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Inventory of the Starr P. Gurcke Papers
MS 8  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Starr P. Gurcke papers
    Dates: 1965-1990
    Collection number: MS 8
    Creator: Gurcke, Starr P.
    Collection Size: 8 document boxes
    Repository: University of California, Santa Cruz. University Library. Special Collections and Archives
    Santa Cruz, California 95064
    Abstract: This collection includes translations of California pre-statehood documents as well as some research materials and work papers.
    Physical location: Stored in Special Collections & Archives: Advance notice is required for access to the papers.
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English, Spanish


    Collection open for research.

    Publication Rights

    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.

    Preferred Citation

    Starr P. Gurcke papers. MS 8. Special Collections and Archives, University Library, University of California, Santa Cruz.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Heidi Donald 1996


    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.
    The family moved to the Seabright area of Santa Cruz, where the Pait family had a beach bungalow. On Feb. 25, 1946, Gurcke got a letter from immigration authorities saying that he was no longer considered an enemy alien. It was the same day an immigration officer knocked on his door to ask him to sign a document admitting he was in the United States illegally. His boss and 18 neighbors petitioned the government, saying that deportation would result in extreme hardship for his wife and children and deprive the country of "an intelligent, cultured, responsible resident." After a three-year legal battle, he was exonerated of having entered the country illegally. In 1952, he became a U.S. citizen, pledging to fight all enemies, foreign and domestic. Werner Gurcke died of cancer in 1970 at age 61.
    After Werner's death, Starr used her linguistic talents translating documents for local historians and the County of Santa Cruz. She died in Santa Cruz in 1997 at age 86.
    Excerpted with permissions from the San Jose Mercury News article Loss of Rights, posted on Thus, Jan. 30, 2003

    Scope and Content of Collection

    Starr Gurcke translated California pre-statehood documents concerning Mission Santa Cruz and Villa de Branciforte for local historians and the County of Santa Cruz. The following includes names of the collections where she found documents about Villa de Branciforte and Santa Cruz.
    • Translations of pre-statehood documents: Villa de Branciforte, 1797-1859
    • Santa Cruz Mission Annual & Biennial Reports, 1791-1840
    • County of Santa Cruz - collection of early documents, ca. 1844-1865
    • Alcalde of the Villa de Branciforte, 1st & 2nd Constitutional Court - January-May, 1844, etc.
    • Santa Barbara Mission Archives - H L. Lummis House
    • Account Book of Mission Santa Cruz, 1792-1822
    • Mission Santa Cruz Reports, 1806, 1809, 1833
    • General Inventory of the Mission Santa Cruz, Aug.24, 1834
    • Miscellaneous letters from Santa Barbara Mission Archives - 1794, 1809-1844; from the De la Guerra Collection, Santa Barbara Mission Archives - 1815-1834; Mission Santa Cruz Letters - 1813; From the estate of Rosario Curletti, Santa Barbara Mission Archives
    • Bancroft Library - Present Condition of California - General Report to the Viceroy, May 11, 1796 by Fr. Isidro Alonzo Salazar; "Priest's letters and Mission Accounts" - Santa Cruz - 1807-1846; Letters from BL Vallejo XXIX p.153 (1826), 232 (1838), 276 (1838), 489 (1824)
    • Archivo General de la Nacion Mexico - "Year of 1803 Californias - Jose Marcelino Bravo & other settlers of the Villa de Branciforte - concerning their moving to the site of Corralitos 6 Leagues distant from the Villa" - Bravo Expediente
    • San Francisco Chancery Archives - Letters concerning Mission Santa Cruz #234-768 - 1799-1817; #774-1399-2 - 1816-1820; #878-1660 - 1818-1824; Priest's Letters - 1816-1827
    • Huntington Library - Letters concerning Mission Santa Cruz - 1812-1852
    • Wallace B. Stevens Collection, University of Texas - Copy of the Report of the Royal Exchange and Minister in charge of the 2nd Naval Department concerning a new settlement in California titled "Branciforte" - 11/17/1795 - 12/17/1795; "Expediente concerning the Erection of the Villa de Branciforte in New California" - 1976, 1977, 1798, 1799, 1800-1803; J. S. Majors Original Grant from Governor Alvarado - 1839-1841
    • Monterey County Archives, Vallejo Collection - v.1 Criminal (ca. 1807-1833); #1-7/89, 401-586; 439-507 to 1807-1833; v.2 Criminal (1835-1837) #1-142; 143-256 to 1835-1837
    • MAMC Mexican Archives - Monterey County - Miscellaneous letters; Bolcoff Letters

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Gurcke, Starr Pait--Archives
    Missions, Spanish--California--History--19th century
    Branciforte (Calif.)--History
    Santa Cruz County (Calif.)--History
    California--History--To 1846
    Gurcke, Starr Pait, db. 1911