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Guide to the Panama-California Exposition Administrative Collection MS 263
MS 263  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Biographical / Historical Notes
  • Scope and Content
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing Information
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Comments
  • Arrangement

  • Title: Panama-California Exposition Administrative Collection
    Identifier/Call Number: MS 263
    Contributing Institution: San Diego History Center Document Collection
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 1.25 Linear feet (3 boxes)
    Date (inclusive): 1909-1919
    Abstract: This collection contains materials related to the planning and execution of the Panama-California Exposition held in San Diego in 1915-1916.
    creator: Panama-California Exposition (1915 : San Diego, Calif.).
    creator: Panama-California International Exposition (1916 : San Diego, Calif.).
    creator: San Diego Museum of Man.

    Biographical / Historical Notes

    The Panama–California Exposition was a world's fair held in San Diego from March 1915 through December 1916 to commemorate the completion of the Panama Canal in South America. The Exposition was meant to promote San Diego as the first American port of call north of the Canal. The fair drew a large amount of attention and tourism to San Diego, helping re-establish the city’s economy that had remained weak after the Wall Street Panic of 1907. The idea was originally conceived by G. Aubrey Davidson, the founder of the Southern Trust and Commerce Bank, who was also the president of the San Diego Chamber of Commerce. Davidson and the San Diego Chamber of Commerce chose real-estate developer David Collier to help guide the planning of the Exposition as the director-general of the Exposition’s Executive Committee. Collier was responsible for dictating both the selection of Balboa Park as the Exposition site and the combination of the Pueblo Revival and Mission Revival architectural styles that were used for the Exposition buildings.
    The buildings, originally meant to be temporary, were designed and constructed by Bertram Goodhue, Frank Allen, and Carleton Winslow. Construction began in 1911 and lasted for 3 years. Exposition exhibitions showcased San Diego’s culture, history, port, and economy. The Exposition hosted several anthropological exhibits leant to them by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., as well as cultural exhibitions hosted by other states and countries. The Exposition was so successful that it was prolonged through 1916.

    Scope and Content

    The collection contains administrative documents, including by-laws, meeting minutes, and correspondence. The bulk of the collection is comprised of three volumes of meeting minutes from the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors for the Exposition, responsible for overseeing all aspects of the Exposition’s planning and execution. The first volume of meeting minutes begins in 1909 and is related to the planning of the Exposition, while the second volume is primarily related to its execution. The third volume covers the last few months of the Exposition through the final reconciliation of accounts in 1919. Additional documents include minutes and correspondence of other Exposition committees, such as the Women’s Board, Subscription Campaign Committee, and Committee for the Preservation of Fair Buildings. An Exposition guest book, copies of the Exposition’s daily earnings and expenses, as well as shareholder’s stock certificates are also present.

    Conditions Governing Access

    This collection is open for research.

    Conditions Governing Use

    The San Diego History Center (SDHC) holds the copyright to any unpublished materials. SDHC Library regulations do apply.

    Preferred Citation

    Panama-California Exposition Administrative Collection, MS 263, San Diego History Center Document Collection, San Diego, CA.

    Processing Information

    Collection processed by Lauren Rasmussen on May 30, 2012.
    Collection processed as part of grant project supported by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) with generous funding from The Andrew Mellon Foundation.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Accession number 950217.


    Original covers for three volumes of Executive Committee meeting minutes (Box 1, folders 2-4) and one Subscription Campaign Committee ledger (Box 2, folder 2) have been separated and moved to Box 3.


    Collection materials are arranged by subject. Original covers have been separated and are located in Box 3.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Allen, Frank Phillips, Jr.
    Collier, David Charles
    Davis, H. O.
    Gill, Irving, 1870-1936
    Goodhue, Bertram Grosvenor, 1869-1924
    Grant, Ulysses S., 1852-1929
    Hewett, Edgar L. (Edgar Lee), 1865-1946
    Hogaboom, Winfield
    Marston, George White, 1850-1946
    McLure, Lewis Steenrod
    Panama-California Exposition (1915 : San Diego, Calif.).
    Panama-California International Exposition (1916 : San Diego, Calif.).
    San Diego Chamber of Commerce.
    San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.
    Sefton, Joseph W., 1882-1966
    Spreckels, John Diedrich, b. 1853
    United States. Marine Corps.
    Winslow, Carleton Monroe, 1876-1946
    Balboa Park (San Diego, Calif.)
    Exhibition buildings
    Panama Canal (Panama)
    San Diego (Calif.)
    San Francisco (Calif.)