Overview of the Collection
Arrangement of Materials:
Scope and Contents
Overview of the Collection
Collection Title: Hotel del Coronado Records
Bulk Dates: 1888-1935
Hotel del Coronado
Physical Description: 55.00 linear ft
Alternate Extent Statement: 303 volumes, 15 boxes
Language of Materials:
Special Collections & University Archives
5500 Campanile Dr. MC 8050
San Diego, CA, 92182-8050
An index to the first four years of correspondence (1883-1892) is available as a large, keyword-searchable PDF file here:
The Hotel del Coronado has been a noted landmark in the history of Coronado and the greater San Diego area since its groundbreaking,
and has been a National Historic Landmark since 1977. Beginning with two visionary men, Elijah Babcock and H.L. Story, the
mission to build one of the greatest hotel resorts in the world became a reality. Since its opening in 1888, the Hotel del
Coronado has become a world-renowned destination. From the use of early cutting edge technologies (such as providing guests
with telephone service and electricity), to its ideal atmosphere for entertaining, to its Victorian elegance and charm, the
Hotel del Coronado is truly one of a kind. The Hotel del Coronado has touched the lives of most San Diegans, and has attracted
numerous notable names throughout the world including Presidents Benjamin Harrison and Richard Nixon, world dignitaries, movie
stars, and other world figures such as Charles Lindberg.
The Hotel del Coronado has had a number of owners throughout its history, including Elijah S. Babcock, Hampton Story, John
D. Spreckels, John Alessio, and Larry Lawrence. The Coronado Beach Company was created to help fund the construction of the
Hotel, and continued to own many of the facilities available to the public after the Hotel was completed, as can be seen in
the records of the Hotel del Coronado which detail dealings with services such as waterways to railroads.
The Hotel del Coronado has a rich history from its amazingly quick construction, its illustrious guest list, and its reputation
for excellence as a Hotel.
This collection is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.
Hotel del Coronado (Coronado, Calif.)
Hotel del Coronado (Coronado, Calif.) -- Archives
Hotel del Coronado (Coronado, Calif.) -- History -- Sources
Genre/Form of Material:
Coronado (Calif.) -- History -- Sources
Coronado (Calif.) -- Social life and customs
San Diego (Calif.) -- History
Hotels -- California -- Coronado -- History -- Sources
Hotels -- Coronado (Calif.)
Conditions Governing Use:
The copyright interests in some of these materials have been transferred to or belong to San Diego State University. The nature
of historical archival and manuscript collections means that copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine.
Copyright resides with the creators of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. Requests for permission to publish
must be submitted to the Head of Special Collections, San Diego State University, Library and Information Access. Permissions
is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical item and is not intended to include or imply permission
of the copyright holder(s), which must also be obtained in order to publish. Materials from our collections are made available
for use in research, teaching, and private study. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including
but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials.
Conditions Governing Access:
This collection is open for research.
Identification of item, folder title, box number, Hotel del Coronado Records, Special Collections and University Archives,
Library and Information Access, San Diego State University.
San Diego Photograph Collection
San Diego Memorabilia Collection
John and Jane Adams Postcard Collection
Louise Patterson Scrapbook
Arrangement of Materials:
I. Bound Correspondence, 1888-1907
II. Guest Registers, 1888-1926
III. Room Books, 1888-1905
IV. Reservation Records, 1901-1910
V. Room Books of Guests’ Hometowns, 1898-1931
VI. Mail Books, 1900-1932
VII. Mailing Lists, 1890-1903
VIII. Miscellaneous Guest Records, 1893-1931
IX. Boarder’s Ledgers, 1892-1905
X. Room Books of Financial Records, 1904-1953
XI. Miscellany, 1900-1925
XII. Coronado Tent City, 1917-1928
XIII. Coronado Country Club, 1912-1930
XIV. Scrapbooks, 1903-1970
XV. Photographs, 1840-1973
XVI. Incoming Correspondence, 1911
XVII. Hotel Renovations, 1918-1943
XVIII. Hotel del Coronado Dining, 1888-1979
XIX. Miscellaneous Boxed Materials, 1920-1978
XX. Newspaper Clippings, 1922-1998
XXII. Preservation Media
Scope and Contents
Please note that the first fourteen series of this collection are bound volumes. The remaining series consist of boxes of
The collection is organized into the following series:
Bound Correspondence, 1888-1907
The bound correspondence of this collection consists of copies of outgoing letters on onion skin paper and are mostly type
written and signed, although a few volumes are almost entirely handwritten. All eighty-nine of the volumes contain a brief
index either categorized by recipients’ last name with the corresponding page number, or as many of the later volumes are,
by page number with the last name of the letters’ recipients.
The majority of the volumes of bound correspondence are copies of letters from the Hotel del Coronado’s President and Manager,
Elijah S. Babcock (1849-1922) and are mostly professional in content, thought there are a few letters which are labeled “personal.”
Beginning in 1904, we begin to see letters from the new Manager, Morgan Ross. The bound outgoing correspondence deals with
a variety of topics related to the management of the early Hotel del Coronado, including letters to personnel, the early San
Diego Water Company, the building of the Otay dam, streetlights, the Coronado ferry, and the Coronado Railway, as well as
letters to guests about reservations and Hotel promotion throughout the country.
Guest Registers, 1888-1926
These registers are mostly oversized volumes which contain guests’ signatures, dates and room numbers dating from January
29, 1888 through August 23, 1926. These registers vary in appearance as some contain an appendix to other hotels in the United
States titled, “American Hotel Register Company’s Hotel Guide” and others contain stamped and guild advertisements from various
shops and services in San Diego (for example, “Prof. G.A. Williams, Ladies Hair Dresser, Wig Maker, Manicure, Chiropodist,
Face Massage and Steaming, Superfluous Hair Removed by Electricity 859 Fifth Street”). Also included are advertisements for
the Ostrich Farm on Coronado beach. Some of the later volumes contain pages of advertisements throughout the sign-in pages.
The earlier registers are under the manager John B. Seghers, Jr. but quickly change to E.S. Babcock and then to Morgan Ross.
Volume number 107 contains the signature of the famous Hotel del Coronado ghost, Kate Morgan. She signed in under the name
of “Miss Lottie A. Bernard” from Detroit, and was given Room 308 on November 24, 1892. In addition, this register series
houses volume 152 which on March 28, 1905 was signed by Henry James (1843-1916), the American writer known for such works
Portrait of a Lady.
Room Books, 1888-1905
Exact dates in this series are not always given, as the books are arranged as a large index in alphabetical order by guests’
last name. Each index letter entry has its own time span. Some of these books are almost entirely blank. This series contains
the same information as Series II Guest Registers, including name (though not a signature), the check in date, and room number.
However, in addition to the above information this series includes detailed descriptions of Hotel expenses, including laundry
services, telegram charges and wine. Some of the more famous guest who can be found in this series are Abercrombie and Fitch
who were checked in on October of 1890 in volume number 191, each under the corresponding first letter of their last name.
Volume number 193 contains a chart of hotel rates, “The ‘HW’ Hotel Rate Table for sale only by ‘The World Hotel,’ Chicago”
on the front pastedown of the book. Volume 198 contains “Southern California Coupons” with hotel rates posted in the front
cover. Also some of the books contain handwritten lists of discounts for services allowed to certain special guests, such
as boarders. In addition, volume 201 contains newspaper clippings about the train schedule.
Reservation Records, 1901-1910
This series of reservation books has handwritten entries organized in chronological order by dates with guests’ names, number
of persons in party, and room preferences, along with notes. Some of these volumes contain an index in the front, though
none of them have been filled out.
Volume number 209 contains European postcards and volume 210 on page 203 has evidence of “white-out” to cover ink. Though
there are few books in this series, they still provide insight into the daily management of the Hotel.
Room Books of Guests’ Hometowns, 1898-1931
This series contains guests’ names, room numbers, hometown and check-in and out dates in a large bound index. Some of the
volumes in this series also contain guests’ home address. Volume 216 is organized in alphabetical order by guests’ home state,
and volume 217 is organized in alphabetical order by guests’ home city. Each letter in the index has its own date span.
Mail Books, 1900-1932
These mail books are arranged as one large bound index in alphabetical order with dates, guests’ names and addresses or hotel
addresses where they can be reached or their mail forwarded to. Of note is that volume 218 contains a book plate in the front
cover which reads, “Coronado Stables Rates, In Effect February 18, 1901,” followed by corresponding rates. In addition, there
is also a handwritten paper pasted into the front cover with more rates dated “11/23/00” (that it “00” = 1900).
Mailing Lists, 1890-1903
This series contains information on guests’ home addresses. Volumes 221 and 222 are organized in a large index by guests’
last name including guests name, street and number, city, and state. Existing records of the collection note that volume
223 contains doctors’ names which correspond to those found in volume 224, with corresponding page numbers. Volume 224 is
organized as a large index and is labeled with: name, street no., city, state, Informant’s name, address, pamphlet, letter,
answer letter, and pamphlet again. Of note is that pasted inside the front cover of this volume is an alphabetical list of
the first few letters of last names with the corresponding page numbers. Volume 225 is organized much in the same way as
volume 224, although there is red ink used for writing the heading letters. Volume 225 also contains a piece of paper pasted
at the beginning of the book with directions on how to fill out the blank book.
Miscellaneous Guest Records, 1893-1931
Volume 226 of this series contains delinquent records of outstanding bills recorded in an index by delinquent’s last name.
Volume 227 contains departures and room changes and is organized by date and spans across the page to include room number,
departure, and number of persons in party, time, the room from which the guest is changing, a category labeled changes, and
the new room number. Volumes 228 and 229 are arranged in chronological order. Of note is that volumes 228 and 229 allow a
glimpse in to what foods people were eating at the Hotel del Coronado at the turn of the century as these contain bills for
food from grocers which include mushrooms, oatmeal, graham flour, pineapple, turkey, lettuce, spinach, cauliflower, green
peas, canned milk, cream, veal, onions, eggs, and powdered sugar. Each grocery list is organized by date and under the name
of the grocer.
Boarder’s Ledgers, 1892-1905
These volumes are arranged so that each entry spans across two pages and includes the following information: name, time of
arrival, number of room, rates, wine account, telegrams, meals sent to room, fires, sundry accounts, total credit, and remarks.
Some of the expenses listed for guests include laundry, drugs and baths as well. Volume 232 contains a paper pasted in the
front endpaper which lists various drinks such as Absinthe, Apricot Brandy, Bourbon Whiskey, Egg Lemonade, Gin and Whiskey
sours, Horkes Neck Cooler, Orangeade, and Rock & Rye Whiskey with each drink's corresponding price.
Room Books of Financial Records, 1904-1953
This series of financial records allows much research on the everyday administration of the Hotel del Coronado, including
how the Hotel spent its money, how many hours Hotel personnel worked and how much they were paid, as well as what daily life
was like for guests at the Hotel. Volume 238 includes cash receipts of expenses such as board, bar, billiards, slot machines
and bath house and volume 239 includes cash register tickets and ticket orders for things such as 25¢ movies, bar orders,
and billiards. Volume 233 is a ledger organized by guest name at the top of the page, then by date with a list of numbers
and payment types. Volume 234 a ledger, is arranged by date, then names and numbers and sums with expenses such as tea room,
laundry, and board. Volume 235 is an oversized ledger arranged by date while others such as volume 236 of accounts receivable
is organized as a large index and includes deposit accounts. Of note is that volume 237 is compiled of a list of vendors
including Pacific Laundry Dry Cleaners, and Allen’s Press Clipping, who is responsible for most of the newspaper clippings
found in the Hotel del Coronado Collection. Volume 240 is in the form of a large bound index in the front of the volume,
although it is almost entirely empty except for one loose leaf with information of slot machines. The rest of the volume
is comprised of copies of letters on onion skin paper which provide information on Tent City café and band, as well as Hotel
del Coronado “Monthly Statement of Earnings and Expenses.” The cover of this volume is labeled “Statement Reports and Exhibits.”
This miscellany series consists of a log book, a lost and found book, two Bell Boys’ records books, and a laundry record book.
Of note is that pasted on the cover of volume 256 laundry record book is a listing of employee discounts for laundry services,
however, much of this volume is blank except for some writing on one of the front end pages which mentions Tent City Café,
and page 40 which is filled out. Similar to some of the other series, these materials provide information on the everyday
workings of the Hotel del Coronado.
Coronado Tent City, 1917-1928
The Coronado Tent City series consists of a general ledger, a cash book and an account book.
Coronado Country Club, 1912-1930
The Coronado Country Club series consists of a book of the Official Polo scores from 1912-1925, a book which contains resignation
of membership dating 1913-1920 which also includes some information on resigning members such as their membership date, and
This series is comprised of scrapbooks compiled by hotel staff. These are mostly comprised of clippings which reflect society
visits and activities at the Hotel, including announcements of notable visitors, menus, advertisements, and event invitations.
There are also some newspaper clippings relating to the filing of "some Like it Hot" starring Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon,
and Tony Curtis in 1958. Volume 265 apparently did not exist. Volume 271 is currently missing (6/26/2009). Volume 304 is blank.
This box consists of a collection of 110 photographs, of which the majority date to the 1880’s and early 1900’s, however there
are also numerous pictures commemorating the opening of the Coronado Bridge in1962 including pictures of the then California
Governor, Ronald Reagan, as well as a few photographs dating to the 1970s. Older prints are business-trade postcard advertisements.
Many of the photographs contained in this collection have been copied as a print and are included in the same folder with
the original photograph. The subject of the photos varies, however they all have the common theme of the Hotel del or the
surrounding Coronado area. Included are scenery pictures of the lovely Pacific coast as well as pictures of the construction
and interior of the Hotel del Coronado, Tent City, the historic Coronado Methodist Church, as well as local homes and city
buildings of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in the early city of Coronado Beach.
Incoming Correspondence, 1911
The incoming correspondence found in Box 2 I and II is arranged alphabetically by sender’s last name; however, when there
are replies to the sender they are included next to the corresponding letter and are found in the folder under the sender’s
last name. Much of the content of the correspondence in Box 2 concerns payment of bills or requests for accommodations at
the Hotel del Coronado, guests’ lost personal items, and requests for forwarding guests’ mail. This box also includes 3 forwarding
address folders with no date which include the original index dividers.
Hotel Renovations, 1918-1943
This box consists of information on Hotel del Coronado upkeep and renovation. The first section is comprised of power plant
files which include subheadings such as "New Electrical Units," "Oil Separator," "Pipe Cutting Machinery,' and "Nash Vacuum
Hotel del Coronado Dining, 1888-1979
This series consists of information relating to dining at the Hotel del Coronado including holiday menus, invitations, and
programs. Daily reports and cookbooks are also included, which illustrate the day-to-day administration and finances of the
Miscellaneous Boxed Materials, 1920-1978
This series of miscellaneous boxed materials includes photocopies of the Prince of Wales' visit to the Hotel del in 1920,
an ink blotter with advertisements from a guest register from the early 1900s, parcel maps of the Hotel and surrounding areas,
and information on railroads, and other means of transportation.
Newspaper Clippings, 1922-1998
The newspaper clippings span in date through most of the twentieth century, the majority being in the 1950s and 1960s. These
newspaper clippings lend insight into the social history of the Hotel del Coronado. Topics include local events, wedding
announcements, and other celebrations which took place at the Hotel.
This series consists of microfilm copies of books 1-89, bound correspondence, of the Hotel del Coronado Records.