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Guide to the Lester Earnest Collection MS 296
MS 296  
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Collection Details
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  • Biographical / Historical Notes
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Preferred Citation
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Processing Information

  • Title: Lester Earnest Collection
    Identifier/Call Number: MS 296
    Contributing Institution: San Diego History Center Document Collection
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 21.0 Linear feet (24 boxes)
    Date (bulk): Bulk, 1934-1978
    Date (inclusive): 1904-1978
    Abstract: The collection is composed of documents created or acquired by Lester Earnest during his employment with the City of San Diego from 1948-1971, primarily related to city finances, land use, parks and recreation, and community development.
    creator: Earnest, Lester

    Biographical / Historical Notes

    Lester (Les) Elvin Earnest (24 April 1905 – 27 February 2001) grew up in North Loup, Nebraska, and Montrose, Colorado. His family moved to San Diego in June 1923. Earnest studied electrical engineering at San Diego State College (now San Diego State University) from 1924-1926, and later, public administration. Earnest married Sue Mable Wolfer on 22 November 1928 in Yuma, Arizona. Sue Earnest (1907-2007) was a professor in the Speech Pathology and Audiology Department at San Diego State College from 1947 to 1973. The Earnests had two children, Lester D. and Patricia (Boyle), and lived in the Mission Hills neighborhood on Fort Stockton Drive.
    Prior to working for the City of San Diego, Earnest held management positions at several companies throughout the country. These included Gunnison Homes (a subsidiary of U.S. Steel) in New Albany, Indiana, Solar Aircraft (in both San Diego and Des Moines, Iowa), Tube Turns, Inc. in Louisville, Kentucky, and Fruehauf Trailer Company Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Earnest began his career with the City of San Diego in 1948 and would remain there until his retirement in 1971.
    Lester was first hired by the City as Park and Recreation Business Manager, a position he held until 1951 when he became Assistant City Budget Officer. He remained in that department for nine years, becoming the City Budget Officer in 1955. In 1960, under a special assignment as Assistant to the City Manager, Earnest reorganized and combined the Mission Bay Park and the Park and Recreation Departments. Later that year, Earnest was promoted to Park and Recreation Director. His duties in this role included planning, development, and operation of Mission Bay Park as well as site selection, design, development, and maintenance of parks throughout San Diego. From 1964-1967, Earnest returned to the role of Assistant to the City Manager and served as the Executive Secretary of the Mayor’s Municipal Finance Committee. Earnest’s final position with the City of San Diego was Assistant Community Development Director (1967-1971). This department was responsible for coordinating Citizen Community Planning and Development groups as well as Model Cities, Leased Housing, City College Redevelopment, and many other programs that served disadvantaged groups. Earnest also served as San Diego director of the federally-funded Urban Observatory research program.
    Besides his work for the City of San Diego, Earnest was also a lecturer in the Department of Public Administration and Urban Studies at San Diego State College in the early 1970s and served on the boards of the Conference of National Park Coordinating Associations, the Cabrillo Historical Society, the San Diego Lions Club, and the Blind Recreation Center.

    Scope and Content

    The collection is primarily comprised of documents created or acquired by Lester Earnest during his employment with the City of San Diego from 1948-1971. Given his roles within the municipal government, many of the documents relate to city finances, land use, parks and recreation, and community development. Of particular significance are the documents pertaining to the development of Mission Bay Park. Other items in the collection include San Diego ephemera, newspaper and magazine articles, and publications about state government, local government, and economic issues.


    This collection is arranged into 14 series by subject:
    Series I: San Diego City Planning;
    Series II: Community Plans;
    Series III: Economic Development;
    Series IV: City of San Diego Finances;
    Series V: County of San Diego Finances;
    Series VI: Urban Observatory;
    Series VII: Water Resources & Flood Control;
    Series VIII: Sports Facilities;
    Series IX: Parks and Recreation Facilities;
    Series X: Mission Bay;
    Series XI: Balboa Park;
    Series XII: San Diego Miscellanea;
    Series XIII: State of California;
    Series XIV: Miscellaneous Publications.

    Preferred Citation

    Lester Earnest Collection, MS 296, San Diego History Center Document Archives, San Diego, CA.

    Conditions Governing Access

    This collection is open for research.

    Conditions Governing Use

    The San Diego History Center (SDHC) holds the copyright to any unpublished materials. SDHC Library regulations do apply.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Accession: 2003.126

    Processing Information

    Collection processed by Frank Sweeney in 2013.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Public Facilities Financing Authority of the City of San Diego.
    San Diego (Calif.). Citizens' Advisory Committee on the General Plan.
    San Diego (Calif.). Department of Finance.
    San Diego (Calif.). Land Planning Division.
    San Diego (Calif.). Mayor's Committee on Municipal Finance.
    San Diego (Calif.). Office of the City Manager.
    San Diego (Calif.). Park and Recreation Citizens Study Committee .
    San Diego (Calif.). Park and Recreation Department.
    San Diego (Calif.). Planning Commission.
    San Diego (Calif.). Planning Department. Urban Renewal Section.
    San Diego County (Calif.). Office of Management and Budget.
    San Diego Natural History Museum.
    San Diego Planetarium Authority.
    San Diego Stadium (San Diego, Calif.).
    Urban Observatory of San Diego.
    Balboa Park (San Diego, Calif.)
    City Planning -- California -- San Diego
    Clairemont (San Diego, Calif.)
    Economic development
    Flood control
    Gaslamp Quarter (San Diego, Calif.)
    Kearny Mesa (San Diego, Calif.)
    La Jolla (San Diego, Calif.)
    Local budgets
    Mira Mesa (San Diego, Calif.)
    Mission Bay Park (San Diego, Calif.)
    Mission Beach (San Diego, Calif.)
    Municipal government--California--San Diego.
    North Park (San Diego, Calif.)
    Ocean Beach (San Diego, Calif.)
    Old Town (San Diego, Calif.)
    Pacific Beach (San Diego, Calif.) -- Photographs
    Parks -- California -- San Diego
    Poway (Calif.)
    Rancho Bernardo (San Diego, Calif.)
    Regional planning--California--San Diego.
    San Diego (Calif.)
    San Diego (Calif.)--Description and travel
    San Diego (Calif.)--Economic policy.
    San Diego (Calif.)--Social conditions--20th century.
    Tierrasanta (San Diego, Calif.)
    University City (San Diego, Calif.)
    Water resources development--California--San Diego Region.