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Gurdon Wallace Wattles Papers: Finding Aid
mssWattles papers  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note of Gurdon Wallace Wattles
  • Biographical Note of Gurdon Wallace Wattles, Jr.
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing: Added Entries
  • Indexing: Subjects
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: Gurdon Wallace Wattles Papers
    Dates (inclusive): 1894-1965
    Bulk dates: 1918-1950
    Collection Number: mssWattles papers
    Creator: Wattles, Gurdon Wallace, 1855-1932.
    Extent: 1,650 items in 9 boxes
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2129
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: This collection contains the papers of American businessman Gurdon Wallace Wattles (1855-1932) of Omaha, Nebraska, and Hollywood, California. The papers chiefly dating from 1918-1950 consist of correspondence, as well as some manuscripts of Wattles and Ephemera. The correspondence primarily deals with business matters in both Nebraska and California, family news and business, and there are many which describe the Wattles House and Gardens in Hollywood, especially the decorating of the Italian garden.
    Language: English.

    Access

    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. Gurdon Wallace Wattles Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Provenance

    Gift of K. Joseph Hustek, December 1980.

    Biographical Note of Gurdon Wallace Wattles

    Gurdon Wallace Wattles (1855-1932) was born in 1855 in Tioga County, New York. His family moved to Iowa in 1868. He taught school and graduated from Iowa State University in 1876. He married Abigail Jane “Jennie” Leete in 1882 and started his banking career. Wattles moved to Omaha, Nebraska, in 1892, where he became a leading businessman. His career expanded with his success as the chairman of the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition in 1897. He organized the event which brought 2.6 million people to the state and elevated his presence in the Midwest.
    In 1905, Wattles bought ninety acres of land in Hollywood, California. He commissioned a house to be designed by Myron Hunt and Elmer Grey, architects of the Henry E. Huntington estate, Pasadena Playhouse and the Beverly Hills Hotel. The house was completed in 1908, and Wattles began creating gardens for the property. The gardens consisted of a rose garden, an Italian garden, an American garden and a Japanese garden imported from Japan.
    Sometime after the completion of their house, the Wattles adopted two sisters, Margaret Elizabeth and Mary Louise. The Wattles’ first child, Frederick, died at the age of three and Abigail Wattles was instructed to not have any more children. In 1916, Abigail Wattles became very ill and died in May of that year.
    After his wife’s death, Wattles sent his daughters to a Massachusetts boarding school, and he divided his time between Omaha and Hollywood. He was appointed the Federal Food Administrator for Nebraska where he met his future wife, Julia Vance. Vance was the director of the home economics department at the University of Nebraska and was in her late 30s at the time of their marriage. They were married in 1918.
    Gurdon and Julia Wattles moved to Hollywood in 1920, so that their child would be born in California. Gurdon thought that he would retire in California, but set up a side business with Henry Workman Keller. He later branched out on his own and faired rather well in the real estate business. He died in 1932, leaving a large estate to his wife and son, and trust funds for his two daughters.

    Biographical Note of Gurdon Wallace Wattles, Jr.

    Gurdon Wallace Wattles, Jr. (1920-1995), son of Gurdon Wallace Wattles (1855-1932) and Julia Vance Wattles, grew up in Hollywood, California, attended John Burroughs Junior High School, and graduated from Hollywood High School in 1938. He matriculated to Harvard in 1939 and graduated in 1942. He was an officer for Navy Intelligence during World War II and was stationed in the South Pacific. After the war, Gurdon returned to Harvard for his law degree, graduating in 1949. He joined the staff of the United Nations Secretariat, Legal Counsel in 1950 and served there for 26 years. He married twice and had two sons, two daughters, a step-son and 6 grandchildren at the time of his death.

    Scope and Content

    The collection consists of 26 items in the Manuscripts series, 1,263 items in the Correspondence series and 361 pieces of Ephemera.
    The manuscripts mainly consist of speeches or short pieces written by Gurdon Wallace Wattles regarding business practices, Nebraska, and his political views. It also includes scripts written by True Boardman.
    The majority of the correspondence is from Gurdon Wallace Wattles or addressed to him. These letters deal with his business matters in both Nebraska and California, family news and business, and there are many which describe the Wattles House and Gardens, especially the decorating of the Italian garden. There are also letters pertaining to the disposition of his will. Another set of letters describes Wattles’ investment in a company which explored sound in film technology.
    The Ephemera section contains material relating to the Wattles family and their life in California. Among these materials are drawings for the Italian garden, weddings plans for the two daughters, membership cards, invitations to private and public events and photographs of the family on vacation and at the Wattles property. There are also materials related to the disposition of Wattles’ will, some business papers and materials related to musicians the Wattles’ supported.
    Participants include: Harry Chandler, Herbert Hoover, Henry Workman Keller, Robert Andrews Millikan, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Gurdon Wallace Wattles, Jr., and the Republican National Committee. Subjects in the collection include: Beverly Hills Hotel; Los Angeles history; Los Angeles gardens; Hollywood, California; Motion picture industry in New York; Hot Springs, South Dakota; Los Angeles Newspapers; Omaha, Nebraska; Universal City, California; Herbert Hoover; Henry Workman Keller; and correspondence from World War, 1939-1945.

    Arrangement

    Arranged in three series: Manuscripts; Correspondence; and Ephemera.

    Indexing: Added Entries

    Chandler, Harry, 1864-1944
    • Addressee of letters (1928-1929) by Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932. Box 5 (16).
    Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964
    • Addressee of letters and telegrams (1923-1929) by Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932. Box 6 (2).
    • Addressee of telegram (1928, June 15) by Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932 and Julia Vance Wattles. Box 7 (44).
    Keller, Henry Workman, 1869-1958
    • Addressee of letters (1926-1931) by Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932. Box 6 (10).
    Vanderbilt, Cornelius, 1898-1974
    • Addressee of letters (1923-1924) by Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932. Box 7 (25).

    Indexing: Subjects

    Beverly Hills Hotel
    • Subject in Margaret J. Anderson letter (1928, Nov. 18) to Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855- 1932. Box 1 (25).
    • Subject in Jessie Hubbard postcard (1934, Dec. 20) to Julia Vance Wattles. Box 3 (7).
    Gardens – California – Los Angeles
    • Subject in The Wattles Gardens [after 1930] essay by C.O. Coffin. Box 1 (5).
    • Subject in Oreste Andreini letters (1927-1928) to Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932. Box 1 (26).
    • Subject in Arminio Conte letters and telegram (1927-1928) to Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932. Box 2 (18).
    • Subject in W.J. Dodd letters (1926-1928) to Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932. Box 2 (38).
    • Subject in John Theodore Hillquist letter (1927, May 27) to Arminio Conte. Box 2 (65).
    • Subject in James Loudon & Co. letter (1928, May 29) to Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855- 1932. Box 3 (14).
    • Subject in Los Angeles (Calif.). Dept. of Public Works letter (1948, Mar. 12) to Los Angeles (Calif.). Bureau of Engineering. Box 3 (38).
    • Subject in Ed S. Miller letter (1919, Mar. 4) to Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932. Box 3 (57).
    • Subject in Los Angeles (Calif.). Dept. of Water and Power letter (1927, Nov. 22) to Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932. Box 3 (39).
    • Subject in Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932 letters (1928) to Oreste Andreini. Box 5 (5).
    • Subject in Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932 letters and telegrams (1922-1929) to Mary Louise Wattles Bryans. Box 5 (12).
    • Subject in Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932 letters and telegram (1927-1928) to Arminio Conte. Box 5 (20).
    • Subject in Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932 letters (1926-1928) to William J. Dodd. Box 5 (33).
    • Subject in Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932. 1 letter (1928, Mar. 13) to Guy B. Barham Co. Box 5 (52).
    • Subject in Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932 letters and telegrams (1922-1931) to John Theodore Hillquist. Box 5 (57).
    • Subject in Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932 letters (1923-1927) to Los Angeles (Calif.). Dept. of Water and Power. Box 6 (21).
    • Subject in [Julia Vance Wattles] letters (1965) to Los Angeles (Calif.). Dept. of Water and Power. Box 7 (57).
    • Subject in Ephemera: Wattles House and Gardens (1927-1941). Box 8 (25).
    • Subject in Photographs ([1918]-[1927]). Box 9 (6).
    Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964
    • Subject in Untitled manuscript beginning, “So many conflicting statements have been made regarding Herbert Hoover…” [1928] by [Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932]. Box 1 (12).
    • Subject in Leo C. Monahan letter (1925, Apr. 15) to Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932. Box 3 (63).
    • Subject in Republican National Committee letter (1928, Aug. 8) to Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932. Box 4 (9).
    • Subject in Lawrence Richey, 1885-1959 letters (1929) to Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855- 1932. Box 4 (11).
    • Subject in Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932 letters (1928-1929) to Harry Chandler, 1864-1944. Box 5 (16).
    • Subject in Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932 letter (1930, June 2) to Editor of the A.R.A. Association Review. Box 5 (37).
    • Subject in Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932 letters and telegrams (1923-1929) to Herbert Hoover, 1874-1964. Box 6 (2).
    • Subject in Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932 letter (1925, Apr. 21) to Lee C. Monahan. Box 6 (39).
    • Subject in Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932 letter (1928, Aug. 16) to Republican National Committee. Box 6 (67).
    • Subject in Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932 and Julia Vance Wattles telegram (1928, June 15) to Herbert Hoover, 1874-1964. Box 7 (44).
    Hot Springs (S.D.)
    • Subject in M.F. Harrington letters (1923-1925) to Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932. Box 2 (60).
    • Subject in John Theodore Hillquist letters (1924-1931) to Constance H. Wattles. Box 3 (1).
    • Subject in Bert W. Wattles letters (1923-1924) to Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932. Box 4 (72).
    • Subject in Constance H. Wattles letters (1924-1931) to Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855- 1932. Box 5 (1).
    • Subject in Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932 letters (1923-1924) to M.F. Harrington. Box 5 (55).
    • Subject in Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932 letters and telegrams (1922-1931) to John Theodore Hillquist. Box 5 (57).
    • Subject in Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932 letters (1923-1924) to Bert W. Wattles. Box 7 (30).
    • Subject in Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932 letters (1924-1931) to Constance H. Wattles. Box 7 (31).
    • Subject in Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932 letters (1926) to Max McGraw.
    Keller, Henry Workman, 1869-1958
    • Subject in Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932 letters and telegrams (1922-1931) to John Theodore Hillquist. Box 5 (57).
    • Subject in Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932 letter (1928, June 13) to A.G. Quirk. Box 6 (63).
    • Subject in Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932 letters (1923-1927) to John McHugh. Box 6 (36).
    • Subject in Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932 letters (1922-1931) to Mary Wattles McHugh. Box 6 (37).
    Motion picture industry – New York (State) – New York
    • Subject in Meeting Notes (1928-1931) by Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932. Box 1 (9).
    • Subject in Phil Goldstone letters and telegram (1928-1929) to Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932. Box 2 (38).
    • Subject in Perry A. Hull letters (1929-1930) to Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932. Box 3 (9).
    • Subject in Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932 letters (1928-1930) to Phil Goldstone, 1893- 1963. Box 5 (46).
    • Subject in Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932 letter (1928, Dec. 7) to Phil Goldstone, 1893-1963 and Alfred Weiss. Box 5 (48).
    • Subject in Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932 letters (1929-1930) to Perry A. Hull. Box 6 (4).
    • Subject in Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932 letters (1928-1929) to Alfred Weiss. Box 7 (39).
    • Subject in Alfred Weiss letters (1928-1929) to Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932. Box 7 (65).
    Newspapers – California – Los Angeles
    • Subject in Joseph Polcar letters (1927) to Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932. Box 4 (3).
    • Subject in Cornelius Vanderbilt, 1898-1974 letters (1923-1924) to Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932. Box 4 (63).
    • Subject in Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932 letter (1927, Feb. 7) to Joseph Polcar. Box 6 (56).
    • Subject in Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932 letters (1923-1924) to Cornelius Vanderbilt, 1898-1974. Box 7 (25).
    Universal City (Calif.)
    • Subject in Harry H. Culver letters (1928-1931) to Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932. Box 2 (30).
    • Subject in Harry H. Culver and Arthur Bacon letter (1929, Mar. 4) to Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932 and Julia Vance Wattles. Box 2 (31).
    • Subject in Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932 letter (1930-1931) to Harry H. Culver. Box 5 (26).
    • Subject in L.O. Hopkins letter (1931, Nov. 25) to Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932. Box 3 (6).
    • Subject in Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1855-1932 letter (1931, Nov. 27) to L.O. Hopkins. Box 6 (3).
    • Subject in Ephemera: Miscellaneous (1920-1941). Box 8 (24).

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  

    Subjects

    Wattles, Gurdon Wallace, 1855-1932.
    Beverly Hills Hotel.
    Gardens -- California -- Los Angeles.
    Motion picture industry -- New York (State) -- New York.
    American newspapers -- California -- Los Angeles.
    World War, 1939-1945 -- Correspondence.
    California -- History -- 20th century -- Sources.
    Hollywood (Los Angeles, Calif.)
    Hot Springs (S.D.)
    Los Angeles (Calif.) -- History -- 20th century -- Sources.
    Omaha (Neb.)
    Universal City (Calif.)

    Forms/Genres

    Letters (correspondence) -- United States -- 20th century.
    Manuscripts -- United States -- 20th century.
    Radio scripts -- United States -- 20th century.
    Speeches -- United States -- 20th century.

    Additional Contributors

    Boardman, True.
    Chandler, Harry, 1864-1944.
    Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964.
    Keller, Henry Workman, 1869-1958.
    Millikan, Robert Andrews, 1868-1953.
    Vanderbilt, Cornelius, 1898-1974.
    Wattles, Gurdon Wallace, 1920-1995.
    Republican National Committee (U.S.)