Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Walker A. Tompkins Collection,
Date (inclusive): 1849-1989
Date (bulk): (bulk 1931-1984)
Collection Number: SBHC Mss 19
Tompkins, Walker A.
30 linear feet
(8 records containers, 17 document boxes, 4 oversize boxes, 1 map cabinet drawer, 110 open reel audio tapes, and 7 audio cassettes)
University of California, Santa Barbara. Library. Department of Special Collections
Santa Barbara, California 93106-9010
Physical Location: Boxes 1-22, 27-29 (Del Sur), Boxes 23-26 (Del Sur Oversize), Map Cabinet 20/8, Audiotapes (Perf. Arts)
Financial Records restricted; see Head of Special Collections for further information.
Copyright has not been assigned to the Department of Special Collections, UCSB. All requests for permission to publish or
quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given
on behalf of the Department of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply
permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained.
Walker A. Tompkins Collection. SBHC Mss 19. Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California,
Donation by Barbara H. Tompkins, 1990-1991, and 2002, with additional material donated by Eric Hvolboll, 1991.
Walker A. Tompkins was born on July 10, 1909 in Prosser, Yakima County, Washington. He was the son of Charle E. and Bertha
Tompkins who had moved to Washington from Missouri. Tompkins grew up on a wheat farm in Walla Walla County before moving with
his family to Turlock, California in 1920. He began his writing career in Turlock, at the age of fourteen, as a reporter for
Daily Journal. At the age of 21, he sold his first western novel to Street and Smith of New York, just before beginning college at Washington
State. He also attended Modesto (California) Junior College.
In 1931, Tompkins went to work at the (Portland)
Sunday Oregonian. He also wrote fiction on the side for magazines, books, radio, and later, television. During the 1930s, he worked his way
around the world, travelling to Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Dutch East Indies. He wrote western pulp stories during these
journeys and collected his fees for them on the fly. At the beginning of World War II, Tompkins was drafted into the Army
where he served as a correspondent in Europe for three years. Following the war, he settled in Santa Barbara, California where
he began concentrating on local history.
Dubbed "Two-Gun Tompkins" early in his career for his prodigious output of pulp westerns, he wrote western fiction for 30
years before switching to history and biography. He was best known for his work in the latter field, especially his regional
histories which focused on the Santa Barbara area. His many works include:
The Good Land (1966
), Santa Barbara Past and Present(1975
It Happened in Old Santa Barbara (1976),
Stagecoach Days in Santa Barbara County (1982
Santa Barbara History Makers (1983). He referred to the last work as his "magnum opus." While working on his many projects, he also held a job as a reporter
Santa Barbara News-Press from 1957 to 1973, where he was the author of the column "Santa Barbara Yesterdays." He also did a radio show that aired
for 20 years on a local station and was in constant demand as a speaker. Tompkins was greatly interested in the history of
Santa Barbara's neighborhoods and sought to encourage his readers and listeners to appreciate the unique attributes of each.
To this end, he published his twelve-pamphlet series,
Neighborhoods (originally published between 1977 and 1980, later collected in one volume, 1989).
Tompkins continued to write throughout his life, publishing a number of works, ranging from an institutional history to a
series of boys' adventure novels, after his official retirement. Tompkins served on the board of directors for the Santa Barbara
Historical Society and the Santa Barbara County Landmarks Advisory Committee. In 1975, he was honored by the California State
Legislature for his contributions in the area of regional history. Walker A. Tompkins died in Santa Barbara, California on
November 24, 1988.
The information in this biography was drawn largely mainly from accounts of Walker A. Tompkins' life published in
The Santa Barbara News-Press,
The Santa Barbara Independent, and
The Chinook Observer (Long Beach, Washington) in November and December 1988. For further biographical information, see Box 1 of the collection.
Scope and Content of Collection
The bulk of the collection was donated by Barbara H. Tompkins, widow of Walker A. Tompkins, with the remainder donated by
Eric Hvolboll. The collection consists mainly of Tompkins writings (local/regional history and historical fiction) and related
research files, but also some historical manuscripts donated by others to Tompkins. Much of the subject matter relates to
the Santa Barbara and Goleta areas. Included in the collection are manuscripts, monographs, serials, newspapers, clippings,
b/w photographs and albums, b/w negatives, audiotapes, scrapbook, maps, and artifacts.
The following materials from the Tompkins Collection have been moved to the UCSB Special Collections newspaper area:
Santa Barbara area [some partial issues]
El Barbareno (Santa Barbara), May 1897
Carpinteria Herald, Oct. 13, 1960
Daily Independent (Santa Barbara), Sept. 17, 1897
Daily News and Independent (Santa Barbara), July 5, 1919
Goleta Gazette, Nov. 20, 1958; Apr. 2, 1959
Goleta Sun, Feb. 17, 1988; Mar. 23, 1988
The Independent (Santa Barbara), Jan. 28, 1908
Lompoc Record, Apr. 10, 1975
Montecito Ledger, June 11, 1958
Morning Press (Santa Barbara), July 10, 1899; July 7, 1907
Santa Barbara Daily News, May 8, 1922; May 20, 1922
Santa Barbara Herald, Dec. 29, 1893
Santa Barbara News Press, Jan. 2, 1952; Aug. 4, 1957; Dec. 7, 1964
Santa Barbara News Press (Old Spanish Days/Fiesta issues), Aug-. 8-12, 1973; Aug. 6-10, 1975; Aug. 4-8, 1976
Santa Barbara Post, Feb. 1964
Santa Barbara Press, Oct. 12, 1872
Santa Barbara Star, Aug. 5, 1954
Santa Barbara Weekly Press, Aug. 16, 1873
Weekly Herald (Santa Barbara), June 4, 1897
Sunday Chronicle (San Francisco), Feb. 27, 1887
A number of books, some by Tompkins and others about local, California, and western history were donated with the manuscript
collection. These and other publications of local history interest may be searched on Pegasus, the UCSB Libraries online catalog.
In addition, UCSB Special Collections has a number of other manuscript collections with a local history emphasis. Among these
- Community Development and Conservation Collection (SBHC Mss 1).
- Isla Vista Archives (SBHC Mss 41).
- Lobero Theatre Collection (PA Mss 4).
- Menzies (Jean Storke) Collection (SBHC Mss 34).
- Ruhge (Justin) Collection (SBHC Mss 27).
- Sollen (Robert ) Collection (SBHC Mss 33).
- Storke (Charles II) Collection (SBHC Mss 38).