Information for Researchers
Scope and Content of Collection
Collection Title: George C. Pardee Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1857-1941
Collection Number: BANC MSS C-B 400
Pardee, George C. (George Cooper)
Number of containers: 124 boxes, 18 cartons, 34 volumes, 3 oversize folders
Linear feet: 48 linear feet
The Bancroft Library.
Berkeley, California 94720-6000
Abstract: The George Cooper Pardee Papers, 1871-1968, contain materials documenting Pardee's political career as governor of California,
his role as governor in overseeing relief efforts following the Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906, and his
interests in conservation, forestry, and irrigation in California. The collection consists primarily of correspondence.
Other types of records include petitions and applications for appointment to state positions, newspaper clippings, personal
receipts and invoices, various reports and studies, and speeches and articles written by Pardee. Although the collection
contains materials dating from 1871-1968, the bulk of the materials range from 1902 to 1906.
Collection materials are in English.
Physical Location: Many of the Bancroft Library collections are stored offsite and advance notice may be required for use. For current information
on the location of these materials, please consult the library's online catalog.
Information for Researchers
Collection is open for research.
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.
[Identification of item], George C. Pardee Papers, BANC MSS C-B 400, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.
Title: George Cooper Pardee Papers,
Date: BANC MSS 82/8 c
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in
the library's online public access catalog.
Progressive Party (Calif.)
Republican Party (Calif.)
Conservation of natural resources--California.
San Francisco Earthquake, Calif., 1906.
Forests and forestry--California.
California--Politics and government.
The George C. Pardee Papers were given to The Bancroft Library by George C. Pardee in April 1939. Additions were made by
the Pardee family in 1969, 1976, and 1981.
Processed by History Associates, Incorporated in 2004.
George Cooper Pardee, twenty-first governor of California (1903-1907), was born in San Francisco on July 25, 1857. His father,
Enoch Homer Pardee, was a prominent eye doctor and politician, who served as mayor of Oakland, state senator, and state assemblyman.
George Pardee followed closely in his father's footsteps, becoming an eye doctor in San Francisco and mayor of Oakland. Unlike
his father, he did not serve in the state legislature in Sacramento; however he was elected governor of California in 1902.
As governor he fought for many progressive ideas including conservation, irrigation, civil service reform, and better pay
for public school teachers.
Excepting the time he spent in Germany earning his medical degree and the time he spent in the Governor's Mansion in Sacramento
as the first of thirteen governors to live there, he spent the rest of his life in the family home in Oakland. Pardee's family
moved to the house on Eleventh Street in Oakland shortly after the 1868 earthquake on the Hayward Fault. Pardee graduated
from Oakland High School in 1875. In 1879, he graduated from the University of California. He then spent two years at Cooper
Medical College in San Francisco, followed by study at the University of Leipzig in Germany where he earned his medical degree
On his return to California in 1885 he joined his father's practice, specializing in diseases of the eye and the ear. He
began his political career in local Oakland politics, where he served as a member of the Oakland Board of Health (1889-1891)
and as a member of the Oakland City Council (1891-1893). He served as mayor of Oakland from 1893-1895. In 1898, he became
a candidate for governor. Pardee failed to win the Republican nomination in 1898. From 1899 to 1903 he served as a University
of California regent. In 1902, Pardee sought and won the nomination as the Republican candidate for governor. After a hard-fought
campaign against Democratic nominee Franklin K. Lane, Pardee was inaugurated as the 21st Governor of California on January
7, 1903. Pardee was the first California native to become governor since statehood.
Governor Pardee is best known as the "earthquake governor." In 1906, the Great San Francisco Earthquake and resulting fire,
one of the most devastating natural disasters in the history of the United States, caused an estimated 3,000 deaths and $524
million in property losses (in 1906 dollars). Following the disaster, Governor Pardee spent six weeks in Oakland at Oakland
City Hall directly overseeing relief efforts, soliciting aid from public and private sources, and organizing the state militia
to restore law and order. Because of these efforts Pardee received universal praise for his remarkable leadership during
the worst tragedy in California history.
Despite his record, Pardee did not receive his party's nomination for a second term. Many believe that because of his refusal
to side with either the "Railroad Republicans" or the "Reform Republicans," neither faction was willing to support him. He
angered the Southern Pacific Railroad leadership by fighting with them over control of the Oakland waterfront and encouraging
the development of a new, competing railroad company. His refusal to side with the railroad monopoly in his political decisions
especially turned the party against him. Without the backing of the powerful Southern Pacific, Pardee's chances for renomination
Following his departure from the governor's office Pardee returned to his medical practice, but devoted much of his time to
politics and conservation. Pardee was one of the most important early conservationists in the nation. While studying in
Germany, Pardee was exposed to conservation efforts that influenced his support of conservation measures both as Governor
of California and later in his life. In 1907, Pardee served as a member of the National Conservation Commission (1907-1908).
In 1911, he was appointed chairman of the California Conservation Commission (1911-1915), created under Governor Johnson for
the protection and development of forest and water resources. In 1919, he became chairman of the State Board of Forestry
(1919-1923). In 1923, he resigned in protest against radical budget cuts by Governor Richardson, but accepted the post again
in 1928 under Governor Young. In 1924, he became President of the Board of Directors of the East Bay Municipal Utilities
District (1924-1941), and in 1930 he was named chairman of the California Joint Federal-State Water Resources Commission.
In addition to these activities, Pardee was involved in civic affairs and belonged to many organizations including the Sierra
Club, Bohemian Club, Native Sons of the Golden West, and the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.
Governor and Mrs. Pardee (Helen Penniman, 1857-1947) met while attending Oakland High School. They lost two of their four
daughters at early ages. Governor Pardee died on September 1, 1941 in Oakland and was buried at Oakland's Mountain View Cemetery.
Helen Pardee died six years later.
Portions of the biographical sketch were excerpted from Alastair Dallas's Web site, "Governors of California," http://www.infospect.com/Governors.htm
(accessed June 15, 2004); Pardee Home Museum, http://www.pardeehome.org (accessed June 15, 2004); and the State of California
Web site, http://www.governor.ca.gov (accessed June 15, 2004).
Scope and Content of Collection
The George Cooper Pardee Papers, 1871-1968, contain materials documenting Pardee's political career as governor of California,
his role as governor in overseeing relief efforts following the Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906, and his interests
in conservation, forestry, and irrigation in California. The collection consists primarily of correspondence. Other types
of records include petitions and applications for appointment to state positions, newspaper clippings, personal receipts and
invoices, various reports and studies, and speeches and articles written by Pardee. Although the collection contains materials
dating from 1871-1968, the bulk of the materials range from 1902 to 1906.
Series 1: Correspondence is the largest series in this collection and includes incoming and outgoing correspondence. Pardee's
correspondence primarily consists of correspondence to and from individuals and organizations regarding politics and his term
as governor, including his failed attempt to receive the Republican Party's nomination for the 1898 gubernatorial election.
This series also contains correspondence related to the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906, including letters pertaining
to criminal actions by members of the National Guard while stationed in San Francisco. Pardee's correspondents included Theodore
Roosevelt and Elihu Root (Secretary of War).
Series 4: The Appointments Application File is the second largest series in this collection. This series contains applications
by individuals to Governor Pardee for state appointive positions. Included are petitions and correspondence both for and against
individual applications. Positions include judgeships, inspectors, directors of state departments and institutions, and other
state appointed positions.
The next largest series is the Subject File series (8). This series contains newspaper and magazine clippings, pamphlets,
correspondence, and three "4x6" card file boxes containing an appointments index, notary index, pardons index, and library
card file. Also included in this series are judgeship appointments, records for the East Bay Municipal Utility District (including
information on its formation and history), and records pertaining to Pardee's gubernatorial campaigns. Of particular interest
are materials related to conservation issues, such as forestry and irrigation. Included are six issues of "Water and Forest
Series 3: The Earthquake File, documents the response by the governor's office to the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of
April 1906. Included in this series are newspaper clippings, aid and employment offers, relief fund information (including
receipts and correspondence), requests for passes into San Francisco, and various reports, speeches, and articles pertaining
to the administration of relief efforts.
The Receipts and Invoices series (5) contains non-governmental invoices and receipts. The majority of the invoices and receipts
relate to Pardee's real estate and rental income, as well as his organizational membership dues.
The Speeches and Articles series (7) contains speeches and articles written by Pardee pertaining to a variety of issues and
occasions. These include campaign speeches, holiday and celebration speeches, addresses to the California legislature, and
speeches concerning political corruption, forests, and water conservation.
The remaining three series are Series 2: Biographical Materials, Series 6: Reports and Studies, and Series 9: Pardee Scrapbooks.
The most notable biographical materials pertain to the death of Enoch Homer Pardee (Pardee's father) and the disposition of
his estate. The series also includes biographical statements about Pardee, and a portrait engraving plate of Pardee. The
Reports and Studies series includes reports by the California Conservation Commission, the Pilot Commissioners, the State
Board of Examiners, and the United States Geological Survey. The Pardee Scrapbooks were created between 1903 and 1906, during
Pardee's term as governor of California and contain newspaper clippings concerning such topics as agriculture, the San Francisco
Earthquake and Fire of 1906, forests, irrigation, public health, railroads, political scandal, political news, and Yosemite