The Oliver Collection consists of approximately 2700 glass plate negatives and photographic prints taken mainly by amateur
photographer William Letts Oliver and his son Roland L. Oliver. The photographs date from the late 1800s to the early 1900s.
Subjects include maritime and yachting scenes, views of California and San Francisco Bay area, University of California at
Berkeley, mining, logging, the Bohemian Grove, and the Oliver family. Also of note are earlier photographs of Chile and Peru
dating from 1860 to 1867.
According to a written statement by his son Roland L. Oliver, William Letts Oliver "was born in Valparaiso, Chile, August
6, 1844. [He] was educated in Edinburgh, Scotland, graduated from Edinburgh University as a mining engineer, and then went
back to Chile. [In 1861, he went] to Peru, then to San Francisco in 1868 in time for the big earthquake of that year." His
experience with nitrates led him to establish the California Cap Company, an explosives business in the East Bay (of the San
Francisco Bay Area). In addition, he also owned a company that manufactured the Doak stationary engine used to power pumps
on horse-drawn fire engines. He resided Oakland until his death in 1918.
Copyright has not been assigned to The Bancroft Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts
must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Bancroft
Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which
must also be obtained by the reader.
Collection is open for research.