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Inventory of the Starr P. Gurcke Papers
MS 8  
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This collection includes translations of California pre-statehood documents as well as some research materials and work papers.
Starr Pait was born in San Jose, California in 1911. She graduated from San Jose State and received a master's degree in Germanic languages from Stanford. While on a fellowship to Germany she met and fell in love with Werner Gurcke. They married in 1936 in Santa Cruz, California before leaving for San José, Costa Rica where Werner Gurcke had previously immigrated. There they started a family and Gurcke developed a thriving import-export business in Costa Rica, dealing in buttons, umbrellas and Hamilton watches. But because he was still a German citizen, Werner Gurcke's business was one of 340 blacklisted by the Costa Rican government, under pressure from the United States. He and his brother were arrested without explanation in July 1942. Six months later, the whole family was put on the U.S. Army transport ship Puebla. Werner Gurcke spent all three weeks in the hold of the ship, while Starr Gurcke -- described in a Department of Justice document as "sort of (an) American citizen" -- and her two young daughters slept in a cramped cabin with other families. When the Puebla landed in San Pedro, Calif., immigration officials finally told Werner Gurcke their reason for holding him: he had entered the United States illegally. He was not allowed legal counsel, and he and his family were taken by train to Crystal City, a former camp for farmworkers. Since Werner Gurcke was married to a U.S. citizen, he was granted "internment at large" 18 months later at his first hearing.
8 document boxes
Property rights reside with the University of California. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permission to publish or to reproduce the material, please contact the Head of Special Collections and Archives.
Collection open for research.