Finding aid to the Poly Alumni Association Records, 1917-1991 SFH 377

Finding aid prepared by Wendy Kramer
San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library
100 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA, 94102
(415) 557-4567

Title: Poly Alumni Association Records
Date (inclusive): 1917-1991
Collection Identifier: SFH 377
Creator: Poly Alumni Association (San Francisco, Calif.).
Physical Description: 1 manuscript box, 1 audiocassette box (0.8 linear feet)
Contributing Institution: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library
100 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 557-4567
Abstract: Oral history interview transcripts and recordings of former students and teachers at Polytechnic High School in San Francisco, together with a few videocassettes, research notes, and ephemera about the school, collected by Dolores M. Robinson, historian for the Poly Alumni Assocation.
Physical Location: The collection is stored onsite.
Language of Materials: Collection materials are in English.


The collection is available for use during San Francisco History Center hours, with photographs available during Photo Desk hours. Collections that are stored offsite should be requested 48 hours in advance.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the City Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the San Francisco Public Library as the owner of the physical items.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Poly Alumni Association Records (SFH 377), San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.


Received as a gift in two accessions in 1996 and 1998. Accession numbers 1996-21 and 1998-68.

Materials Transferred

Polytechnic High School yearbooks, along with three issues of the student newspaper, The Polytechnic for 1917-1918, have been transferred to the San Francisco History Stacks. A printed program for the annual football game between Polytechnic and Lowell in 1927 has been transferred to the San Francisco Ephemera Collection.

Related Archival Collections at Sah Francisco History Center

Additional Polytechnic High School archival materials may be found in the Ray Monteroso Polytechnic High School Football Collection (SFH 376) and the San Francisco Ephemera Collection.

Administrative History

Polytechnic High School was one of the first high schools in San Francisco when it was started in the 1890s as Commercial High School. Its emphasis was on the mechanical arts, engineering, and science. The 1906 earthquake and fire destroyed the 1905 plans for a new school building on land purchased by the City at Frederick and Arguello in the Haight Ashbury neighborhood. A few years after the earthquake, a bond measure was passed to build the school; classes were held in earthquake shacks as the new buildings were under construction.
The final graduating class of Polytechnic High School was in 1972, and the school was shut down in 1977 after failing earthquake safety standards. Ten years later, on Nov. 7, 1987, the Poly Alumni Association hosted an all-class reunion party at Kezar Pavilion, right before the school's demolition. Dolores M. Robinson (Class of 1947) served as the Association's historian.

Scope and Contents

Oral history interview transcripts and recordings of former students and teachers at Polytechnic High School, together with a few videocassettes, research notes, and ephemera about the school, collected by Dolores M. Robinson, historian for the Poly Alumni Assocation. The collection represents a range of personal experiences across graduating classes, in the historical context of San Francisco. It also reflects the school's cohesive community, which remained even after its closure.


The collection is organized in three series: Series 1: Oral history interviews; Series 2: Research notes and ephemera; and Series 3: Videotapes.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Polytechnic High School (San Francisco, Calif.).
Class reunions--California--San Francisco
High schools--California--San Francisco
Oral histories
San Francisco (Calif.)--History--20th century


Series 1 Oral history interviews, 1970-1991 (bulk 1987-1990)

Physical Description: 1 box (16 audiocassettes), 2 folders

Scope and Contents

Oral history interviews of former students and teachers who attended or taught at Polytechnic High school from the 1910s through 1950, most of which were conducted and transcribed by Dolores M. Robinson, historian for the Poly Alumni Association. Interviews were recorded on audiocassette tapes, transcribed, and filed with copyright and legal release forms. A typical interview lasts 15-30 minutes.
Topics of discussion include: classes and coursework, classroom locations and buildings; social, extracurricular, and sports activities; local, national and world events; and memories and impressions of fellow students and faculty. Prohibition, the Depression, boyhood heroes, the groundbreaking for Kezar Stadium, the Panama-Pacific International and Golden Gate International Expositions, the World Wars, and the Korean War are all touched upon.
Two interviews that were submitted by mail (Alice Marble and Howard Brodie), and two interviews that were conducted and submitted by interviewee Sally Bush (Leland Stanford Prior and Arthur Jordan), do not include audio. The transcription of Sally Bush's oral history is partial. Three interviews (Stanford Lee Prior, Arthur Jordan and Sgt. Joseph Giblin) do not have accompanying legal release forms.
Box 2, Cassette 1, Box 1, Folder 1

John Conlon (student 1913), May 9, 1988

Box 1, Folder 1, Box 2, Cassette 2

John Bernhard (Class of 1918), Dec. 5, 1988

Box 2, Cassette 3, Box 1, Folder 1

Ralph N. Pollack (Class of 1918), March 16, 1988

Box 1, Folder 1, Box 2, Cassette 4

Albert Clark (Class of 1923), Nov. 30, 1987

Box 2, Cassette 5, Box 1, Folder 1

Estelle Tourtouret (Class of 1925), July 4, 1988

Box 1, Folder 1, Box 2, Cassette 6

David F. Woerner (Class of 1927), Mar. 9, 1988

Box 2, Cassette 7, Box 1, Folder 1

Eleanor Jack Cotton (Class of 1928), Dec. 9, 1989

Box 1, Folder 1, Box 2, Cassette 8

Paul O'Rourke (Class of 1928), June 20, 1988

Box 1, Folder 1

Leland Stanford Prior (Class of 1929), Apr. 12, 1972

Box 1, Folder 1

Alice Marble (Class of 1931), [1989]

Box 1, Folder 1

Howard Brodie (Class of 1932), Aug. 1, 1991

Box 2, Cassette 9, Box 1, Folder 1

Jimmy Price (Class of 1948), Dec. 9, 1987

Box 1, Folder 1, Box 2, Cassette 10

Jim Cornwell (Class of 1953), Mar. 5, 1990

Box 1, Folder 1, Box 2, Cassette 11

Frank Buscaino (Class of 1953), Jan. 20, 1988

Box 2, Cassette 12, Box 1, Folder 1

Paul S. Hungerford (Coach, 1927-), Nov. 11, 1987

Box 1, Folder 1

Arthur Jordan (Head of the science department), Nov. 6, 1970

Box 1, Folder 1, Box 2, Cassette 13

Delbert E. Schneider (Music and English teacher, 1935-[1971]), Feb. 9, 1988

Box 1, Folder 1, Box 2, Cassette 14-15

Sgt. Joseph Giblin (ROTC teacher, 1924-1949), J. R. Addicott (Class of 1931, son of Principal Addicott), and Bill Refausse (Class of 1926), Apr. 22, 1989

General note

Group interview.
Box 2, Cassette 16

Polly Hatch Moseby (History teacher, 1927-1947), Nov. 18, 1987

Box 1, Folder 1, Box 2, Cassette 2

Sally Bush, Nov. 17, 1988

Box 1, Folder 2

Legal release forms, 1988-1991

Box 1, Folder 3

Series 2 Research notes and ephemera 1987-1989

Physical Description: 1 folder

Scope and Contents

Photocopies of newspaper clippings, articles, ephemera, a chronology, and other materials about the history of Polytechnic High School, its first Principal Walter N. Bush, and the Final Farewell party held at Kezar Pavilion on Nov. 7, 1987. Some of the material may have been compiled by Robinson in preparation for her book called "Polytechnic High School: The Glory and the Shell," whose typescript title page is included in the file. Also includes some items contributed by Sarah L. Bush that were submitted with Sally Bush's oral history.

Series 3 Videotapes, 1987-1990

Physical Description: 3 VHS cassettes

Scope and Contents

Three non-commercial videocassette recordings of Polytechnic High School reunions. Two cover the Farewell party held at Kezar Pavilion, when the school building was about to be demolished; the other documents the Class of 1953-1954 35th reunion in 1989.
One of the Farewell Party tapes was donated by former student and San Francisco 49er Pete Brown. That tape also includes additional footage of a farewell party to the old Kezar Stadium, before it was demolished and rebuilt; as well as footage of "Touring Taverns on 49er Sunday." The other tape contains footage that matches a flier in the collection that advertises a Poly Hi video by Alumni member and oral history interviewee Frank Buscaino; it also includes footage of a dance party and a Channel 7 news story
Box 1, Folder 4, VHS_tape 1

Poly High "Farewell" Party, Kezar Pavilion Nov. 7, 1987

Material Specific Details note: Running time approximately 2 hours.
Box 1, Folder 4, VHS_tape 2

Pete Brown tape of "Poly High Farewell Party, Kezar Farewell, Touring Taverns on 49er Sunday," Nov. 7, 1987

Box 1, Folder 5, VHS_tape 3

Poly Hi 35th Reunion (Class of 1953-1954), Sept. 1989