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Guide to the Joseph Russell Knowland Papers, 1889-1961
MS 3154  
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Added Entries

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Joseph Russell Knowland Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1889-1961
    Collection number: MS 3154
    Creator: Knowland, Joseph Russell, 1873-1966
    Extent: 10 ft.
    Repository: California Historical Society, North Baker Library
    San Francisco, California 94105-4014
    National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC) Identification Number:
    NUCMC 82-421
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    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.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Joseph Russell Knowland Papers. MS 3154, California Historical Society, North Baker Research Library.


    Born in Alameda on 5 August 1873, Joseph Russell Knowland was one of the best known figures in the public life of California during the first half of the 20th century. His parents were among the first settlers to move west, and established a successful lumber business. After graduation from the College of the Pacific, Knowland joined his father in the family business. He became associated with the business community of Oakland, where he later served as the President of the Bank of Alameda.
    At the age of twenty-five, Knowland was elected to the California State Assembly in 1899, and served for two terms. In 1902, he was elected to the California State Senate. Knowland went to Washington in 1904 as a United States representative to Congress, where he stayed until 1914. As a member of the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee, he was involved in the Panama Canal negotiations and was later instrumental in bringing the Panama Pacific International Exposition to San Francisco in 1915.
    Following an unsuccessful bid for Senate in 1915, Knowland purchased the Oakland Tribune. As publisher, he took an active interest in the development of the City of Oakland. In 1923, he joined the Associated Press and went on to be its Director for twenty-nine years.
    Deeply interested in California, Knowland dedicated much of his life to the preservation of California historic monuments. As a member of the Native Sons of the Golden West, he chaired the Historic Lands Committee and presided over the California Landmark League. This experience resulted in the 1941 publication of California, a Landmark History.
    Knowland served from 1933-1961 on the California State Park Commission. Created in 1927, the Commission played a crucial role in determining which of the California lands would be set aside for state park and recreation areas. Knowland also accepted the major responsibility for the planning and chairing of the California Centennial Celebration from 1948-1950, which was a state wide celebration involving tremendous work and dedication.
    When California Historical Society was formed in 1922, Knowland was there. After many years of participation, he was elected to serve on the Board of Trustees until 1952, when he assumed the Presidency. He then was active as Chair until his death in February of 1966.
    Knowland was married in 1894 to Ellie Fife and in 1909 to Emelyn West. One of his sons, William Knowland, was a United States Senator during the 1940's and 1950's.

    Scope and Content

    The Joseph Russell Knowland Collection consists of over fifty years of correspondence, reports, articles and printed materials conerning the development of California during the first half of the 20th century. The collection is composed primarily of the documents of the various organizations to which Knowland belonged. There are very few personal letters or memos.
    The Collection is divided into three primary categories: Oakland City Development, 1906-1949, which covers the waterfront and Naval Base development, as well as the printed material about Oakland and Oakland Tribune records; California State Park Commission, 1904-1949, which includes extensive correspondence, park development plans, committee reports and minutes; and, the California Centennial Celebration, 1941-1950, following the celebration from the planning stages through the actual presentations and final reports.
    The Collection also contains a rough draft autobiography prepared by Knowland, as well as newspaper clippings relating to California History. Included are photographs of State Parks and Centennial Commission Committee members.

    Added Entries

    • California--History
    • California--Politics and Government--1910-1950
    • California Centennial Celebration, 1940's
    • California State Historical Society, 1920's
    • California State Park Commission, 1940's-1950's
    • Cities and Towns--Planning--Oakland
    • Knowland, William 8/17/45, 8/30/45, 9/1/45, 3/5/48
    • Mare Island, 1906-1913
    • Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1944-1945
    • Mills College, 1920's
    • Native Sons of the Golden West
    • Oakland Tribune
    • Panama Pacific International Exposition, 1915
    • Roosevelt, Franklin D. 8/17/44 (unsigned)
    • San Francisco. California Mid-Winter International Exposition, 1894
    • Warren, Earl 1/9/46, 3/7/49