Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Bentel, (Dwight) Papers
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (88.38 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Related Materials
  • Preferred Citation
  • Arrangement
  • Scope and Contents
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Separated Materials
  • Bibliography

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: SJSU Special Collections & Archives
    Title: Dwight Bentel papers
    creator: Bentel, Dwight
    source: Lundstrom, Charlie Mack
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS.2004.04.02
    Physical Description: 10.85 Linear Feet 8 records boxes, 1 legal document box, and 1 flat record box
    Date (inclusive): 1905 - 2006
    Date (bulk): (Bulk 1934 - 2003)
    Abstract: Dr. Dwight E. Bentel was a noted professor of journalism at San Jose State University from 1934 through 1974, as well as the acknowledged founder of the school’s Department of Journalism. Dr. Bentel also had a lifelong passion for Death Valley, and spent many hours visiting, studying and researching the Valley and the people who inhabited it. The majority of the collection pertains to Death Valley, its inhabitants and its history. Death Valley related materials include articles from various publications, photocopies of books, and notes and manuscripts written by Dr. Bentel. Other materials in the Dwight Bentel Papers include notes and texts for talks on various topics, honors and recognitions, news clippings, personal and professional correspondence, and other memorabilia.

    Biographical / Historical

    Dr. Dwight E. Bentel was a noted professor of journalism and the acknowledged founder of the San Jose State College (later San Jose State University) Department of Journalism. The son of educators, Dr. Bentel was born in Walla Walla, Washington in 1909, relocating shortly afterward with his family to the San Francisco Bay Area. Dr. Bentel got his start in journalism as a copy boy and reporter for the San Jose Mercury News in 1928. He later worked for the Associated Press and the San Francisco Call-Bulletin while completing bachelor's and master's degrees at Stanford University in the early 1930’s.
    Dwight Bentel was hired by San Jose State College President T. W. MacQuarrie in 1934 and given one year to establish a journalism program. Dr. Bentel accepted the challenge and developed a department that became one of the largest of its kind in the nation, with six of its graduates winning Pulitzer Prizes in journalism. Except for a three year period (1942-1945) during which he worked on his doctorate at Columbia University and reported on the war effort, Dr. Bentel remained at San Jose State University until his retirement in 1974.
    Dr. Bentel had broad interests, which included the subjects of freedom of the press, libel, photography, and the history of SJSC. Death Valley was another passion, and Dr. Bentel spent many hours touring, photographing, and studying the area and its inhabitants.
    Dr. Bentel died on May 16, 2012 at the age of 103.

    Related Materials

    Stone Photographic Collection, MSS-2014-02-28
    Professor Gordon Greb Papers, MSS-2014-09-27

    Preferred Citation

    Dwight Bentel Papers, MSS-2004-04-02, San Jose State University Library, Special Collections & Archives.


    The Dwight Bentel Papers are arranged into four series: Series I: Professional Materials, Series II: Personal Materials, Series III: Death Valley, and Series IV: Slides and Plate Glass Negatives. Series I is arranged alphabetically by subject and then chronologically. Series II is arranged alphabetically by format and then by subject followed by a chronological order. Series III is arranged by format and then alphabetically by subject. Series IV is arranged by format.

    Scope and Contents

    The Dwight Bentel Papers document portions of Dr. Bentel’s professional and personal life, as well as provide insight into his thinking and methods of writing. Materials pertaining to his professional life include awards and honors, articles, news clippings, notes and texts for talks, and correspondence.
    Materials pertaining to Dr. Bentel’s personal life include personal correspondence, greeting cards, vital documents, and news clippings. Together, these items document the relationship between Dr. Bentel and various family members. Due to their personal nature, the Personal Materials are available by permission only.
    The bulk of the collection is composed of Death Valley materials, including personal notes, news clippings, magazine articles, and copies of books. Outlines and manuscripts for a planned book by Dr. Bentel on Death Valley are also included.
    A small portion of this series contains correspondence with and/or pertaining to George E. Stone, an Assistant and Associate Professor in Journalism from 1934 through 1956. Although this correspondence is mostly personal in nature, it was included with the professional materials due to professional relationship between Dr. Bentel and Professor Stone and the position both men held as members of the SJSC faculty. Materials relating to Professor Stone date from 1951 -1964 and include a portion of an autobiographical manuscript.

    Conditions Governing Use

    Copyright has been assigned to the San Jose State University Library Special Collections & Archives. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Director of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the San Jose State University Library Special Collections & Archives 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.

    Conditions Governing Access

    With the exception of Series II: Personal Materials, the collection is open for research. Access to Series II: Personal Materials is by permission from the Director of Special Collections and Archives only.

    Separated Materials

    Included in the Dwight Bentel Papers were a number of complete, unphotocopied publications pertaining to Death Valley. There were also several promotional publications directed at San Jose State College or the San Jose Unified School District. These materials, listed below, were separated from the collection and transferred either to the King Library or to the San José State University Archives Publications Collection, as noted.
    Donated to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library: Glasscock, C. B. Here's death valley. New York : Grosset & Dunlap, 1940.
    Johnson, LeRoy and Johnson, Jean. Julia : Death Valley's youngest victim. 2nd ed. Bishop, CA., c. 1981. 2002.
    Lindgenfelter, Richard E. and Dwyer, Richard A., eds. Death Valley lore : Classic tales of fantasy, adventure, and mystery. Reno : University of Nevada Press, 1988
    Muir, John. The mountains of California. New York : Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1961
    Transferred to the San José State University Archives Publications Collection, MSS-2010-01-01:
    San Jose State College. Impact! The dynamic effect of San Jose College on the community it serves. c. 1961.
    San Jose State College. Pioneers for one hundred years. San Jose State College. 1957.
    One camera box was separated from the collection and placed with artifacts to be used in displays. The leather trimmed, wooden box is 11"hx8.8"dx19.5"w. The interior is trimmed in pig skin and appears to have been modified to include compartments and a shelf.


    Patterson, Brittany. "Spartan Daily founder Dwight Bentel dies at 103." Spartan Daily [San Jose, CA] 16 May 2012. Web.
    Rosenberg, Mike. "Dwight Bentel, founder of San Jose State University journalism department, dies at 103." San Jose Mercury News [San Jose, CA] 16 May 2012. Web.
    San Jose State University "In Memoriam." SJSU ERFA News Late Spring (2012) : 7. Web.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Death Valley -- California and Nevada
    Education -- Higher -- California -- San Jose
    San Jose State College -- History
    San José State University -- History
    Twentieth century
    Bentel, Dwight E. (1909 - 2012)
    Bentel, Dwight
    Lundstrom, Charlie Mack