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Finding Aid for the Ivan J. Houston papers, 1880-2009
1866  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Ivan J. Houston papers
    Date (inclusive): 1880-2009
    Collection number: 1866
    Creator: Houston, Ivan J.
    Extent: 27 boxes (12.25 linear ft.) 4 oversized boxes.
    Abstract: Ivan J. Houston was born in Los Angeles, California in 1925. He worked at Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company for forty years, including at the executive level when he became the company's President and CEO in 1970 and Chairman in 1980, a position he held until his retirement in 1990. In 1943 he enlisted in the Army and in 1944 he was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 370th Infantry Regiment Combat Team, 92nd Infantry Division of the U.S. Fifth Army, also known as the Buffalo Soldiers. Houston's battalion journal became the basis for the memoir he published in 2009, Black Warriors: The Buffalo Soldiers of World War II. The collection consists of documentation of Houston's World War II service; records of his tenure with Golden State Mutual Life Insurance; materials related to the creation of Black Warriors; various periodicals, programs and annual reports which feature Houston as well as Houston's personal papers, photos and slides including materials related to his father, Norman O. Houston and his mother, Doris Talbot Young.
    Language: Finding aid is written in English.
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library Special Collections.
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
    Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact the UCLA Library Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.

    Administrative Information

    Restrictions on Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Open for research. Advance notice required for access. Contact the UCLA Library Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    Property rights to the physical object belong to the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Ivan J. Houston, 2010.

    Processing Note

    Processed by Kelly Besser in the Center for Primary Research and Training (CFPRT), with assistance from Megan Hahn Fraser, 2011.
    The processing of this collection was generously supported by Arcadia   funds.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Ivan J. Houston papers (Collection Number 1866). Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.

    Biography

    Ivan J. Houston was born in Los Angeles, California in 1925. That same year, Houston's father, businessman Norman O. Houston helped organize Golden State Mutual Life Insurance, one of the largest historically black-owned companies in the country - a company Houston would head over four decades later.
    After graduating from L.A.'s Polytechnic High School in 1942, Houston entered the University of California at Berkeley - also his father's alma mater. A track star in high school, Houston lettered in track as a freshman, and also boxed. However, at this time the country was also engaged in World War II, so in 1943 he left Berkeley and enlisted in the Army.
    Though the U.S. Armed Forces were still segregated, Houston was sent to the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) that was actually integrated and only included those who were college students or graduates. In March of 1944, the Army announced the shutdown of the ASTP and Houston was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 370th Infantry Regiment Combat Team, 92nd Infantry Division of the U.S. Fifth Army also known as the Buffalo Soldiers. The 3rd Battalion became the first African American infantry unit to engage in combat against Hitler's Nazi Germany in World War II. Houston was discharged in December 1945 as Battalion Sergeant Major.
    After the war, Houston married Philippa E. Jones, and he returned to UC Berkeley in the spring of 1946. Houston graduated in February 1948, with a B.S. from the School of Business Administration (now the Walter A. Haas School of Business). Houston then attended the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, to study actuarial science.
    In 1948, Houston became an accountant at Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company (GSM). After working in several other capacities, including at the executive level, Houston became the company's President and CEO in 1970. In 1980, Houston was also elected as Chairman, a position he held until his retirement in 1990. Under his leadership, Golden State became the third largest black-owned financial services enterprise in the United States.
    Also, throughout his tenure at GSM, Houston had the opportunity to meet many historic figures including: Mayor Tom Bradley, President Jimmy Carter, and Dr. Martin Luther King. Houston met King in 1965 during the effort to resolve the Watts Riots aftermath, when Houston allowed him and other civic and elected leaders to conduct meetings at the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Building.
    Acclaimed for his business acumen, Houston served as a director for other companies ranging from Fortune 500 corporations to regional and state businesses. The companies included: Daniel Freeman Hospitals; First Interstate Bank (now Wells Fargo); Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation; Metromedia; North America Produce, Inc.; Pacific Indemnity Company; and Pacific Telesis Group/Pacific Bell (now AT&T ).
    Houston was named one of Harvard Business School's American Business Leaders of the 20th Century, and was inducted into UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business Hall of Fame as an alumnus. He was also featured in the Los Angeles Times, and listed on Ebony Magazine's "100 Most Influential Black Americans" for fourteen consecutive years, from 1976 to 1990. Houston, along with his wife, was featured in Time Magazine's June 17, 1974 cover story, "Middle-Class Blacks: Making it in America." In 1993, Pope John Paul II honored Houston as a Knight of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great for his meritorious service to the Church.
    Houston was a member and leader in numerous professional organizations, including: the American Academy of Actuaries, American Council of Life Insurance (board member) International Association of Black Actuaries, and the National Insurance Association (board member). He also sat on the Boards for the California Chamber of Commerce and the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.
    Houston provided leadership in civic affairs at the local, state and national level. He was president of the Los Angeles City Human Relations Commission and chaired the boards of the Los Angeles Urban League and the United Way of Los Angeles Central Region. h headed the Los Angeles chapter of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity also known as "The Boule."
    Houston is the author of Black Warriors: The Buffalo Soldiers of World War II, an account of his service in the Army.

    Scope and Content

    The collection consists of documentation of Houston's World War II service including copies of battalion journals, correspondence, photos, awards and memorabilia; records of his tenure with the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance company including correspondence, publications, photos, slides, and speeches; materials related to the creation of Black Warriors including interviews, research, notebooks, correspondence, drafts, photos, maps, speeches, and World War II Veterans Buffalo Association newsletters. The collection also contains various periodicals, programs and annual reports that feature Houston, as well as his personal papers, photos and slides including materials related to his father, Norman O. Houston and his mother, Doris Talbot Young. Files have been divided into series according to Houston's original order of the materials and into subseries according to primary genres as interpreted by the collection processor. Folder titles have been maintained from Houston's original titles and noted as such in the corresponding descriptions.

    Organization and Arrangement

    Arranged in the following series:
    1. World War II
      • Battalion journals
      • Correspondence
      • Photos
      • Awards and memorabilia
    2. Golden State Mutual
      • Correspondence
      • Photos and slides
      • Publicity and publications
      • National African Federated Chamber of Commerce (NAFCOC)
    3. Black Warriors
      • Correspondence
      • Drafts
      • Research and notebooks
      • Photos and maps
      • Buffalo soldier speeches
      • The Buffalo 92nd Infantry World War II Association
    4. Personal papers, photos and slides
      • Ivan J. Houston
      • Norman O. Houston
      • Talbot family
    5. Publications

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.

    Subjects

    Houston, Ivan J. --Archives.
    African American executives --California --Los Angeles --Archival resources.
    African American authors --California --Los Angeles --Archival resources.

    Related Material

    Black leadership in Los Angeles oral history transcript, 1986-1987 : Ivan J. Houston / interviewed by Ranford B. Hopkins.   [Los Angeles] : Oral History Program, University of California, Los Angeles, c1989.