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Finding Aid to the Joseph R. Knowland Papers, 1857-1966, bulk 1905-1960
BANC MSS 79/128 c  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Information
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Joseph R. Knowland papers
    Date (inclusive): 1857-1966,
    Date (bulk): bulk 1905-1960
    Collection Number: BANC MSS 79/128 c
    Creators : Knowland, Joseph R. (Joseph Russell), 1873-1966
    Extent: Number of containers: 46 cartons, 2 oversize folders Linear feet: 57.7 linear feet
    Repository: The Bancroft Library
    University of California, Berkeley
    Berkeley, California, 94720-6000
    Phone: (510) 642-6481
    Fax: (510) 642-7589
    Email: bancref@library.berkeley.edu
    URL: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/
    Abstract: The Joseph R. Knowland Papers document the career of an American politician, newspaper owner, and civic leader. He served five terms, from 1905-1915, in the United States House of Representatives as Congressman for California's district encompassing Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano counties, and spent over 50 years as owner, president, publisher and editor of the Oakland Tribune.
    Languages Represented: Collection materials are in English
    Physical Location: Many of the Bancroft Library collections are stored offsite and advance notice may be required for use. For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

    Information for Researchers


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Materials in this collection may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). In addition, the reproduction of some materials may be restricted by terms of University of California gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of without permission of the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.
    All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from, or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley 94720-6000. See: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html .

    Use Restrictions

    Even though all reasonable and customary best-practices have been pursued, this collection may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications for which the University of California, Berkeley assumes no responsibility.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Joseph R. Knowland Papers, BANC MSS 79/128 c, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Alternate Forms Available

    There are no alternate forms of this collection.

    Related Collections

    William F. Knowland papers, 1900-1974, BANC MSS 75/97 c
    Oakland Tribune records, 1908-1965, BANC MSS 79/129 c

    Separated Material

    Photographs and slides transferred to the Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft Library (BANC PIC 1979.083--PIC).

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Knowland, Joseph R. (Joseph Russell), 1873-1966--Archives
    Knowland, William F. (William Fife), 1908-1974
    United States. Congress. House
    Oakland Tribune, Inc.
    Tribune Publishing Company (Oakland, Calif.)
    California State Park Commission
    Native Sons of the Golden West
    California State Chamber of Commerce
    California State Automobile Association
    Mills College. Board of Trustees
    Athens Club, Oakland, Calif.
    Oakland National Horse Show
    Golden Gate International Exposition, (1939-1940 : San Francisco, Calif.)
    Legislators--United States
    Historical markers--California
    Oakland (Calif.)--Politics and government
    Alameda County (Calif.)--Politics and government
    San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge (Oakland and San Francisco, Calif.)

    Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information

    The Joseph R. Knowland Papers were given to The Bancroft Library by Emelyn Jewett in 1979.


    No additions are expected.

    System of Arrangement

    Arranged to the folder level.

    Processing Information

    Processed by David Uhlich in 2012.

    Biographical Information

    Joseph R. Knowland (1873-1966) was an American politician, newspaper owner and civic leader. He served five terms in the United States House of Representatives as Congressman for California's district encompassing Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano counties; prior to that he served two terms in the California State Assembly and a single term in the California State Senate. After leaving politics, Knowland bought the Oakland Tribune and began a long career as its editor, president and publisher, as well as being greatly involved in many local and state organizations.
    Born on August 5, 1873 in Alameda, California, Knowland attended local schools before completing his education at the San Jose campus of the University of the Pacific in 1895 and going to work in his father's wholesale lumber and shipping business. Knowland married the first of his three wives, Elinor Fife, in 1894; he and Elinor had three children together: Elinor Knowland Lion, Joseph Russell Knowland, Jr. and William F. Knowland (who went on to become a United States Senator). After the death of his first wife in 1908, Knowland married Emelyn West, who passed away in 1950. He married his third wife, Clarice Cook, in 1952.
    Knowland's political career began with his election to the California State Assembly in 1898, where he served 2 terms before he was elected to California State Senate in 1902, where served only part of his first term. In September 1904, Knowland won a special election to the House of Representatives to replace Victor Metcalf, who had been appointed been appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt to be Secretary of Commerce and Labor. Not surprisingly, considering the coastal location of his district and his family's business interests, Knowland was very interested in shipping and trade during his time in Congress, and focused especially on the Panama Canal, as well as the United States Navy and its local bases. In 1914, Knowland was defeated in his bid for a seat on United States Senate, which effectively ended his political career, although he continued to hold his office in Congress until 1915 and attended every Republican National Convention from 1908 to 1956.
    In November 1915, Knowland bought the Oakland Tribune and became the newspaper's president, publisher and editor. In addition to his newspaper duties, Knowland remained very active in the community and state. Having joined the Native Sons of the Golden West while he was still a teenager, Knowland served as chairman of its Historic Landmarks Committee for 60 years, from 1902-1962; in 1941, he published a book recounting the efforts of the committee, entitled: California: A Landmark History. Knowland was also a longtime member of the California State Park Commission, serving as chairman 1938-1960, and was appointed to the finance committees for the construction of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate International Exposition of 1939-1940. Knowland was also notably active in: California Centennials Council, California Historical Society, California State Chamber of Commerce, California State Automobile Association, Oakland Chamber of Commerce, Oakland Community Chest, Mills College Board of Trustees, Oakland National Horse Show, and Athens Athletic Club.
    Knowland died on February 1, 1966.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Joseph Knowland Papers consist of files Knowland compiled during his career as a politician, newspaper owner, and civic leader. The bulk of the collection is comprised of Knowland's personal and professional correspondence, as well as materials documenting his work in the United States House of Representatives as Congressman for the California district encompassing Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano counties, and his tenure as owner, editor, president and publisher of the Oakland Tribune. Also prominent in the collection are Knowland's financial records; political files, including those regarding his son, William's, campaigns and political career; and materials documenting his work on various government commissions, including the California State Park Commission, and membership in various civic organizations, especially the Native Sons of the Golden West. The collection encompasses a range of materials-including correspondence, legislative addresses and hearings, financial records, and ephemera-most notably documenting his involvement in: California State Parks, as well as the state's historic landmarks; politics and business in Alameda County and the city of Oakland; San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge; and Golden Gate International Exposition.
    The Joseph Knowland Papers are subdivided into seven series:
    • Series I: Correspondence
    • Series II: Family and Personal Files
    • Series III: Oakland Tribune
    • Series IV: Financial Files
    • Series V: Congressional and Political Files
    • Series VI: Government Commissions
    • Series VII: Civic and Fraternal Organizations