Information for Researchers
Scope and Content
Collection Title: Henry J. Kaiser Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1873-1982
Collection Number: BANC MSS
Kaiser, Henry J., 1882-
Number of containers: 329 cartons, 194 volumes, 2 oversize boxes, 139
Linear feet: ca.480
The Bancroft Library.
Berkeley, California 94720-6000
Physical Location: For current information on the location of these
materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
Abstract: The Henry J. Kaiser papers contain personal and business
correspondence, memoranda, speeches, and papers, covering the Oakland, New York, and
Hawaii offices, principally from the period after World War II. Includes material on
the Kaiser Industries Corporation, the Kaiser-Permanente Medical Care Program, the
Kaiser Shipyards at Richmond, Calif., other Kaiser industries, and Kaiser's closest
associate, Eugene E. Trefethen.
Information for Researchers
Collection is open for use, with the following exception: Carton 20, folder 32 b,
Richmond Shipyards Industrial Relations Report, 1943, sections 8-13, is
restricted until 2019.
All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from or otherwise use collection
materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The
Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94720-6000. Consent is
given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical items and
is not intended to include or imply permission from the copyright owner. Such
permission must be obtained from the copyright owner. See:
Restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use
of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.
[Identification of item], Henry J. Kaiser papers, BANC MSS 83/42 c, The Bancroft
Library, University of California, Berkeley.
Alternate Forms Available
Selections from this collection are available on microfilm as call numbers BANC FILM 2571,
BANC FILM 3167, BANC FILM 3168, and BANC FILM 3171. See catalog record or container list for contents.
Title: Edgar F. Kaiser, Sr. Papers,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 85/61 c
Title: Eugene E. Trefethen, Jr. Papers,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 87/35 c
Title: Henry J. Kaiser, Jr. Papers,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 88/205 c
Henry J. Kaiser, Sr. Scrapbooks - Hawaii Activities,
Date (inclusive): 1955-1956,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 85/155 cp
Title: Kaiser Foundation Hospitals - Hawaii Region Collection,
Date (inclusive): 1958-1985,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 87/131 cp
Title: Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 91/12 c
Material Cataloged Separately
- Selected printed materials have been transferred to the book collection of
The Bancroft Library.
- Photographs have been transferred to Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft
- Films and sound recordings have been transferred to the Microforms
Division of The Bancroft Library.
- Selected maps have been transferred to the Map Room.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in
the library's online public access catalog.
Kaiser, Henry J.,
Trefethen, Eugene E.
(Eugene Edgar), 1909-
Medical Care Program
Industries--New York (State)
The Henry J. Kaiser Papers were given to The Bancroft Library by Kaiser
Foundation Health Plan, Inc. in 1983, with additions in 1985 and 1986.
Processed by Regan Bresnahan, Project Archivist. Additions processed by Lauren
Lassleben and Rosemary Evetts; finding aid completed by Mary Morganti, with
assistance from Robin Tremblay-McGaw, Elizabeth Stephens, and others.
||Henry John Kaiser born in Sprout Brook (near Canajoharie), New York, on
May 9, son of Francis J. and Mary Yops Kaiser, German immigrants.
||Left school at age 13, to help support his parents and three sisters, by
working in a dry goods store in Utica, New York.
|ca. 1903- 1906
||Became a salesman and partner in a photographic business in Lake Placid,
New York; bought out his partner, and opened stores in Daytona Beach and
Miami, Florida, and Nassau.
||Moved to Spokane, Washington, and worked as a hardware and sand and
||Married Bessie Fosburgh on April 8 in Boston.
||Began a road paving business in Washington and British Columbia. The
Henry J. Kaiser Company, Ltd. established in Vancouver, B.C., in
||Won his first California paving contract, between Redding and Red Bluff,
and established headquarters in Oakland.
||Started sand and gravel quarry at Radum (near Livermore), to supply the
Livermore-Pleasanton paving job. This was the beginning of Kaiser Sand and
||Worked on a 200 -mile, 500 -bridge highway in Cuba.
||Formed a consortium called Six Companies, Inc., with Henry J. Kaiser as
chairman of the executive committee, to build Hoover (Boulder) Dam on the
Colorado River. Also collaborated on the building of Bonneville, Grand
Coulee, and Shasta Dams, natural gas pipelines in the Southwest, Mississippi
River levees, and the San Francisco -Oakland Bay Bridge underwater
||Built the Permanente Cement plant near Los Altos, California, in seven
months, to provide cement and aggregates for the construction of Shasta
||During World War II, coordinated production of liberty ships, "baby flat
top" aircraft carriers, aircraft, cement, steel, magnesium for bombs and
artillery shells, as well as laying the ground work for post war production
of housing, cars and consumer goods.
||Granted loan by the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to build a steel
plant at Fontana, California, the first in the western United States. Broke
ground in April, and the first blast furnace was blown in on December 30,
||Considered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as his fourth-term vice
presidential running mate.
||Chairman of the Non-Partisan Association for Franchise Education, to
||Kaiser-Frazer Corporation incorporated in Nevada, and produced 750,000
automobiles in its ten years of production.
||Served as national chairman of the Victory Clothing Collection, the
Civilian Production Administration Emergency Food Collection, and the United
States Relief Administration.
||Began making aluminum at five rented plants, and showed a profit of $5.3
million in less than one year.
||Bessie Fosburgh Kaiser died in Oakland. A month later, on April 10, Henry
J. Kaiser married Alyce Chester in Santa Barbara.
||Turned over day to day operation of Kaiser Industries Corporation to son
Edgar F. Kaiser, and moved to Hawaii. There he developed the Hawaiian
Village Hotel, and a $350 million real estate development and resort called
||Opened Kaiser Foundation Hospital in Honolulu.
||Henry J. Kaiser, Jr. died in Oakland.
||Awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by University of California,
||Received the International Broadcast Free Enterprise Award.
||Given the AFL-CIO Murray Green Humanitarian Award, "in recognition of
notable accomplishments in voluntary medical care, housing and
||Died on August 24 in Honolulu. By the time of his death at age 85, Henry
J. Kaiser had founded more than 100 companies, which operated 180 major
plants in 32 states and 40 foreign countries, employing 90,000 people and
making 300 products and services, with assets of $2.5 billion.
Scope and Content
The Henry J. Kaiser Papers reflect the multi-faceted career of an American
businessman, builder, popular folk hero, and self-made millionaire, who dropped out
of school in the eighth grade to help support his family. According to historian
Gerald D. Nash, "more than any other individual person, industrialist Henry J.
Kaiser was responsible for the wartime industrial boom in the West."
Gerald B. Nash,
The American West in the Twentieth Century: a Short History of a Cultural
(Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1973), p. 205.
The bulk of the collection dates from after World War II, by which time the
affiliated Kaiser companies were producing an amazing array of building materials,
including steel, cement, aluminum, and gypsum; beginning engineering projects all
over the world; and, building affordable housing and consumer goods, such as
Kaiser-Frazer cars, Willys Jeeps, and even dishwashers. Henry J. Kaiser's papers
were not systematically retained until after the war, when he hired newspaperman
Robert C. Elliott as his executive assistant. The collection contains papers dating
from 1873 to 1982, consisting of both personal papers and corporate records, and
including correspondence, memoranda, reports, general office files, advertisements,
and financial records, as well as transcripts of speeches and radio talks, articles,
honoraria, and obituaries, among other personal papers. Oversize materials include
architectural drawings, primarily of Kaiser's housing and resort development in
Hawaii, engineering plans and sketches for various other Kaiser projects, including
airplanes and boats, newsclippings, and scrapbooks.
The collection was processed over a number of years, by a handful of individuals
working in several locations; therefore, some duplication may continue to exist
within the files. In 1991, extensive editing and reworking of the in-process finding
aid was undertaken and an attempt made to rectify inaccuracies and errors, both in
the random packing of the cartons and in the container listing, which did not
include any of the oversize materials. As part of that project, numerous printed
materials were removed to the book collection, for separate cataloging, resulting in
the elimination of a number of cartons as the collection was repacked and condensed.
Among the most interesting series are two which document the myriad projects in which
Henry J. Kaiser was continually engaged. Series 1: Early Miscellaneous Material,
1924-1952, contains many of the records relating to early paving operations, where
Kaiser got his start in the construction business, and joint venture projects, such
as pipeline, bridge, jetty, and dam construction projects in the West. Series 5:
Projects File, 1940-1945, demonstrates the range of activities which the Kaiser
personnel undertook in wartime, in addition to their West Coast steel-making and
ship-building operations. Always one to foresee consumer demand, even during the
press of manufacturing steel, ships, planes, and magnesium, Kaiser was also
experimenting with automobiles, dishwashers, and low-cost housing. The records in
these two series, particularly, are supplemented by the materials found in the two
additions to the Henry J. Kaiser Papers (Series 16 & 17).
The collection is rich in potential research topics. Henry J. Kaiser was a key figure
in the industrialization of the West: he was the first to manufacture steel on the
West Coast (at Fontana, California, where the first blast furnace was named for his
wife, Bess). He was a major force in building the Hawaiian economy, overseeing the
development of a resort hotel complex and the master-planned community, Hawaii-Kai.
It is as a visionary dreamer and doer, one particularly proud of Kaiser Permanente
Foundation's extensive pre-paid health maintenance organization, that Henry J.
Kaiser wished to be remembered.