Workman Family Biography
Title: Workman family papers
Date (inclusive): 1881-1997
Collection number: CSLA-9
24 archival document boxes, 14 oversize boxes, 6 flat files in on emap case
Loyola Marymount University. William H. Hannon Library. Department of
Archives and Special Collections
Los Angeles, California 90045-8200
Abstract: These holdings consist of materials related to the life and
accomplishments of a leading Los Angeles family, the Workmans, influential in city
politics, social work, and prperty development.
Physical location: Research use requires both an advance notice of
intent to use the collection and an appointment. To schedule an appointment, please
contact the Department of Archives and Special Collection, William H. Hannon
Library, Loyola Marymount University: 310-338-2780, 310-338-5357.
Languages: Languages represented in the collection:English
Digitized collection materials available online.
This collection is part of the Center for the Study of Los Angeles Research
Collection, a program of the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los
Angeles, Loyola Marymount University. The Research Collection is administered by the
Department of Archives and Special Collections, Loyola Marymount University; the
Materials in the Department of Archives and Special Collections may be subject to
copyright. Unless explicitly stated otherwise, Loyola Marymount University does not
claim ownership of the copyright of any materials in its collections. The user or
publisher must secure permission to publish from the copyright owner. Loyola
Marymount University does not assume any responsibility for infringement of
copyright or of publication rights held by the original author or artists or his/her
heirs, assigns, or executors.
[item], Series title, box and folder numbers, Workman Family Papers, CSLA-9,
Department of Archives and Special Collections, William H. Hannon Library, Loyola
Gift of David A. Workman, 1999, 2001
Workman Family Biography
Tracing its residence in Los Angeles back to the mid-nineteenth century, the Workman
family holds a distinguished place in the city's history. Two brothers, David
(1798-1855) and William (1800-1876), originally from England, were the first
Workmans to settle in Los Angeles: David came from Missouri, and William from Taos,
New Mexico. Of their descendants, the following Workmans figure most prominently in
the collection: William H. Workman, the son of David, and his wife Maria Elizabeth;
their daughter Mary Julia Workman; her sister-in-law, Margaret Workman, wife of
Mary's brother Thomas.
William H. and Maria E. Workman
William H. Workman (1839-1918) would make his great mark in Los Angeles politics and
the development of the city infrastructure. The most important civic office that
William Workman held was mayor of Los Angeles, from 1887 to 1888, during which time
he investigated civic corruption in Los Angeles, had Fort (Broadway), Spring, Hill,
and Main streets paved, and supported the establishment of the city library. Workman
had served on the city council for much of the 1870s (1872-1874;1875-1880). As a
council member, he fought for, and won, a restriction of fifty years on the
management by the privtely-owned Los Angeles Water Company of the water rights of
the Los Angeles River. In 1875, William Workman paid the Los Angeles Water Company
to extend its services to Boyle Heights, thus ensuring a domestic water supply
there. He also persuaded fellow council members to permit the building of a conduit
bringing the water of the Elysian Hills to Boyle Heights for irrigation. These
improvements permitted William Workman's opening of Boyle Heights to real estate
sales, which led to the development of this important and historic segment of Los
Angeles east of the Los Angeles River.
William Workman was also instrumental in the building of street car lines in Los
Angeles, some of which would reach Boyle Heights. He led the fight to bring the
Southern Pacific Railroad, against considerable local opposition, to Los Angeles, a
link to the outside world that would help make the land booms of the 1880s possible.
As City Treasurer (1901-1907), he oversaw a general election for the building of the
Silver Lake Reservoir. During his term on the Park Commission, he donated two-thirds
of the land for Hollenbeck Park, a Los Angeles landmark. He also helped found the
Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.
He and Maria Elizabeth Boyle (1847-1933) married in 1867, joining two distinguished
Los Angeles families. Maria's family had settled in Boyle Heights before William
Workman's acquisitions there. A devout Roman Catholic, she received her education
from the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul and strongly supported the
Orphans' Fairs, an important charitable work, and was also active in the Catholic
Women's Club and the Women's Athletic Club.
Mary Julia Workman
William and Maria had seven children; of these Mary Julia Workman, born in 1871, was
especially notable. Although her father William was Protestant, Mary Workman was
reared in the Roman Catholic faith of her mother, receivine a Catholic education at
the Convent of the Sacred Heart of Mary and Jesus, in Oakland, from which she
graduated in 1890. In 1902 she completed studies in kindergarten teaching, at the
State Normal School in Los Angeles; Workman would teach in the city's public schools
During these years, because of her studies, Mary Workman became deeply influenced by
the ideals of American Progressivism. The fruit of this influence was manifested in
her leadership in the establishment of the Brownson House (1901), a landmark of the
settlement house philosophy on the West Coast and one of its stronger Roman Catholic
Active in Los Angeles civic affairs, she was a progressive advocating civil service,
which led to her presidency of the Los Angeles City Civil Service Commission
(1927-1928). Mary Workman also participated in other civic reform groups, such as
the Municipal Light and Power Defense League, which watched over city services, and
helped in the recall of corrupt Los Angeles mayor Frank Shaw, campaigning for reform
candidates John Anson Ford and Fletcher Bowron through such means as radio speeches.
Her work with the Democratic National Committee, Southern California Division,
involved her in Democratic politics in the Los Angeles area.
Part of the post-World War I movement for world peace, Workman vigorously labored for
the participation of the United States in the League of Nations. To this end, she
founded, and was an officer in, the Southern California chapter of the League of
Nations Association. Of a similar nature was her participation in the Catholic
Association for International Peace (CAIP), Southern California Committee, of which
she was secretary. The CAIP was intended to apply Christian ideals to the troubled
world politics of the post-war era; this application of Christian principles to
resolve international confilict clearly expresses Mary Workman's philosophy of
Underlying all her life's work was Mary Workman's Roman Catholic faith, a connection
vividly demonstrated in Pope Pius XI's grant of the papal medal
Pro Ecclesia et Pontificeto Mary Workman in 1926. The medal rewarded
Roman Catholics for their humanitarian work and, in Mary Workman's case, especially
recognized her contribution to the field of social work, but within the Roman
Catholic tradition. This was a signal honor for Workman, for she was the first woman
in the diocese of Los Angeles to receive this medal. Mary Workman died in 1964,
following complications from a broken hip.
Like her sister-in-law Mary Julia Workman, Margaret Kilgariff Workman (1902-1987)
achieved similar, notable accomplishments in social and philanthropic causes, often
working together on issues. Margaret was born into a well-known California family,
the Kilgariffs: her mother, Regina, was a suffragette and one of the first women on
the Democratic State Central Committee. In 1925, Margaret, after graduating from
college, married Thomas Edgar Workman (1890-1972), son of William H. and Maria E.
Workman. The couple would make their home in Los Angeles, where Margaret would
compile an outstanding record of service in social welfare, politics, and education.
Her membership on the board of the California Relief Commission (1935-1937) saw the
implementation of the New Deal in California. Margaret was a member of the
Citizens' Committeeheaded by Clifford
Clinton that was the key in toppling Frank Shaw, the corrupt mayor of Los Angeles. A
leader in the state-wide Democratic Party, she served as co-chair of the Culbert
Olson campaign for governor in 1938, which led to the election of the first
Democratic governor in California in the twentieth century. Margaret Workman was
delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1940 and played a role on the
Democratic Women's Advisory Platform Committee. That Los Angeles news publisher
Manchester Boddy would solicit her support in his senatorial primary campaign
against Helen Gahagan Douglas in 1950 also testifies to her importance in state
In World War II, she served as secretary of the Los Angeles branch of the National
Committee Against Nazi Persecution and Extermination of the Jews. She also was a
member of William Allen White's Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies, a
group active before the United States's entrance into World War II that strongly
advocated logistical support for Great Britain in its war with Fascist Italy and
Nazi Germany. Her support for liberal causes was manifested in her membership in the
National Conference of Jews and Christians, and she actively opposed the anti-labor
Proposition 1, which was on the California ballot in 1938. Her service to both
secular and Roman Catholic philanthropy in Los Angeles was tireless: the latter
included work with the Social Service Auxiliary, and the former involved such
organizations as the Hollywood Studio Club of the Young Women's Christian
Association. This list of activities, impressive in its own right, is still
incomplete, which suggests that Margaret Workman's record of service to her
community and nation knew few peers in Los Angeles.
The Workman Family Papers consist of correspondence, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings,
scrolls, diplomas, administrative/organizational papers, publications, certificates,
tract maps, reports, brochures and pamphlets, legal documents, and photographs.
These holdings chiefly concern the life and work of five prominent members of the
Workman family: William H. Workman (1839-1918); his wife Maria E. (1847-1933); their
daughter Mary Julia Workman (1871-1964); her sister-in-law, Margaret K. Workman
(1902-1987), prominent Democrat and social work leader, and wife of Mary's brother
Thomas; and Judge David A. Workman, son of Margaret and Thomas Workman. The
materials span the years from 1881 to 1997, with the majority from the period
1910-1950. In Box 13ov, Folder 1, is a copy of a document, dated 1843, confirming
property rights, but it may be spurious, resulting in the omission of this date from
the comprehensive collection dates. Most materials are in good condition; those that
are not are so indicated in the box and folder list and should be handled with
Persons of note whose activities are documented in this collection include Eleanor
Roosevelt, Culbert Olson, Bishop John Cantwell, Fletcher Bowron, Ellen S. Woodward,
Jerry Voorhis, and Melvyn and Helen Gahagan Douglas.
The Workman Family Papers have been divided into series based on the family members
and materials predominant in the collection: Series 1: Mary Julia Workman; Series 2:
Margaret K. Workman; Series 3: William H. and Maria E. Workman; Series 4: David A.
Workman Judicial Campaigns; Series 5: Publications. Each series has the subseries
"photographs" to account for the photographs corresponding to the respective family
member. Series 5: Publications was established for the large number of loose
publications in the holdings.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the
library's online public access catalog.
Workman, Margaret K.,
Workman, Mary Julia,
Workman, William H.,
Women civic leaders--California--Los
For background information on the Workman family, consult the following works:
"Mary Julia Workman, the Catholic Conscience of Los
Workman, Mary Julia (1871-1964).
Encyclopedia of American Catholic History. Collegeville,
Minnesota, 1997. Pp. 1517-1518.
The Workman Family in Los Angeles.
Historical Society of Southern California Quarterly32
Rowland, Donald E.
John Rowland and William Workman:
Southern California Pioneers of 1841
. Spokane: Arthur H. Clark Co.; Los
Angeles: Historical Society of Southern California, 1999.