Guide to the Joseph Russell Knowland Papers, 1889-1961

Processed by California Historical Society staff; supplementary encoding and revision supplied by Xiuzhi Zhou.
California Historical Society
North Baker Research Library
678 Mission Street
San Francisco, California 94105-4014
Phone: (415) 357-1848, ext. 220
Fax: (415) 357-1850
© 2001
California Historical Society. All rights reserved.

Guide to the Joseph Russell Knowland Papers, 1889-1961

Collection number: MS 3154

California Historical Society

North Baker Research Library

San Francisco, California

Contact Information:

  • California Historical Society
  • North Baker Research Library
  • 678 Mission Street
  • San Francisco, California 94105-4014
  • Phone: (415) 357-1848, ext. 220
  • Fax: (415) 357-1850
  • Email:
  • URL:
Processed by:
California Historical Society staff
© 2001 California Historical Society. All rights reserved.

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

Container List



Box 1, Folder 1


Folder 2

My Father

Folder 3

My Mother

Folder 4

Birth and Early Life

Folder 5

Experience in Teens

Folder 6

Early Interests

Folder 7

Youth Joining the National Guard

Folder 8

San Francisco Mid-Winder Fair

Folder 9

Early Interest in Politics

Folder 10

Elected to Congress, 1903-1914

Folder 11

First Congressional Assignments

Folder 12

Foreign Commerce Committee Assignments

Folder 13

Speaker Joe Cannon, 1910

Folder 14

San Francisco Panama Exposition, 1915

Folder 15

Purchase of the Oakland Tribune

Folder 16

Spanish Influenza, 1918

Folder 17

Aviation, 1903-1961

Folder 18

Oakland Aviation

Folder 19

Associated Press Connection

Folder 20

Bay Bridge, 1930

Folder 21

California History, 1891-1961

Folder 22

State Park Commission

Folder 23


Folder 24

Centennial Celebration, 1948-1950

Folder 25

Speech, 1961


General Correspondence

Box 2, Folder 26

General Correspondence, 1889-1922

Folder 27

General Correspondence, 1924-1926, 1936

Folder 28

Republican Party Memos, 1940's

Folder 29

General Correspondence, 1943-1944

Folder 30

General Correspondence, 1945

Folder 31

General Correspondence, 1946

Folder 32

General Correspondence, 1947

Folder 33

General Correspondence, 1948

Folder 34

General Correspondence, 1949-1957

Folder 35

General Correspondence, n.d.


California History

Box 3, Folder 36

California State Historical Association, 1920's

Folder 37

California State Reports, 1910-1945

Folder 38

Printed Material-California History, 1910-1920's

Folder 39

Printed Material-California History, 1910-1920's

Folder 40

Printed Material-California History, 1910-1920's

Folder 41

Printed Material-California History, n. d.

Folder 42

Out of State Historical Material, 1920's


Oakland Naval Base Development

Box 4, Folder 43

Mare Island, 1906-1913

Folder 44

Naval Base Correspondence, 1915-1923

Folder 45

Naval Base Correspondence, 1923-1926

Folder 46

Naval Base Financial Records, 1924

Folder 47

Naval Base Reports, 1920's

Folder 48

Naval Base Legislation, 1920's

Folder 49

Naval Base Newspapers Clippings

Folder 50



Oakland City Development

Box 5, Folder 51

Oakland-Building Development Correspondence, 1909-1917

Folder 52

Oakland-Harbor Development Correspondence, 1911-1924

Folder 53

Oakland-Harbor Clippings

Folder 54

Oakland-Harbor Miscellaneous

Folder 55

Oakland-Waterfront Development, 1916-1917

Folder 56

Oakland-Water Supply Project, 1923

Folder 57

Oakland-City Street Development Correspondence, 1926-1928

Folder 58

Oakland-City Street Development Miscellaneous, 1916-1928



Box 6, Folder 59

Oakland-Mills College Funding Correspondence, 1920's

Folder 60

Oakland-Printed Material, 1920's

Folder 61

Oakland-Civic Organizations, 1920's

Folder 62

Oakland-Miscellaneous, 1920's

Folder 63

Oakland-Alameda County Reports, 1916, 1917, 1922, 1923

Folder 64

Oakland-Oakland Tribune, 1940's

Folder 65

Oakland-Oakland Tribune Survey, n.d.

Folder 66

Oakland-Welfare Commission, 1945-1946

Folder 67

Oakland-Public Health Report, 1949


California State Parks Commission

Box 7, Folder 68

Correspondence-Colton Hall, 1904-1941

Folder 69

General Correspondence, 1943-1945

Folder 70

Correspondence-Columbia Park, 1945

Folder 71

Correspondence-Columbia Park, 1946-1947

Folder 72

General Correspondence, January-February 1946

Folder 73

General Correspondence, March-May 1946

Folder 74

General Correspondence, June-September 1946

Folder 75

General Correspondence, October-December 1946

Folder 76

General Correspondence, January-April 1947

Folder 77

General Correspondence, May-June 1947

Folder 78

General Correspondence, July-August 1947

Folder 79

General Correspondence, September-December 1947

Folder 80

General Correspondence, January-April 1948

Box 8, Folder 81

General Correspondence, May-July 1948

Folder 82

General Correspondence, August-October 1948

Folder 83

General Correspondence, November-December 1948

Folder 84

General Correspondence, January-June 1949

Folder 85

Correspondence-Calaveras-Butano Park, January-February 19, 1949

Folder 86

Correspondence-Calaveras-Butano Park, February 19-29, 1949

Box 9, Folder 87

Correspondence-Calaveras-Butano Park, Postcards, January-April 1949

Folder 88

Correspondence-Calaveras-Butano Park, March 1949

Folder 89

Correspondence-Calaveras-Butano Park, April-December 1949

Folder 90

General Correspondence, July-September 1949

Folder 91

General Correspondence, October-December 1949

Folder 92

Correspondence-China Cove, 1949

Folder 93

General Correspondence, 1950

Folder 94

General Correspondence, n.d.

Box 10, Folder 95

Commission Policies, 1946, 1948, 1949

Folder 96

Commission Minutes, April 1945-October 1947

Folder 97

Commission Minutes, 1948

Folder 98

Commission Minutes, April 1949-April 1950

Folder 99

MGM Point Lobos Hearing, December 1945

Folder 100

Miscellaneous Resolutions

Folder 101

Miscellaneous Reports

Box 11, Folder 102

Park Development Reports, 1944-1948

Folder 103

Park Development-Columbia Park

Folder 104

Park Development-Lake Elsinore

Folder 105

Park Development-Los Angeles, 1946-1947

Folder 106

Park Development-Mendocino, 1944

Folder 107

Park Development-Monterey, 1949

Folder 108

Park Development-Prarie Creek State Park

Folder 109

Park Development-San Luis Obispo, 1949

Folder 110

Park Development-San Luis Obispo, 1949


California State Park Commission

Box 12, Folder 111

State Park Maps

Folder 112

State Park Publicity

Folder 113

Printed Material-Columbia Park

Folder 114

Printed Material-State Parks

Folder 115

State Park Legislation-1940's

Folder 116

State Park Newspaper Clippings, 1943-1949

Folder 117

State Park Miscellaneous

Folder 118



California Centennial Celebration

Box 13, Folder 119

History of the California Centennial Celebration

Folder 120

Resolutions in Support of the Centennial

Folder 121

Centennial Correspondence, 1941-1946

Folder 122

Centennial Memos, 1946-1950

Folder 123

Centennial Correspondence, January-June 1947

Folder 124

Centennial Correspondence, July-September 1947

Folder 125

Centennial Correspondence, October 1947

Folder 126

Centennial Correspondence, November-December 1947

Folder 127

Centennial Correspondence, January-February 1948

Folder 128

Centennial Correspondence, April-December 1948

Folder 129

California State Chamber of Commerce, 1948-1949

Box 14, Folder 130

Centennial Correspondence, 1949

Folder 131

Centennial Correspondence, January-March 1950

Folder 132

Centennial Correspondence, n.d.

Folder 133

Centennial Minutes, 1940-March 1949

Folder 134

Centennial Annual Report, 1948

Folder 135

Centennial Committee Reports, 1947-1950

Folder 136

Bay Area Centennial Programs

Folder 137

California County Centennial Programs

Folder 138

California County Centennial Programs

Box 15, Folder 139

Talks by Committee Members

Folder 140

Historical Presentations for the Centennial

Folder 141

Printed Material on Centennial Sites

Folder 142


Folder 143

Centennial Newspaper Clippings

Folder 144


Box 16, Folder 145

California State Chamber of Commerce, 1944-1946

Folder 146

Joseph Knowland Congressional Speech, 1913

Folder 147

William Knowland Senate Speech, 1947

Folder 148

Articles on California Elections, 1915, 1940's

Folder 149

Articles on National Elections, 1917, 1940's

Folder 150

Articles on Labor-Management, 1940's

Folder 151