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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Scope and Contents note
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition note
  • Conditions Governing Use note
  • Biographical/Historical note
  • Conditions Governing Access note
  • Preferred Citation note
  • Related Archival Materials note
  • Separated Materials note

  • Title: Sue Higman Papers
    Identifier/Call Number: MS-18
    Contributing Institution: Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation. Presidio Research Center
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 2.0 Linear feet plus oversize items
    Date: 1888-1984
    Abstract: This collection consists of papers gathered by Sue Higman in her roles as board member and officer of several local Santa Barbara organizations, her correspondence on environmental issues, and papers related to the Early Mission Music Program.
    creator: Chase, Pearl
    creator: Community Arts Association of Santa Barbara. Plans and Planting Committee.
    creator: Higman, Sue

    Scope and Contents note

    This collection predominantly consists of papers gathered by Sue Higman in her roles as board member and officer of several local Santa Barbara organizations. The papers are arranged in six series and organized roughly chronologically within the series. Series 1 Community Arts Association records document about twelve years' worth of board activities of the Association and some of its activities. Most of the records were Higman's copies, but other earlier copies of financial papers, legal documents, and correspondence most likely originated from Pearl Chase or her office. One might presume that after Pearl Chase's death in 1979 Sue Higman became the caretaker of these records. Many more copies of early legal documents of the Association, such as the first articles of incorporation and bylaws, were contained in the original donation, but these materials had significant water damage and mold and could not be retained. It is important to note, however, that those records are also part of the Community Development and Conservation Collection (Mss 1) at UCSB Davidson Library Special Collections, and that these papers in the Higman collection are a logical continuation of the Community Arts Association (CAA) records.
    The CAA began in 1920 and was incorporated in 1922 as a non-profit organization with three branches: Drama, Music, and Plans and Planting. In 1923 it reincorporated to include the School of the Arts as a fourth branch. Its office was located at 912 Santa Barbara Street and thanks to a generous Carnegie Corporation grant, several buildings, including the Alhecama Theater and the arts classroom (now the Presidio Research Center) were constructed. The Higman CAA records document board meetings and activities of the Plans and Planting branch of the organization (its corporate arm) in the 1970s and early 1980s, after its heyday as the main organization responsible for the Spanish style architecture of Santa Barbara and the beautification of the city after the 1925 earthquake. During this period the board was dealing with the organization's loss of its non-profit status in 1975 after it became involved in the El Mirasol high rise development project and its pivotal decision to focus on and merge with the Alternative Comprehensive Community Environmental Study System (ACCESS) project in 1975 and the financial consequences of that decision. The ACCESS project received funding for a one-year pilot test, coordinated by UCSB through the U.S. Dept. of Health, Education and Welfare and lead by William Ewald, Jr. CAA entered into an agreement with UCSB as a subcontractor to offer office space, make purchases, and prepare reports, among other tasks. Unfortunately, the CAA did not have cash advances or the necessary funds to do its part without an additional loan of working capital from Pearl Chase. By 1984, the organization was down to one officer (Higman) and the members decided to wrap up CAA's business and made the decision to dissolve the corporation. A small set of folders of correspondence from Pearl Chase and clippings about her round out this series.
    Series 2 Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation contains board agendas, meeting minutes, correspondence, and papers related to several difficult issues that challenged the board during those years, such as management of the El Paseo complex. Series 3 Citizens Planning Association is a small group of papers related to the adobe tours that the Association sponsored in 1979.
    Series 4 Early Mission Music Program consists of planning documents, correspondence, programs, and publicity for a series of concerts, funded by the California State Parks Foundation and performed by the John Biggs Consort in 1974, 1976, and 1984. Included are audio recordings of the music. Series 5 Environmental Issues is mostly correspondence from Higman to legislators and Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall regarding the preservation of Rainbow Bridge as a natural monument and the establishment of Point Reyes National Seashore. Also included are local trail inventories for the Los Padres Chapter of the Sierra Club. Series 6 Books and Ephemera is an eclectic group of books and papers whose provenance is mostly unknown. It is possible that the papers from Julia Parsons and the book on Mont Saint-Michel may have come from Pearl Chase, as she wrote a note about Parsons. However, it is unclear where the handmade books came from. The book Santa Barbara Songs once belonged to Sue's father Arthur Baat. The Midget is a publication from Santa Barbara Junior High where Sue was a student.
    Series 7 Photographs include a number of images of Mission La Purisima, the newly built Lobero Theater and its environs, as well as a historic photo of the artist Ed Borein's southwest-style house.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition note

    Gift from Jim Higman in 2008.

    Conditions Governing Use note

    All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Associate Director for Historical Resources. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation Research Center 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.

    Biographical/Historical note

    Susanna Baat Higman was born in 1920 and grew up and lived in Santa Barbara her entire life. She is best known for her volunteerism with civic, cultural, historical and environmental organizations and activities. Taught a love of nature by her father Arthur, who took her hiking and backpacking, she devoted much time and energy from 1954 on to the Sierra Club and the California State Parks Foundation, as well as to many local organizations such as GOO (Get Oil Out), the Community Environmental Council, Small Wilderness Area Preserves, and the Santa Barbara County Environmental Resources Panel, to name a few. Besides the environment, Higman cared deeply about the reconstruction of El Presidio de Santa Barbara and was a member and secretary of the board of trustees for the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation for many years, becoming a life honorary trustee in 2003. She was an officer of the Citizens Planning Association for many years, and worked with Pearl Chase on the Plans and Planting Committee of the Community Arts Association for many years, becoming Treasurer in the 1970s and eventually becoming its president in 1982. Higman was also active on the Citizens Advisory Committee of La Purisima Mission State Historic Park and received an award in 1975 for her contributions. Her love of history also fostered her interest in early mission music and she helped put on a series of music programs at missions around the state, sponsored by the California State Parks Foundation.
    Sue Higman had a close relationship with Pearl Chase. Chase called her my best girl and told her you are rendering a fine service for [the] community and whole area. I'm fortunate to be in the inner circle of your friends. In another letter she praised Higman's community involvement: You are helping at the crossroads of Planning--Mission Music, Community Arts and Access--quite a load! Backpackers are important; let's train some more. Being one of Pearl's Girls, Higman helped organize the annual Pearl Chase birthday luncheons and was instrumental in establishing a city memorial plaque to Pearl and Harold Chase at Chase Palm Park. In 1997 she received the Pearl Chase Preservation and Conservation Award from the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Trust established the Sue Higman Volunteer of the Year Award in 2010 in her honor.

    Conditions Governing Access note

    Collection is open to researchers.

    Preferred Citation note

    Sue Higman Papers, MS-18, Presidio Research Center, Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, Santa Barbara, California.

    Related Archival Materials note

    The papers of the Plans and Planting branch of the Community Arts Association in this collection continue those in the Community Development and Conservation Collection at UCSB (SBHC Mss 1) given to UCSB by Pearl Chase. Sue Higman served as treasurer and president of the CAA and kept the rest of the records from the 1970s and 1980s together.
    For additional material about Pearl Chase, see also the Pearl Chase Papers at the Santa Barbara Trust For Historic Preservation (MS-01).

    Separated Materials note

    Several books and pamphlets were removed from the papers and added to the library collection.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Chase, Pearl
    Higman, Sue
    Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.
    Historic preservation--California--Santa Barbara County.
    Mission music
    Photographic prints
    Santa Barbara (Calif.)--Buildings, structures, etc.
    Santa Barbara Presidio (Santa Barbara, Calif.)--History.