Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Seaver (Blanche Ebert and Frank R.) Papers
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (116.66 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Preferred Citation
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Biographical note
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Processing Information note

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: Pepperdine University. Special Collections and University Archives.
    Title: Blanche Ebert and Frank R. Seaver Papers
    Identifier/Call Number: 0008
    Physical Description: 14.61 Linear Feet (14 boxes)
    Date (inclusive): 1882-1996
    Date (bulk): 1919-1987
    Abstract: The collection contains the personal and professional papers of Frank R. and Blanche Seaver, philanthropists who greatly contributed to the evolution and success of Pepperdine University. The materials range from 1882 to 1996 and document Blanche's involvement with Pepperdine; Frank's business, the Hydril Company; Blanche's former career as a composer and musician; and their personal lives.
    Physical Location: Pepperdine University. Special Collections and University Archives.
    Language of Material: Materials are in English.

    Conditions Governing Access

    Advance notice required for access.

    Conditions Governing Use

    Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

    Preferred Citation

    [Box/folder# or item name], Blanche Ebert and Frank R. Seaver papers, Collection no. 0008, Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries, Pepperdine University.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    The exact date of acquisition for most of the materials in the collection is unknown, but it is likely the material was transferred following Blanche Seaver's death in 1994. The Hydril Company and Frank Seaver materials were donated by Hydril in 2007, and turned over to the University Archives by the President's Office.

    Biographical note

    Frank Roger Seaver was born in San Jose, California, on April 12, 1883, as the second of five children and the first son of Carlton and Mary Estella Seaver. The family spent Seaver's childhood years on a farm in Claremont, California, later moving to Pomona where his father founded the First National Bank of Pomona. After graduating from high school in 1901, Seaver attended Pomona College to study biology, where he was active in sports, clubs and student government. He also joined the National Guard in 1903, and after graduating from Pomona in 1905, worked in San Francisco to help police the city following the devastating earthquake in 1906. During this time, Seaver also began studying law, and in the fall of 1906, he passed the bar examination in California, which he followed with a year of postgraduate studies in law at Harvard University.
    Seaver returned to California in 1907, finding a position at a law firm in Los Angeles, and soon opening his own practice with his brother where he worked for almost a decade. During this time, Seaver also became an active member of Los Angeles civic and cultural life. In 1912, he was elected to the Board of Freeholders of Los Angeles County, where he helped draft the first Los Angeles County Charter. He was also a member of the Amateur Players Club, where in 1915 he fell in love with their new vocal coach from Chicago, Blanche Ebert. After a quick courtship, the two were married on September 16, 1916.
    Blanche Ebert Seaver was born on September 15, 1891, as the youngest of ten children of Norwegian immigrants in Chicago, Illinois. She started playing the piano as a very young girl, and at five years old was considered a musical prodigy. She graduated from the Chicago Music School in 1911, and began a career as an accompanist, vocal coach and concert pianist. In 1914, she moved to Los Angeles, where she opened her own studio and continued to accompany many famous artists in concert before ending her career to marry Frank in 1916.
    The Seavers were married for six months when Frank, who had joined the California Naval Militia in 1913, was called to active duty in 1917 as a result of World War I. As a Lieutenant in the Naval Militia, Seaver served as a deck officer of the USS Pueblo, an armored cruiser in the Atlantic until December of 1918, when he was transferred to office duties in New York City. Blanche left California to join Frank in New York, and during the war years, she found a new career as a successful composer, writing dozens of songs for the top artists of the time.
    During his time in the militia, Frank Seaver became friends with a fellow reserves man, Ned Doheny, whose father, oil man Edward L. Doheny, also became close to Frank. Seaver's friendship with the Doheny family continued throughout the war, and led to Edward Doheny offering Frank a position in his company as an attorney in 1919. In 1921, Doheny asked Seaver to work as the attorney and general representative for a division of his oil company in Mexico City, the Huasteca Petroleum Company. The Seavers moved to Mexico for seven years, where Frank rose to the position of vice-president of the company, and Blanche began a lifetime of philanthropy by establishing a society to help homeless children in Mexico City.
    In 1928, the Seavers moved back to the United States, where Frank decided to buy the Doheny-Stone Drill Company from Edward Doheny. The company, which manufactured oil well equipment and parts, was at the time almost defunct, but Seaver turned the business around to form a multiplant operation in the United States and Canada, which in 1933 was renamed the Hydril Company. Frank ran Hydril until his death on October 31, 1964, whereupon it was taken over by his nephew, Richard C. Seaver.
    In addition to his career at Hydril, Frank Seaver was also heavily involved in philanthropy, starting in a major way in 1956 with a million dollar donation to his alma mater, Pomona College. This donation was followed by two more gifts, which allowed for the construction of three science buildings at Pomona now known as the Seaver Science Center. Inspired by this first donation, the Seavers went on to donate large gifts to a number of educational and charitable organizations, including the University of Southern California, Loyola University, the First Congregational Church, the Harvard Boys School and the Freedoms Foundation. Frank also during this time established The Seaver Institute, which continues to handle the Seaver Estate and serve as a philanthropic organization to this day.
    Frank Seaver became interested in Pepperdine College during the early 1960s, through his support of programs sponsored by Pepperdine including the Pepperdine College Forum and Pepperdine's National Citizenship program. He also included Pepperdine College as a beneficiary in his will, which inspired Blanche Seaver to become more involved with Pepperdine after his passing. In addition to providing the Seaver Learning Center on Pepperdine's Los Angeles campus, Blanche also provided a pacesetting gift of over a million dollars to help Pepperdine establish its Malibu campus in 1972. As a show of gratitude for her generous support of the school, in 1975 Pepperdine dedicated the new college, Frank R. Seaver College, in honor of Frank (the name was later shortened to its current form, Seaver College). Mrs. Seaver remained active in Pepperdine's affairs, as she was named a lifetime member of the Board of Regents in 1976. She also received an honorary doctorate in 1980, and continued to make donations to the school, serving as the most generous donor in Pepperdine's history until her passing on April 14, 1994.
    Biographical information was taken from collection materials, newspaper articles, and The Legacy of Frank Roger Seaver by Bill Youngs.

    Scope and Content

    The collection contains the personal and professional papers of Frank and Blanche Seaver. Included in the collection are photographs of Blanche Seaver, the construction of Seaver College at Pepperdine and the Pepperdine campus; music composed by Blanche and music books owned by her; personal materials including personal portraits of Frank, information about the Seaver name, name cards collected by Blanche, and Blanche's personal possessions; and materials produced by the Hydril Company including correspondence, brochures, company records and photographs. Materials in the collection span from 1882 to 1987.


    Materials within series are arranged alphabetically by folder title except when noted, and original folder titles have been maintained when possible. (In places where Smythe wrote Mr. and Mrs. Seaver, the names have been changed to Frank and Blanche.) Materials are arranged in four series:
    Series 1: Photographs Series 2: Personal Materials Series 3: Music and Music Books Series 4: Hydril Company Materials

    Processing Information note

    The collection was initially arranged and described by James Smythe in 2002. The collection was re-arranged with new material incorporated and described by Jessica Geiser and Jamie Henricks in July 2012.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Sheet music
    Oil field equipment and supplies industry
    Malibu (Calif.) -- History
    Financial records
    Los Angeles (Calif.) -- History
    Family archives
    Sales catalogs
    Universities and colleges -- California -- History
    Hydril Company
    Seaver, Frank R. (Frank Roger)
    Dohney-Stone Drill Company
    Doheny, Edward L. (Edward Laurence)
    Pepperdine University
    Pepperdine College
    Seaver, Blanche Ebert