Scope and Content
Collection name: Roy D. Graves Pictorial Collection
Collection number: BANC PIC 1905.17500--ALB
Total items in collection: ca. 23,100 photographic
prints, various sizes; ca. 10,000 negatives (including glass plates), various
Roy D. Graves
The Bancroft Library. University of California, Berkeley.
Berkeley, California 94720-6000
The Roy D. Graves Pictorial Collection was received as a gift from Orrin Wickersham June.
In 1963, after negotiating an option to purchase the collection from Mr. Graves, Mr. June
donated a small portion of the collection to the Bancroft Library. Mr. Graves retained
the bulk of the collection for the purpose of recording captions for the individual
photographic prints. The remainder of the collection was gradually acquired by the
Bancroft Library over the next few years.
Photograph collection is available for use. Glass and film negatives restricted from use.
Permission of the Curator of Pictorial Collections required for use of negatives.
Digital Representations Available
Copyright has not been assigned to The Bancroft Library. All requests for permission to
publish photographs must be submitted in writing to the Curator of Pictorial Collections.
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.
Copyright restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials.
Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.
[Identification of item],
Roy D. Graves Pictorial Collection, BANC PIC
1905.17500--ALB, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.
Roy D. Graves was born Roy Chadwick Culver Graves in San Francisco on March 21, 1889. He
took the middle name Daniel at his confirmation. Graves' grandfather, Hiram Throop Graves
--a descendant of English colonist John Graves, who arrived in Concord, Massachusetts in
1635 --originally came to California from New York in 1849 as a miner. He soon abandoned
mining and moved to San Francisco, first working as a coiner with the U.S. Branch Mint,
then developing the California Wire Works, an outlet wire company. Hiram T. Graves
eventually entered into partnership with Andrew S. Hallidie, who would become the
inventor of San Francisco's cable car system. Roy Graves' father, Hiram Augustus Graves,
born in San Francisco, was a railroad conductor and telegrapher. His mother, Amy Culver
Graves, was also a telegrapher and San Francisco native. At the age of 14, after
attending parochial schools in both San Francisco and Oakland, Roy Graves left school and
became an apprentice machinist for George Shreve & Co., a gold and silversmith
business in San Francisco. In 1906, after a string of various mechanical jobs, Graves
became a fireman for the North Shore Railway, thus realizing his ambition to work on a
locomotive. Graves would also work for the Mill Valley & Mt. Tamalpais Scenic Railway
and the Santa Fe Railroad, which, in 1908, dismissed Graves after discovering he did not
meet the company's minimum age requirement. Graves then went to work for the American
Hawaiian Steamship Co., beginning a career in naval transportation that would last for
nearly twenty years and include stints as a transportation engineer with the Key Route
ferries, the Merchant Marines (during World War I), the Rodeo-Vallejo Ferry Boats, and
the California-Hawaiian Sugar Co. From 1931 until his retirement in 1959, Graves
engineered facilities for the City of San Francisco at the State Refrigeration Terminal,
the Veteran's Building and Civic Opera House, and the Fourth and Channel Streets
A San Francisco Bay Area resident his entire life, Roy Graves was also a longtime
photographer and photograph collector. Graves began photographing friends and local
scenes and events in his early teens, following a childhood interest in photography
inspired by local newspaper clippings collected by his grandmother. After working in the
railroad industry and becoming interested in transportation history, he began collecting
photographs related to locomotive and other forms of transportation. Graves' interest in
the history of San Francisco, especially its development before the earthquake and fire
of 1906, led him to collect photographs of regional historical importance as well. Graves
eventually became part of a small, informal network of other collectors with similar
interests from whom he was able to acquire many of his prints. Following his retirement
from the City of San Francisco, Graves served for four years as co-curator --with his
wife Ethel --of the Marin County Historical Society Museum in San Rafael. From 1963 until
his death in 1971, Graves devoted much of his time and energy to the development,
arrangement, and captioning of his photograph collection, which at one point amounted to
circa 50,000 items. Known as "Uncle Roy" by historians of the San Francisco Bay area, Roy
D. Graves was often consulted for his wealth of knowledge and his generous sharing of the
resources of his photograph and memorabilia collections.
Scope and Content
The Roy D. Graves Pictorial Collection contains circa 23,100 photographic prints
classified and arranged by Graves into 96 volumes. Graves began collecting photographs
circa 1902, and continued to develop his collection until his death in 1971. The general
subject areas of the Graves collection are the history of transportation --especially
that of railroad transportation in California --and the history of San Francisco and its
environs. The volume titles, volume numbering, and ordering of items within the volumes
in the present finding aid represent Graves' original classification and arrangement. The
96 volumes have been grouped into four series by the Library. Because Graves' original
volume numbering has been maintained, the arrangement of volumes within each series is
often discontinuous. Subjects and photographers featured in the individual volumes are
summarized in the series descriptions. A large number of the photographs in the
collection are copy prints of photographic originals and glass plate negatives dating as
early as 1850. More recent photographs in the collection were taken as late as 1970. The
collection also contains photographic reproductions of drawings, lithographs, maps,
illustrations, periodical literature, and other print sources, the earliest of which date
to the late Eighteenth century.
Inseparable from the pictorial wealth of the collection are the very informative, often
anecdotal captions provided by Graves in many of the albums. For the large number of
uncaptioned prints in the collection, captions have been supplied and are presented in
brackets in the container listing. The few instances where Graves included brackets in
his original captions are also presented as such. Graves created the majority of his item
captions during the 1960s; thus any present time (such as "now," "still," "today," etc.)
referred to by Graves to describe subject matter can likely be dated to this period.
The original photographers of a large number of the images in the collection have not
been identified. A proportionally small number can be identified as being the work of
Graves himself. Many prints include the names of other photographers, collectors, and
institutions from whom Graves directly acquired much of his collection. The collection
also includes several copy prints of work by such notable California photographers as
Isaiah W. Taber, Turrill & Miller, R.J. Waters, Carleton E. Watkins, William Shew,
and Eadweard Muybridge. Over 1,200 photographs from Volumes 1-10 and 29 have been
selected for digitization in the California Heritage Digital Image Access Project. This
selection represents a photographic history of San Francisco, the San Francisco Bay Area,
and the Chinese community of San Francisco.
Title: Index: Roy D. Graves Photograph Collection: Oral History Transcript,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS C-D 4068