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Finding aid to the Charles Bolton Papers on Community Organizing 1968-1988 SFH 579
SFH 579  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Provenance
  • Related materials
  • Conservation Note
  • Materials Transferred
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement

  • Title: Charles Bolton Papers on Community Organizing
    Date (inclusive): 1968-1988
    Identifier/Call Number: SFH 579
    Creator: Bolton, Charles
    Physical Description: 3 cartons, 1 pamphlet box (3.25 Cubic Feet)
    Contributing Institution: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library
    100 Larkin Street
    San Francisco, CA 94102
    (415) 557-4567
    Abstract: Charles Bolton was a community organizer active in the Mission District and Bernal Heights in San Francisco. He worked with the Mission Coalition Organization, a community action group that advocated for the residents of the mission district, and the Model Cities Agency, a component of U.S. President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society and War on Poverty.
    Physical Location: The collection is stored off-site.
    Language of Materials: Collection materials are in English with some Spanish.

    Conditions Governing Access

    The collection is available for use during San Francisco History Center hours, with photographs available during Photo Desk hours. Collections that are stored offsite should be requested 48 hours in advance.

    Publication Rights

    All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the City Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the San Francisco Public Library as the owner of the physical items.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Charles Bolton Papers on Community Organizing (SFH 579), San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.


    Donated to the library by Charles Bolton February, 2016.

    Related materials

    Researchers are encouraged to see also SFH 81, Communities of the Outer Mission Organization Records [1963]-1986 (bulk 1973-1978) and to check the library catalog.

    Conservation Note

    During processing, the entire collection was re-foldered and re-housed in acid-free folders and boxes. Some metal staples remain.

    Materials Transferred

    Photographs have been transferred to the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection.


    Charles Bolton
    Charles Bolton was a community organizer active in the Mission District and Bernal Heights in San Francisco. He served as Director of Evaluation and Research with the Model Cities Agency (MCA) and worked for the Mission Coalition Organization (MCO), as a Robert Kennedy Memorial employee, during the early 1970s. Bolton's work brought him into contact with many neighborhood improvement organizations. Significant organizations found in the collection are introduced below.
    Mission Coalition Organization (MCO) 1968-1973
    The MCO was a broad-based coalition of over 200 neighborhood groups that advocated for the residents of the Mission District and worked with Mayor Joseph Alioto to attain a five-year Model Cities grant for the Inner Mission. The MCO was a federation formed to act on many issues within the community. Although predominantly a Latino organization which included many recent immigrants from South America, Mexico and Central America the Coalition also included Anglos, African Americans, and Asians. Coalition members included merchants, unions, tenants, homeowners, welfare recipients, youth, senior citizens, cultural groups, churches, and neighborhood agencies. Committees organized around issues such as housing, education and health. MCO Presidents included Ben Martinez and Carlos Carrillo.
    During their active years the MCO was influential and considered the authoritative voice for the Mission District. Working closely with the Model Cities Agency the MCO accomplished a great deal for the Mission. Key issues included housing, education and health. They made significant contributions in child care (Mission Childcare Consortium was a subsidiary group of MCO), they successfully advocated for the redevelopment of the Regal Pale brewery site, they secured home improvement loans for median and low income families, acquired local jobs for residents (specifically at Pacific Bell, and PG&E), and they sponsored the Victorian Alliance. The MCO also protested erotic movie houses and effectively encouraged said businesses to change their business model to show family friendly movies. The MCO feared the Mission District would be redeveloped in the same pattern they witnessed in the Western Addition where blocks of housing were demolished. To combat this they secured low interest home repair loans for Mission residents from Crocker National Bank.
    Mission Planning Council (MPC) 1973-?
    The Mission Planning Council (MPC) formed in 1973 from a group split off from the Mission Coalition Organization. Presidents of the MPC included Luisa Ezquervo and Toby Levine. Ramon Barbieri, who served as head of San Francisco's Model Cities Program, also served as chairman of MPC.
    The MPC worked to attain renting rights for families with young children, supported turning the National Guard Armory (16th Street) into a community center, and wanted to retain the Sears building (located at Mission and Cesar Chavez) for commercial use and not see it used as a government building. They also supported the development of Mini Parks and wanted to limit pornography store locations in the Mission.
    Communities of the Outer Mission Organization (COMO) 1974-1978
    Communities of the Outer Mission Organization (COMO) represented Bernal Heights, Portola, North and South Excelsior, and the Crocker Amazon district. COMO Presidents included Rose Sarao, Steve Rabisa and Tom Moore.
    COMO wanted more police officers, educational services, more regulations on dogs, and they worked to install traffic signals to calm traffic flow. To save jobs they championed keeping the Sears Department Store at Mission and Cesar Chavez open. When the store eventually closed they campaigned to maintain the space for retail use but the building was turned into government offices. They also advocated for cleaning up McLaren Park and organized block clubs.
    All People's Coalition (APC) 1972-1979
    The All People's Coalition was a local action group who served as a community watchdog for Visitation Valley and Sunnydale districts. Presidents of the coalition included Ronald C. Morton and Don Horanzy. APC advocated for more stop signs for their neighborhood, and improved living conditions in Geneva Towers. They successfully advocated that a stoplight be installed on a hazardous corner where one child was killed.

    Scope and Content

    The collection contains papers from the late 1960s and early 1970s that focus on the Mission District, and papers from the 1980s that focus on the Bernal Heights neighborhood. Since there is a large amount of overlap between the two groups they are both found within the series Community Organizing. The collection contains by-laws for several neighborhood associations including the Mission Coalition Organization, the Communities of the Outer Mission Organization and the Mission Planning Council. The series Community Organizing contains documents associated with the running and organizing of neighborhood associations. The collection also contains a small amount of papers created by the Model Cities Agency in the Model City Study Groups series. Further series include Training materials on how to organize community groups, as well as elections and studies and reports. The collection also contains a handful of snapshots, slides and one cassette.


    The collection is arranged in 6 series: Series 1: By-laws, Series 2: Community Organizing, Series 3: Model Cities Study Group, Series 4: Training Materials on How to Community Organize, Series 5: Elections, Series 6: Studies and Reports.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Mission Coalition Organization -- San Francisco, Calif.
    Mission Model Neighborhood -- San Francisco, Calif.
    Mission District (San Francisco, Calif.).
    Bernal Heights -- (San Francisco, Calif.)
    Community organization -- California -- San Francisco.