Scope and Content
Title: Paul Kagan Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1911-1971
Collection number: MS 3121
Kagan, Paul, 1943
Extent: 2 ft.
California Historical Society, North Baker Library
San Francisco, California 94105-4014
Collection is open for research by appointment only.
Copyright has not been assigned to The North Baker Research Library. All requests for
permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing
to the Library Director. Permission for publication is given on behalf
of The North Baker Research 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.
[Identification of item], Paul Kagan Papers. MS 3121, California Historical Society, North Baker Research Library.
The Paul Kagan Papers consist largely of documents produced by several California Utopian communities of the early twentieth
century. The individuals in these communities strove for a meaningful, humanistic approach to life, which centered on the
integral relationship between the individual and the community. Extensively represented are the Llano del Rio community and
the Theosophical Society at Krotona, with additional theosophical material from the Halcyon People's Temple, Point Loma Publications,
Theosophical University Press(Altadena), Pisgah, and the East-West Cultural Center. Miscellaneous items from an unidentified
organization called Fountaingrove are also included.
The Llano del Rio colony was a worker's corporation founded in 1914 by Job Harriman, a Marxist lawyer, as a communal alternative
to what he viewed as the selfish competition and materialism of capitalist America. The community began as an agricultural
commune in the southern California desert, but expanded to include other industries in its drive for self-sufficiency. One
of the enterprises run by the members was a printing press, whose publications were used both as in-house newsletters and
outreach proselytizers. As a result of financial and political difficulties, the colony relocated in Leesville, LA. in 1917
where it thrived for some years.
Madame H.P.Blavatsky founded the theosophical Society in 1875, with its headquarters in Adyar, India. Under her guidance,
the society's members strove to form a nucleus dedicated to Universal Brotherhood; the study of religion, philosophy and science;
and, the exploration of
unexplained phenomena. The Theosophists use of psychic phenomena, occultism, and spiritualism in their search for Universal
Truth made them constant subjects of controversy and suspicion for the outside world.
The Krotona Institute was one of the American offshoots of the Theosophical Society, a Western Adyar dedicated to theosophical
principles. The Institute served as a resident centre for education and training. Members of the Society secured the building
site in the Hollywood hills in 1912, and were able to open the school the same year. The centre grew in size and popularity
and remained a hiatus for American Theosophists.
Another branch of the main Theosophical Society was the Temple of the People at Halcyon, CA. William Dower founded the organization
in 1898 as a result of a leadership dispute in the official American section of the Theosophical Society. The Temple members,
too, considered themselves a nucleus for the Universal Community, and as guides to the hidden knowledge of human origin and
its destiny. The town of Halcyon functioned as a religious commune where residents received spiritual support while they worked
in the surrounding areas.
The Theosophical University Press and Point Loma Publications are reflections of the same theosophical spirit in both tone
and content. Apparently the publications from these presses were not connected to specific communities, but support theosophic
sympathizers who lived in the normal world.
Insufficient material prevents a history of the other three groups: Pisgah, East-West Cultural Center and Fountaingrove.
Paul Kagan, the collection's donator, used the materials for his book,
New World Utopias, before donating them to the Historical Society.
Scope and Content
The Paul Kagan collection consists almost entirely of publications, printed materials and newsletters published by each organization.
Community members designed some of these for a general, interested audience and others only for their own edification. The
various publications cover issues and concerns relating to the communities and their central themes. Inclusively, they span
a time period from 1911-1971, with the bulk of the material published in the late teens and early twenties.
The Llano del Rio colonists' main publication was the
Western Comrade, later changed to the
Internationalist, a socialist monthly magazine intended for the general public. They also published a specialized magazine, the
Reconstructionist, dedicated to the rebuilding of the south, which directed special attention to the denuded timber lands. To handle the more
personal concerns of the colony, the members produced the
Llano Colonist, Colony News, American Cooperator, Colony Cooperator and
Cooperation in Action. The publishing staff distributed these newsletters to both members and prospective members. The
Colonist, published by a former member of Llano, Walter Millsap, focuses on the larger subject of all cooperative communities. Additional
Llano material includes photocopied ads seeking new members for the community; Llano community ordinances and tribunate minutes;
and, a derogatory article on Llano's founder in the
The official magazine of the American section of the Theosophical Society is the
American Theosophist, published at Krotona. Krotona residents used the
Theosophical Messenger for news and items of interest to them only. Mme. Blavatsky wrote a set of outreach-oriented pamphlets in which she explains
theosophy's basic tenets and raison d'etre. Additional materials include: photocopies of correspondance from the Society's
President, Annie Besant, to the head of Krotona Institute, several form
letters soliciting donations from members; various other pamphlets; a school catalogue for the Institute; and two term papers
written by students, which provide interesting background information about the Institute.
The collection holds one of the People's Temple official magazine, the
Temple Artisan. Guardian William Dower wrote several pamphlets, to instruct beginners in occultism and temple concepts. The rest of the material
consists of in-house newsletters designed to inform residents and members of activities, news and personal items.
The Point Loma Publications newspaper documents what were current issues (1971-72) in theosophy within an editorial format.
The Theosophic University Press published
Sunrise, a non-sectarian collection of editorial articles geared to the discovery of fundamental principles.
The Pisgah folder contains a photocopy of the Pisgah Home Song Book, a group of religious songs.
Three monthly programs of the East-West Cultural Center list events and activities which were held at the center.
The Fountaingrove folder consists of three unidentified photos (originals in photo collection) and a miscellaneous news clipping.
American Theosophist, 2/13-2/14, V1.14, #5,6,7,8 & V1.15,#3,7
- Collective settlements
- Cooperative Societies
East-West Cultural Center
- Eclectic Theosophist, 9/71-3-72. #5,8,9
Halcyon Temple of the People
Internationalist, 5/18-7/18. V.6,#1,2,3
Llano Colonist, 5/26-9/47
Llano Del Rio Company
- Point Loma Publications
- Religion, California (L.A. and Santa Barbara counties)
Theosophical Society, American section
Theosophic Messenger, 8/12-2/23
Theosophical University Press
Western Comrade, 9/15-4/18