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Guide to the Harley Knox Collection MS 212
MS 212  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Biographical / Historical Notes
  • Arrangement
  • Comments
  • Scope and Content
  • Processing Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition

  • Title: Harley Knox Collection
    Identifier/Call Number: MS 212
    Contributing Institution: San Diego History Center Document Collection
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 8.5 Linear feet (14 boxes)
    Date (inclusive): 1922-1990
    Abstract: This collection contains papers pertaining to Harley Knox’s political career as a city councilman and as mayor of San Diego, California between 1939 and 1951, as well as some of his personal papers.
    creator: Knox, Harley E.

    Conditions Governing Use

    The San Diego History Center (SDHC) holds the copyright to any unpublished materials.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

    Conditions Governing Access

    This collection is open for research.

    Biographical / Historical Notes

    Harley Eugene Knox was born in Memphis, Nebraska on January 26, 1899, and he came to San Diego with his parents in 1912. He founded the Knox Dairy Company in 1919, at 4810 Logan Avenue, and married Bessie Irene Kirk in 1921. They had three daughters, all of whom married: Virginia Harris, Donna Sefton, and Marna Moore.
    Knox was elected without opposition as city councilman from the Fifth District in 1939. He became mayor of San Diego in 1943 and was re-elected in a landslide victory in 1947: he was the first mayor in San Diego history to win in a primary. He declined to run for a third term and retired in 1951, but he remained active in the community till his death in 1956.
    During his two terms as mayor, Knox ushered in numerous achievements for the City of San Diego. He made a profitable trade with the Navy to acquire the 244 acres of land at Lindbergh Field, and another profitable trade with the Army to acquire the Camp Callan lands on Torrey Pines Mesa. He helped organize the County Water Authority in 1944, which brought Colorado River water to San Diego via the San Diego aqueduct. He created a long-range development plan for Mission Bay, and spearheaded programs to aid war veterans, reduce juvenile delinquency, and transition San Diego from a wartime military economy to a post-war tourism economy. In 1944 Knox survived a plane crash which took the life of San Diego City Manager Walter Cooper.
    In 1952, Knox was appointed to the California Crime Commission by Governor Earl Warren. In 1953 he was elected president of the Navy League’s San Diego Council, and at the time of his death he was also president of the California Fish and Game Commission. Additionally he held positions on the League of California Cities, the First National Trust and Savings Bank Board, the 1956 United Success Drive, the Chamber of Commerce Industrial Development Board, Camp Fire Girls and Boy Scouts, the San Diego California Club, the Oceanview Improvement Club, the Southeastern Chamber of Commerce, the San Diego County Farm Bureau Dairy Department, the San Diego Boys’ Club, and the San Diego Rowing Club.
    Harley Knox died from a heart attack at age 57, on September 13, 1956. His wife, Bess, survived him by nearly forty years, and died July 10, 1994.


    Collection is arranged into five series:
    Series I: City Council Service (1939-1943)
    Series II: Mayoral Campaigns (1943, 1947)
    Series III: Mayor of San Diego (1943-1951)
    Series IV: Harley Knox Personal Papers
    Series V: Knox Family Papers
    Items within each series are arranged by subject.


    Harley Knox file from Document Files Collection added to this collection.

    Scope and Content

    The collection contains papers pertaining to Harley Knox’s political career in San Diego, California between 1939 and 1951, as well as some of his personal papers. The collection includes Knox's campaign materials such as posters, brochures, advertisements, and scrapbooks about his service as city councilman and as mayor. There are also invitations and programs to events Knox attended as mayor, documentation of several business trips, and subject files on specific issues such as city development projects and San Diego’s economy and military connections during World War II. Personal papers include correspondence with friends and family, documentation of the plane crash Knox survived in 1944, and programs, meeting minutes, and newspaper articles about his involvement in clubs and other organizations. Finally, this collection contains memorial resolutions released by several organizations after Knox’s death, dedications of Harley Knox Elementary School and Harley Knox Memorial Lake, as well as some personal items from his wife Bessie and his sister Dorothy.

    Processing Information

    Collection processed by Samantha Mills on November 1, 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.

    Preferred Citation

    Harley Knox Collection, MS 212, San Diego History Center Document Collection, San Diego, CA.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Accession number 991019.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    California. Fish and Game Commission.
    Cooper, Walter
    Harley E. Knox Elementary School.
    Knox, Bessie Kirk
    Knox, Dorothy
    Knox, Harley E.
    League of California Cities.
    Navy League of the United States.
    Oceanview Improvement Club.
    Rhodes, Fred
    Rotary Club (San Diego, Calif.).
    San Diego Business and Professional Women's Club.
    San Diego International Airport.
    San Diego Rowing Club.
    Simpson, Fred
    Baja California (Mexico : Peninsula)
    Camp Callan (Calif.)
    City council members
    Clippings (Books, newspapers, etc.)
    Dairy products industry
    Harley E. Knox Memorial Lake
    Linda Vista (Calif.)
    Mayors -- Election
    Mission Bay (Calif.)
    Political campaigns
    Political posters
    San Diego (Calif.)
    Soldiers' homes
    Tuna industry
    World War, 1939-1945