festival Association (San Francisco, Calif.)
    Extent: 26 boxes, 17 oversize boxes (16 linear feet)
    Repository: California Historical Society
    678 Mission Street
    San Francisco, CA, 94105
    415-357-1848
    reference@calhist.org
    URL: http://www.californiahistoricalsociety.org
    Physical Location: Collection is stored onsite. Photographs are shelved separately under the call number MSP 2063.
    Language of Materials: Collection materials are in English.
    Abstract: Consists of correspondence; financial records and reports; planing committee minutes; San Francisco Recreation Commission records; concert records, programs, and posters; scrapbooks containing newspaper clippings and ephemera; and photographs, all of which were created or collected by the Stern Grove Festival Association (SGFA) between the years 1931 and 1984. Collection materials document the inception, administration, and activities of the SGFA, and the history of the open-air concerts produced by the organization in San Francisco since 1932. Significant figures represented include past SGFA presidents Rosalie Meyer Stern, Elise S. Haas, and Rhoda H. Goldman; San Francisco Superintendent of Recreation Josephine D. Randall; and conductor Arthur Fielder. The collection also contains professional photographs of performances by groups such as the San Francisco Ballet and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, some of which were taken by Gabriel Moulin Studios.

    Access

    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    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 purposes.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Stern Grove Festival Association records, MS 2063, California Historical Society.

    Acquisition

    The records of the Stern Grove Festival Association were placed on permanent loan with the California Historical Society beginning in 1955, with additions made every five years. The last deposit was made in 1984.

    Processing Information

    The collection was reprocessed and additions incorporated by Megan Hickey Nespeco in 2012.

    System of Arrangement

    The collection is arranged in seven series: 1) Correspondence; 2) Financial records and reports; 3) Planning committee minutes; 4) San Francisco Recreation Commission; 5) Concerts; 6) Scrapbooks; and 7) Photographs. Some correspondence related to specific financial records is filed with Financial records and reports (Series 2); and some programs documenting specific concerts can be found in Scrapbooks (Series 6). Within each series, materials are arranged in chronological order.

    Administrative History

    In 1931 Rosalie Meyer Stern purchased a historic parcel of land situated at the intersection of Sloat Boulevard and 19th Avenue in the southwestern portion of San Francisco. This twelve-acre tract was the only undeveloped area left on the former 160-acre Greene family ranch, homesteaded in 1849. Located on the property was the Trocadero Inn, built in 1892. The inn enjoyed a reputation during the 1890s as a fashionable recreation and picnic spot for prominent San Franciscans. The Trocadero, as it was then called, offered such diversions as fishing and boating on a spring-fed lake, as well as food and lodging. By 1906, however, the inn began to lose its appeal and gradually acquired an unsavory reputation. The inn finally closed in 1916 and it was not until Rosalie Stern purchased the ranch that the inn regained its original splendor.
    Because of her long involvement in the city's recreational program, Mrs. Stern established the Sigmund Stern Recreational Fund in memory of her husband. Under the auspices of this organization, she offered her newly acquired property to the City of San Francisco as a recreational facility. The donation, however, was contingent upon acceptance of several conditions by the City concerning the future use of the park. These stipulations were: (1) that the land be used solely and exclusively for recreational purposes; (2) that the land be under the jurisdiction and control of the Playground Commission of San Francisco (Mrs. Stern was president of this commission for many years); and (3) that, if the land ever ceased to be used for recreational activities, the property would revert back to the Sigmund Stern Recreational Fund.
    Mrs. Stern and the five trustees of the Sigmund Stern Recreation Fund also made two requests of the City: that the recreational activities to be conducted on the land should include music, dramatics, and pageantry; and that the Playground Commission (later the Recreation Department) consult with the Trustees of the Fund concerning the general scope and character of the recreational activities to be conducted on the property. The City of San Francisco, under direction of Mayor Angelo Rossi, agreed to accept both the land and the criteria under which it was offered. The result was a city-owned and operated park in which music, dramatic productions, and dance were staged under the sponsorship of the Stern Grove Recreational Fund. Under Rosalie Stern's guidance, the Fund underwrote the cost of these productions at the Grove's outdoor stage. The stage itself, situated in a natural amphitheatre-like valley on the property, had been designed at Mrs. Stern's request by architect William Merchant, Bernard Maybeck's partner.
    June 4, 1932 marked the inauguration of Stern Grove and the first formal concert was given fifteen days later. By the summer of 1938, the popularity of concerts in the Grove led Rosalie Stern and the Board of Trustees of the Fund to sponsor a concert series called the Midsummer Musicals. The series, consisting of twelve programs given every Sunday between July and September, ranged from orchestral music to jazz. This first summer concert series was highly successful with over 4,000 in attendance per concert. The Midsummer series has been produced by the Stern Grove Festival Association every summer since 1938.
    In 1940, Rosalie Stern organized the Allied Relief Benefit Concert to help raise funds for Great Britain's war effort. Famed conductor Bruno Walter and singer Kerstin Thorborg performed. The concert was highly successful and prominent San Franciscans donated over $6,000. During the difficult years of the Depression, a concerned Mrs. Stern utilized the services of numerous unemployed musicians. She also encouraged the use of WPA workers to help with the initial landscaping of Stern Grove.
    By 1942, the Sigmund Stern Recreation Fund was incorporated as a nonprofit California corporation under the name of the Sigmund Stern Grove Musical Festival Committee. The organization's name was changed to the Sigmund Stern Grove Music Festival Association in August of 1944, and to its present form, the Stern Grove Music Festival Association, on March 18, 1959.
    The summer concert series has attracted a number of prominent artists, including Bruno Walter, Isaac Stern, Arthur Fiedler, Pete Seeger, and the Preservation Jazz Band. Until her death in 1956, Rosalie Stern not only coordinated and arranged these concerts, but, as President of the Trustees of the Fund, either personally financed or raised the money to fund every concert series since 1938. Following her death, her daughter Elise Haas (whose name often appears in the collection as Mrs. Walter A. Haas) assumed this responsibility. By 1963, the complexity of scheduling, finances, and publicity resulted in the hiring of Lucy Eastlund as Executive Secretary. Elise Haas and her secretary, along with the Board of Trustees, ran the organization until the early 1970s, at which time the presidency was transferred to Mrs. Haas' daughter Rhoda Goldman (Rhoda F. Haas).

    Scope and Contents

    The collection consists of correspondence; financial records and reports; planing committee minutes; San Francisco Recreation Commission records; concert records, programs, and posters; scrapbooks containing newspaper clippings and ephemera; and photographs, all of which were created or collected by the Stern Grove Festival Association (SGFA) between the years 1931 and 1984. Collection materials document the inception, administration, and activities of the SGFA, and the history of the open-air concerts produced by the organization in San Francisco since 1932. Significant figures represented include past SGFA presidents Rosalie Meyer Stern, Elise S. Haas, and Rhoda H. Goldman; San Francisco Superintendent of Recreation Josephine D. Randall; and conductor Arthur Fielder.
    Correspondence (Series 1, 1932-1984) includes letters between festival organizers and musicians, conductors, performers, agents, dance and theatre companies, and the San Francisco Musicians Union, Local 6; as well as letters documenting fundraising activities and support from individuals and corporations. Significant correspondents include photographer Ansel Adams and festival performers such as conductor Arthur Fiedler.
    Financial records and reports (Series 2, 1932-1984) comprise SGFA season reports and weekly records, records of disbursement of funds and concert revenues, and donation information. This series also contains correspondence about finances. Planning Committee minutes (Series 3, 1938-1984) contain the minutes of the SGFA board and provide detailed information about festival policy and planning issues, finances, and performances.
    The Concerts series (Series 5, 1932-1984) includes broadsides, posters, and other material created to promote specific concerts, along with programs, reports, and newspaper clippings documenting the events. Significant performers represented in this series include conductors Pierre Monteux and Arthur Fiedler; founder of the San Francisco Opera, Gaetano Merola; and founder of the San Francisco Municipal Chorus, Hans Lescke. Sixteen scrapbooks (Series 6, 1932-1972) contain newspaper clippings from the San Francisco Chronicle and San Francisco Examiner about the summer concert series, in addition to some concert programs.
    The collection also includes records of the San Francisco Recreation Commission (Series 4, 1932-1941), which were not produced directly by the Stern Grove Festival Association, but relate to the SGFA through Rosalie Stern's work as President of the Commission (Mrs. Stern presided over both organizations concurrently). These records consist of correspondence with various city officials, including letters by Josephine D. Randall, who was a significant figure in the development of the San Francisco park system. Minutes of the Recreation Commission are also included and outline Mrs. Stern's efforts to expand the San Francisco parks and recreation program.
    Photographs (Series 7, 1946-1983) mostly consist of professional photographs of Stern Grove performances. Some of these pictures were published in the San Francisco Chronicle and San Francisco Examiner; others were taken by Gabriel Moulin Studios. Snapshots of concerts and a Stern family studio portrait are also included.
    In addition to the records of the SGFA, the collection contains a folder of secondary material documenting the history of the Association, including an article about Rosalie Meyer Stern (photocopied from the California Historical Society Quarterly, Vol. 35, No. 2, pp. 184-187); several papers describing the growth and development of Stern Grove and the summer concert series; and an essay titled, "The History Apertaining to Trocodero."

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog:
    Fielder, Arthur, 1894-1979.
    Gabriel Moulin Studios.
    Goldman, Rhoda H., d. 1996.
    Haas, Elise S. , 1893-1990.
    Randall, Josephine D.
    San Francisco (Calif.). Recreation Commission.
    San Francisco Ballet.
    San Francisco Symphony Orchestra.
    Stern, Rosalie Meyer, 1869-1956.
    Concerts--California--San Francisco.
    Parks--California--San Francisco.
    Financial records.
    Programs.
    Scrapbooks.

    Indexing Terms

    This index is derived from a list of added entries in the legacy finding aid for the Stern Grove Festival Association records. Names and subject headings are unauthorized.
    1. Alder, Kurt Herbert
    2. Albert, Alexander
    3. Allen, William Duncan
    4. Arrieta, Marti
    5. Bender, Albert M.
    6. Bissinger, Paul S.
    7. Boone, Philip S.
    8. Brakebill, Harry
    9. Bruce, Starr
    10. Caverly, Joseph M.
    11. Chamberlain, Selah
    12. Concerts
    13. Cox, Mary Elenor
    14. Donnell, Mrs. Dewey
    15. Glenn Dr.
    16. Eastlund, Elizabeth F. (Lisa)
    17. Elkus, Albert I, Professor
    18. Escabosa, Hector
    19. Friedman, James
    20. Funke, Max G.
    21. Garcia, Alfred B.
    22. Ghirardelli, D. Lyle
    23. Goldman, Rhoda H.
    24. Haas, Elise F.
    25. Haas, Peter E.
    26. Haas, Walter A.
    27. Haas, Walter A. Jr.
    28. Hare, Nathan
    29. Harris, Thomas
    30. Heller, Elizabeth
    31. Johns, Roy C.
    32. Jorda, Enrique
    33. Joseph, Sydney Mrs.
    34. Kendrick, Charles
    35. Koshland, Marcus S.
    36. Koshland, Daniel E.
    37. Kimbell, Raymond
    38. Knuth, William Dr.
    39. Lilienthal, Philip N. Jr.
    40. Lilienthal, Ruth Haas
    41. Lewis, David E.
    42. Lyckfors, Erik K.
    43. McDevitt, Edward
    44. McKanna, J Fenton Dr.
    45. McKinnon, Katherine Duer Stoney
    46. Meade, William
    47. Merchant, William Gladstone
    48. Merola, Gaetano
    49. Meyer, Otto E.
    50. Middione, Lisa Eastlund
    51. Mid-Summer Music Festival
    52. Miller, Robert Watt
    53. Molnar, Ferenc
    54. Moore, Joseph A. Jr.
    55. Mosgrove, Alicia
    56. Mulcrevy, Dorothy
    57. Murry, Earl Bernard
    58. Music festivals
    59. Musicians Union, Local No. 6
    60. Nathe, Al H.
    61. Operas
    62. Oppenheimer, Selby C. Mrs.
    63. Orrick, William H., Jr.
    64. Parks-San Francisco
    65. Ozawa, Seiji
    66. Parr, Fred D.
    67. Pilcher, Will
    68. Plant, David N.
    69. Powell, Stanley
    70. Randall, Josephine D.
    71. Rossi, Angelo J.
    72. Roth, William M.
    73. Russell, Mrs. Hass
    74. Salkind, Milton
    75. San Francisco Ballet
    76. San Francisco Recreation Commission
    77. San Francisco Recreation Department
    78. San Francisco Youth Symphony Association
    79. Sanguinetti, Alfred
    80. Scafidi, Joseph
    81. Schwabacher, James H., Jr.
    82. Simon, Louis F.
    83. Skinner, Howard K.
    84. Sorenson, Kurt D.
    85. Stern, Rosalie Meyer
    86. Theater, Open Air-San Francisco
    87. Thompson, Jean
    88. Trefethen, E. E., Jr.
    89. Trocadero Inn-San Francisco
    90. Watt, Mrs. Robert
    91. Weil, Michel D.
    92. White, Albert
    93. Wollenberg, Lucile