Guide to the Friedolin Edward Kessler Papers MSS.2018.01.12

Lauren DeCelle
SJSU Special Collections & Archives
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library
San José State University
One Washington Square
San José, CA 95192-0028

Language of Material: English
Contributing Institution: SJSU Special Collections & Archives
Title: Friedolin Edward Kessler Papers
Identifier/Call Number: MSS-2018-01-12
Physical Description: 3 boxes (2.42 linear ft.)
Date (inclusive): 1927-1996
Abstract: The materials in this collection relate to the life and art career of Friedolin Edward Kessler. The materials consist of personal papers, photographic reproductions of his art, and a few original art pieces.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Preferred Citation

Friedolin Edward Kessler Papers, MSS-2018-01-12, San José State University Library Special Collections & Archives.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Lauren DeCelle and David Fournier.

Biographical History

The artist, Friedolin Kessler (1913-1995), was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on July 12, 1913, and was the only son of Czech and German parents. At age sixteen, he enrolled in art school at Washington University in St. Louis. After he graduated, he joined the Missouri Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Then in 1936, he was relocated to California with his camp, where they settled in the New Almaden Quicksilver County Park. As the resident artist, the CCC hired him to document life in the work camp. His specialty was linoleum cuts, though he also created paintings, wood art, and mosaics. In 1938, he took a bicycle trip to photograph and then sketch every California Mission, later producing linoleum cuts of each mission. Those prints were exhibited around California, including at the Golden Gate International Exposition at Treasure Island and the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco.
Kessler spent most of his life in San Jose and became a well-known local artist. In 1938 with his wife Carol, he co-founded the San Jose Art League and taught art at San Jose State College, Stanford, and in the San Jose Adult Education System. The combined artwork of the Kesslers spans 70 years. The Kesslers were avid hikers and back-packed up Mt. Whitney with friends Allen and Cindy Perry. In the Kesslers' later years, the Perrys helped care for Carol and Friedolin as they continued to produce artwork. Friedolin died of cancer in 1995 at the age of 82. They had no children.

Publications Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to the San José 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 SJSU 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. Copyright restrictions also apply to digital reproductions of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.


This collection is arranged in two Series: I. Art and II. Personal Papers.

Scope and Contents

Materials in this collection are related to the life and art career of Friedolin Edward Kessler. Series I. Art consists mainly of photographic reproductions of Kessler's work through the decades. Also present are some original linoleum block prints, sketches, and some paintings. His early work mainly consisted of linoleum prints and paintings, while his later work was primarily in wood artwork and mosaics. Series II. Personal Papers consist of correspondence, awards, photographs, newsprints, San Jose Art League papers, and various work-related financial papers. Additionally, materials in this series include his sporadic architectural work, photos of his numerous hiking trips, and life work recollections.

Related Materials

Friedolin Edward Kessler Art Collection, MSS 2012-09-28

Related Materials

Civilian Conservation Corps Collection, MSS 2010-07-29

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Art, American -- California -- 20th century
Missions, Spanish -- California -- Photographs
San Jose Art League
San José State University. Library. Special Collections & Archives


Series I. Art 1936-1989


This series is organized by decade

Scope and Contents

This series consists mainly of photographic reproductions of Kessler's work through the decades. Also present are some original linoleum block prints, sketches, and some paintings. His early work was primarily linoleum prints and paintings, whereas his later work comprised of mainly woodwork and mosaics.

Subseries 1. 1930s

Box 1, Folder 1

CCC Artwork, 1936-1937

Box 1, Folder 2

Printouts of various Paintings


Subseries 2. 1940s

Box 1, Folder 3

Linoleum Prints of San Jose

Box 1

Linoleum Prints of California Missions on Tissue

Box 1

Linoleum Prints of California Missions on Cards

Box 1

10x12 3/4 Linoleum Prints of California Missions

Box 1

Exhibit Linoleum Prints of California Missions

Box 1

Wooden Binder for Linoleum Prints

Box 1

Prints and Negatives of Various Paintings


Subseries 3. 1950s

Box 1, Folder 10

Detention Home Mosaics, 1959


Subseries 4. 1960s

Box 1, Folder 11

Earle Lewis panel, 1966

Box 1

Precipitation: Santa Clara Valley Water District Mosaic

Box 1

First National Bank Tile Wall Mural

Box 1

Orchard Supply Hardware Store Signs

Box 1

Weaver Gas Co. Store and Truck Design

Box 1

Contracted Work: Signs

Box 1

Slides of Architecture Work

Box 1

Slides of Paintings, Sketches, and Woodwork


Subseries 5. 1970s

Box 1, Folder 19

Grocery Store 3D Wall Art

Box 1, Folder 20

Lynbrook High School Murals, 1978

Box 1, Folder 21

Peters Display

Box 1, Folder 22

Pruneyard Mural: Bank of the West, 1974

Box 1, Folder 23

San Jose Water Company Office Mural

Box 1, Folder 24

Woodwork (1 of 3)

Box 1, Folder 25

Woodwork (2 of 3)

Box 1, Folder 26

Woodwork (3 of 3)

Box 1, Folder 27

Wooden Furniture

Box 1, Folder 28

Wooden Jewelry

Box 1, Folder 29

Contracted Work - Mosaics

Box 1, Folder 30

Slides of Paintings and Wires

Box 1, Folder 31


Box 1, Folder 32

Textiles, Carol Kessler's?


Subseries 6. 1980s

Box 1, Folder 33

Pruneyard Mural: Bank of the West 1989 Earthquake Damage and Repair

Box 1, Folder 34

Three Boys of New Almaden and Other Stories of California Cover Art and Layout, 1988

Box 1, Folder 35



Subseries 7. Undated

Box 1, Folder 36


Box 1, Folder 37


Box 1, Folder 38



Series II. Personal Papers 1927-1996


This series contains 10 subseries that are arranged alphabetically by title.

Scope and Contents

This series consists of correspondence, awards, photographs, newsprints, San Jose Art League papers, and various work-related financial papers. Additional materials in this series include his sporadic architectural work, photos of his numerous hiking trips, and life work recollections.

Subseries 1. Architectural Work 1981-1990

Box 3, Folder 1

Cabinet Plans for Richard and Doris Davis, 1981

Box 3, Folder 2

House Designs, Rivera 1987

Box 3, Folder 3

Bank of the West Pruneyard Mural Restoration Project, 1990


Subseries 2. Correspondence 1935-1992

Box 3, Folder 4

Archie T. Goulden Letter to Sister, 1937

Box 3, Folder 5

Various Correspondence, circa 1938

Box 3, Folder 6

Miscellaneous Correspondence, 1935-1992

Box 3, Folder 7

Grain Mill Oil Painting Purchase Correspondence, 1944-1945 & 1987-1989

Box 3, Folder 8

Bank of the West Pruneyard Mural Correspondence, 1973, 1974, & 1990

Box 3, Folder 9

Birthday Card for Carol Kessler, undated


Subseries 3. Exhibits and Awards 1941-1988

Box 3, Folder 10

San Francisco Art Association Exhibition, 1941

Box 3, Folder 11

Springfield Art Exhibit, 1941

Box 3, Folder 12

County Fair and Museum Ribbons, 1941-1953

Box 3, Folder 13

Mission Print Title Cards, circa 1942

Box 3, Folder 14

Portrait of America Exhibit, 1945

Box 3, Folder 15

Wood Mosaics Exhibit, circa 1970

Box 3, Folder 16

Richmond Art Center Exhibition, 1971

Box 3, Folder 17

San Jose Art League Awards, 1988


Subseries 4. Financial and Legal Papers 1938-1992

Box 3, Folder 18

Concealed Firearm License, 1938

Box 3, Folder 19

Miscellaneous Financial Papers, 1939-1989

Box 3, Folder 20

Art Prices and Sales Paperwork, 1940s, 1989, & 1995

Box 3, Folder 21

Tax Information & Auto Registration, 1945, 1951, 1954, & 1960

Box 3, Folder 22

Bill Book, 1947-1950

Box 3, Folder 23

Letter to General Insurance Agency, 1962

Box 3, Folder 24

Job Cost Envelopes, 1974-1990

Box 3, Folder 25

Kessler House Remodeling Paperwork, 1986-1992


Subseries 5. Newspapers and Clippings 1927-1992

Box 3, Folder 26

Newspaper Articles of Kessler, 1927 & 1937

Box 3, Folder 27

Newspaper Clippings of Kessler's Mission Prints, January - March 1942

Box 3, Folder 28

Grain Mill Newspaper Article, 1944

Box 3, Folder 29

San Jose Art League Newspaper Clippings, 1948-1953

Box 3, Folder 30

Clippings and Pamphlets of California Missions, 1968-1970, & 1992

Box 3, Folder 31

The Bulletin 1983 Article about Kessler's Woodwork

Box 3, Folder 32

San Jose Historical Museum Association News CCC Article, September 1992


Subseries 6. Pamphlets and Handouts 1941-1992

Box 3, Folder 33

Santa Clara County Fair Art Exhibition, 1941

Box 3, Folder 34

First Capitol Building Handout, 1949

Box 3, Folder 35

International Design Conference Papers, June 21-28, 1953 Aspen, Colorado

Box 3, Folder 36

Bank of the West Pruneyard Mural Pamphlet and Preview Invitation, 1974

Box 3, Folder 37

New Almaden Quicksilver County Park Field Trip Guide, 1984

Box 3, Folder 38

New Almaden Quicksilver County Park Association Handout, 1985

Box 3, Folder 39

New Almaden Quicksilver County Park Brochure, 1987

Box 3, Folder 40

CCC Dedication Pamphlet New Almaden County Park, 1992


Subseries 7. Personal Collections

Box 3, Folder 41

Rock Collection

Box 3, Folder 42

Stamp Collection

Box 3, Folder 43

Blank Postcards


Subseries 8. Photos 1930-1996

Box 2, Folder 1

Photos of Friedolin Kessler, 1930s-1990s

Box 2, Folder 2

Miscellaneous Photos, 1930s-1980s

Box 2, Folder 3

Photos of 1938 California Mission Bike Trip

Box 2, Folder 4

Negatives of 1938 California Mission Bike Trip

Box 2, Folder 5

Carol Kessler Photos and Negatives, 1950s-1960s

Box 2, Folder 6

Construction of Highway 101 Interchange, 1960

Box 2, Folder 7

Wood Cross Sections, circa 1965

Box 2, Folder 8

Landscapes and Sceneries, 1970s-1990s

Box 2, Folder 9

Photos of Friedolin and Carol Kessler with Friends, 1980s-1990s

Box 2, Folder 10

Pearl White Walls, circa 1980

Box 2, Folder 11

Golden Gate Bridge and Strait Photos, circa 1985

Box 2, Folder 12

Whitney Trip Photographs, circa 1985

Box 2, Folder 13

New Almaden Quicksilver County Park Photos, circa 1987

Box 2, Folder 14

Mission Photos: 1990s Trip with Julie Erickson

Box 2, Folder 15

CCC Monument at New Almaden County Park Photos, 1992

Box 2, Folder 16

Friedolin Kessler's Bike, March 1996

Box 2, Folder 17

Friedolin Kessler Memorial Tree, 1996


Subseries 9. Recollections and Writings 1932-1995

Box 3, Folder 44

Book Reviews by Kessler, 1932-1937 (1 of 2)

Box 3, Folder 45

Book Reviews by Kessler, 1932-1937 (2 of 2)

Box 3, Folder 46

Laborer Portrait Notes, circa 1935

Box 3, Folder 47

CHeck List for 1938 Bike Trip

Box 3, Folder 48

Notes on Camera Film Usage, circa 1938

Box 3, Folder 49

CCC Recollections, approx 1986

Box 3, Folder 50

Me and The Bicycle Drafts, circa 1989

Box 3, Folder 51

BicycleTrip Diary Notes, 1989 &1990

Box 3, Folder 52

1938 Bicycle Trip Audio Tapes

Box 3, Folder 53

Frank Harper's Cross Country BIke Trips, 1977-1995

Box 3, Folder 54

Reccollections of Driving Length of Baja Peninsula, circa 1980s

Box 3, Folder 55

Reflections of Life and Chemotherapy, circa 1990

Box 3, Folder 56

Medical Journal, circa 1991

Box 3, Folder 57

Miscellaneous Hand Written Notes, Undated

Box 3, Folder 58

Professional Letterheads, Envelopes, and Cards


Subseries 10. San Jose Art League 1938-1988

Box 3, Folder 59

San Jose Art League Constitution and Members

Box 3, Folder 60

San Jose Art League Meeting Minutes and Reports

Box 3, Folder 61

San Jose Art League History

Box 3, Folder 62

San Jose Art League Exhibit Invitations, 1946-1949

Box 3, Folder 63

San Jose Art League Correspondence, 1952-1987

Box 3, Folder 64

San Jose Art Center, 1960-1988

Box 3, Folder 65

San Jose Art League Recollection Audio Recordings, March 27, 1980 & February 1, 1988

Box 3, Folder 66

San Jose Art League 50th Anniversary, 1988

Box 3, Folder 67

San Jose Art Associations