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Ben Yellen Correspondence with Charles L. Smith
MSS 0667  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Acquisition Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Publication Rights
  • Biography
  • Related Materials
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Ben Yellen Correspondence with Charles L. Smith
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS 0667
    Contributing Institution: Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego
    9500 Gilman Drive
    La Jolla, California, 92093-0175
    Languages: English
    Physical Description: 0.25 Linear feet (1 archives box)
    Date (inclusive): 1960 - 2006
    Abstract: 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 Valley.
    Creator: Yellen, Ben, 1907-1994

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired 2007.

    Preferred Citation

    Ben Yellen Correspondence with Charles L. Smith, MSS 0667. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego.

    Publication Rights

    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.

    Related Materials

    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.
    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.
    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 by title.
    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.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Desert Growers Association.
    Imperial Irrigation District (Calif.).
    Smith, Charles L. -- Correspondence
    Yellen, Ben, 1907-1994 -- Archives
    Brawley (Calif.)
    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