John Center Papers mssCE

Gayle Richardson
The Huntington Library
November 2020
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108

Contributing Institution: The Huntington Library
Title: John Center papers
Creator: Center, John, 1817-1908
Identifier/Call Number: mssCE
Physical Description: 7.2 Linear Feet (6 boxes)
Date (inclusive): 1849-1884
Abstract: A collection of material related to the personal and professional life of John Center, San Francisco businessman and civic leader.
Language of Material: Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for use by qualified researchers and by appointment. Please contact Reader Services at the Huntington Library for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

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]. John Center papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from Albert Dressler, April 1926.

Biographical / Historical

John Center (1817-1908) was born in Aberdeenshire, Scotland and came to the United States in 1836. Center settled first in Wisconsin then moved to California in 1849 to seek his fortune in gold; however, he decided to engage in the gardening business instead of mining and settled in San Francisco. He became involved in many enterprises, including the nursery business, real estate, and mining speculation. In 1863 he established the Center Company for mining in California's Owens Valley. Center promoted the expansion and civic improvement of San Francisco, especially in the Mission District where he first settled.

Scope and Contents

A collection of 362 items which contains letters, documents, and one map (1849-1884) related to the various enterprises of John Center. These include his gardening business, real estate, mining transactions, and civic enterprises in San Francisco from 1849 to 1884. Also included are papers regarding the Center Company, water rights, and mining in the Owens Valley in 1863.

Processing Information

Processed by Huntington Library Staff, circa 1930. In 2020, Gayle Richardson created the finding aid derived from a legacy in-house summary report.


Arranged chronologically.


Individual call numbers included in the collection: mssCE 1-362.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Gardening -- California -- San Francisco
Mines and mineral resources -- California, Northern
Mines and mineral resources -- California -- Owens Valley
Real property -- California -- San Francisco
Water rights -- California -- Owens Valley
California -- History -- 19th century
Owens Valley (Calif.)
San Francisco (Calif.) -- Commerce
Business papers -- California -- 19th century
Letters (correspondence) -- California -- 19th century
Center Company

Box 1, Folder 1-46


Box 2, Folder 1-75


Box 3, Folder 1-66


Box 4, Folder 1-60


Box 5, Folder 1-49


Box 6, Folder 1-68