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Ralph Arnold Papers: Finding Aid
mssArnold papers  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Related Materials in the Huntington Library
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: Ralph Arnold Papers
    Dates (inclusive): 1836-1961
    Collection Number: mssArnold papers
    Creator: Arnold, Ralph, 1875-1961.
    Extent: Approximately 200,000 pieces in 257 boxes
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2129
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: This collection contains the extensive business, political, personal, and family papers of American geologist and petroleum engineer Ralph Arnold (1875-1961). Subjects represented in the collection include: mining, petroleum, and seismology in the Western United States as well as Canada, Mexico, Cuba, South America, etc.; political papers from 1914-1956, mostly concerning the campaign of Herbert Hoover for president; family and personal papers (1836-1961) of Arnold and his father, Delos Arnold, containing source material on Pasadena and Southern California local history.
    Language: English.

    Access

    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. Ralph Arnold Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Provenance

    Gift of Ralph Arnold, 1955-1961. The maps were presented to the Huntington Library in January 1955.

    Biographical Note

    American geologist and petroleum engineer Ralph Arnold (1875-1961) was born in Marshalltown, Iowa, on April 14, 1875. His father, Delos Arnold (1830-1909), was a lawyer and Iowa state senator who became interested in the study of fossils after the discovery of crinoids fossils in LeGrand, Iowa. The Arnolds moved to Pasadena, California, in 1886, and Ralph attended both Pasadena High School and Throop Polytechnic School (now the California Institute of Technology) before receiving a B.A. in geology and mining from Stanford in 1899. He continued at Stanford to complete an M.A. (1900) and Ph.D. (1902) in geology and paleontology. In 1899, Arnold married Frankie Winninette Stokes. The couple had two daughters, Winninette, who married chemist Richard M. Noyes, and Elizabeth (McKee).
    Arnold worked for the United States Geological Survey (USGS) from 1900 to 1909, and from 1903-1909 published a variety of paleontological articles. He was active in petroleum surveys throughout the United States, and organized the Petroleum Branch of the United States Bureau of Mines. In 1910, Arnold left the USGS. Herbert Hoover, Arnold's former colleague at Stanford, then in London as a consulting engineer for Gold Fields, Ltd. of South Africa, recommended Arnold to that company for a survey of oil resources in Venezuela, about which experiences Arnold later published a book, The First Big Oil Hunt: Venezuela, 1911-1916. At that time there was a single oil well in Venezuela producing 40 gallons of oil per day. In 1958, the year Arnold published his book recording his spectacular success in Venezuela, the country was producing 2,500,000 barrels of petroleum per day. The survey, the most extensive and thorough of its kind ever undertaken in South America, was widely publicized throughout the world.
    Arnold's second survey, conducted for the General Asphalt Company in Northern Venezuela, employed, under Arnold's direction, a staff of 52 geologists, engineers, drillers, etc. So successful was this venture, a Royal Dutch Shell Company paid General Asphalt $1,000,000 for 51 percent in General Asphalt's Caribbean Petroleum Co.
    After Arnold's South American explorations between 1911 and 1916, he took up wild-catting, both in petroleum and in every conceivable kind of mineral, e.g. he joined the Independents, in contradistinction to the big oil companies. He organized one exploratory company after another. His manipulations extended from Alaska to Mexico, all over the Far West and the South West, though the syndicates that Arnold organized failed.
    In the 1920s Arnold’s interests turned to politics. He was an ardent Republican and served as chairman of three electoral committees for the Presidency in California and was actively involved in the Herbert Hoover presidential campaign. He remained committed to the California Academy of Sciences, the Cooper Ornithological Society, and the Sierra Club, among other organizations. Arnold died in Santa Barbara, California, in 1961.

    Scope and Content

    The collection contains letters, documents (including 190,000 reports), 1200 maps, 500 photographs, and 8200 pieces of printed material related to the life and career of geologist and petroleum engineer Ralph Arnold. Subjects represented in the collection include: mining, petroleum, and seismology in the Western United States as well as Canada, Mexico, Cuba, South America, etc.; political papers from 1914-1956, mostly concerning the campaign of Herbert Hoover for president; family and personal papers (1836-1961) of Arnold and his father, Delos Arnold, containing source material on Pasadena and Southern California local history. The collection also contains Arnold's field books, including those made at Stanford University with the U.S. Geological Survey (1900-09). Arnold's petroleum reports, numbering about 1,000 reports, extending all over the United States, Alaska, Canada, and Mexico, are a valuable resource for studying the Petroleum industry during this period.

    Related Materials in the Huntington Library

    Arrangement

    The collection is arranged in the following 16 series:
    • 1. Family and personal papers, 1836-1961 (Boxes 1-11)
    • 2. Business papers, 1890-1950 (Boxes 12-15)
    • 3. General correspondence, 1899-1960 (Boxes 16-128)
    • 4. Field books, 1899-1957 (Boxes 129-130)
    • 5. Legal papers, 1911-1947 (Boxes 131)
    • 6. Manuscripts, 1898-1960 (Boxes 132-134)
    • 7. Maps, 1890-1954 (Boxes 135-138)
    • 8. Memoranda and notes, 1901-1958 (Boxes 139-140)
    • 9. Mining papers, 1875-1946 (Boxes 141-169)
    • 10. Petroleum papers, 1865-1960 (Boxes 170-217)
    • 11. Photographs (Box 218-220)
    • 12. Political papers, 1914-1956 (Boxes 221-233b)
    • 13. Seismological papers, 1887-1956 (Box 234)
    • 14. Shells (Box 235)
    • 15. Ephemera (Box 236-237)
    • 16. Addenda: Printed material (Boxes 238-257)

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  

    Subjects

    Arnold, Ralph, 1875-1961.
    Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964.
    Geological Survey (U.S.)
    Mines and mineral resources -- Canada.
    Mines and mineral resources -- Cuba.
    Mines and mineral resources -- Mexico.
    Mines and mineral resources -- South America.
    Mines and mineral resources -- West (U.S.)
    Mineral industries -- West (U.S.)
    Mining engineers -- West (U.S.) -- Archives.
    Petroleum -- Geology -- Canada.
    Petroleum -- Geology -- Cuba.
    Petroleum -- Geology -- Mexico.
    Petroleum -- Geology -- South America.
    Petroleum -- Geology -- United States.
    Petroleum engineering -- Canada.
    Petroleum engineering -- Cuba.
    Petroleum engineering -- Mexico.
    Petroleum engineering -- South America.
    Petroleum engineering -- West (U.S.)
    Petroleum geologists -- California -- Archives.
    Petroleum industry and trade -- United States.
    Republican Party (U.S. : 1854- )
    Seismology -- West (U.S.)
    Pasadena (Calif.) -- History -- Sources.

    Forms/Genres

    Family papers -- United States.
    Field notes -- United States.
    Letters (correspondence) -- United States.
    Maps -- United States.