Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Ben Yellen Correspondence with Charles L. Smith
Identifier/Call Number: MSS 0667
Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, California, 92093-0175
0.25 Linear feet
(1 archives box)
Date (inclusive): 1960 - 2006
The Ben Yellen correspondence with Charles L. Smith files contain mainly correspondence in the form of prescription-pad notes
(1960-1970s) from Yellen to Smith regarding water rights in Imperial County (Calif.), writings and lists (1970-1999) created
by Smith about Yellen, and a small amount of miscellaneous materials such as notes and newspaper articles regarding the Imperial
Yellen, Ben, 1907-1994
Ben Yellen Correspondence with Charles L. Smith, MSS 0667. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego.
Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.
Charles L. Smith, of Berkeley, California, was a self-described "sympathetic fellow pamphleteer" and self-appointed bibliographer,
who worked for the Planning Department at the Division of Highways (now Caltrans). In the 1960s, he first became acquainted
with Yellen, an activist physician pamphleteer of the Imperial Valley, California, when Smith was working on a bibliography
on rural water use and the 160 acre water limitation law. This law would later figure prominently in Yellen's lawsuits involving
the Imperial Irrigation District. As part of Smith's work duties, he would read newspapers looking for local discussion of
transportation projects, and during lunchtimes, would review these same newspapers for other items of interest to himself
and to Yellen. He would send Yellen newspaper clippings or obtain and ship article reprints to Yellen via Greyhound Express
and Yellen would reimburse him.
After Yellen's death in 1994, as a demonstration of Smith's admiration for Yellen's quest for justice, Smith attempted to
get a statue dedicated to Yellen and worked to preserve his accomplishments. Smith collected correspondence that Yellen sent
to him on small prescription-pad note paper that spanned two decades (1960-1970s), wrote essays critiquing Dr. Yellen's pamphleteering
methods, prepared lists of articles about Yellen, and sent copies of Yellen's newsletters to various archives.
Ben Yellen Papers (MSS 193); Ben Yellen Correspondence with Arthur Brunwasser (MSS 305); Yellen Versus Imperial Irrigation
District Collection (MSS 677).
Scope and Content of Collection
The files contain mainly correspondence in the form of prescription-pad notes from Yellen to Smith regarding articles and
reprints that Smith would procure for Yellen and ship to Brawley, California, for Yellen's use. Also included are writings
and lists by Smith about Yellen, and newspaper articles on subjects of interest to both men. The files are arranged in four
series: 1) CORRESPONDENCE, 2) WRITINGS, 3) MISCELLANEOUS MATERIALS, and 4) ORIGINALS OF PRESERVATION PHOTOCOPIES.
SERIES 1: CORRESPONDENCE
Letters from and to Dr. Ben Yellen, much of which consists of small prescription-pad notes (1960-1970s) to Smith from Yellen,
often requesting reprints of newspaper articles that Smith had discovered. In addition, there are samples of typical Yellen
correspondence; to then U.S. president-elect William Jefferson Clinton, a letter to the "Dear Abby" newspaper column, a "Voice
of the People" letter to the editor, as well as some correspondence by Smith to others concerning Yellen. The files are arranged
alphabetically by correspondent.
SERIES 2: WRITINGS
Includes a typescript of the flyer/mailer Smith sent out advocating for a statue of Yellen to be placed in either Brawley,
El Centro, or at the University of California, San Diego; lists entitled, "Newsletters of Dr. Ben Yellen, 1971-1991" [missing
page two]; "Ben Yellen Articles by Lynn Ludlow" (former editor and retired journalist with the SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER); "Articles
about Dr. Ben Yellen" (featuring a variety of newspapers); and typescript essays entitled, "The Saga of Dr. Ben Yellen, M.D.
and Prof. Paul Taylor;" [Paul Taylor was an economics professor at UC Berkeley, and husband of photographer Dorothea Lange,
who became absorbed in California water issues] and "A Critique of Dr. Ben Yellen's Pamphlets." The files are arranged alphabetically
SERIES 3: MISCELLANEOUS MATERIALS
A small amount of handwritten and typescript notes and newspaper articles on subjects Smith and Yellen were interested in
such as a documentary on the Salton Sea and unconventional journalists in Mexico.
SERIES 4: ORIGINALS OF PRESERVATION PHOTOCOPIES
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Desert Growers Association.
Imperial Irrigation District (Calif.).
Smith, Charles L. -- Correspondence
Yellen, Ben, 1907-1994 -- Archives
Imperial County (Calif.)
Imperial Valley (Calif. and Mexico)
Irrigation water -- California, Southern
Water resources development -- California, Southern -- Finance
Water rights -- California, Southern -- History
Water transfer -- California, Southern
Water-supply -- California, Southern