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Guide to the Virginia DeMarais Anza Borrego Region Collection MS 228
MS 228  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Biographical / Historical Notes
  • Arrangement
  • Preferred Citation
  • Separated Materials
  • Processing Information
  • Scope and Content
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition

  • Title: Virginia DeMarais Anza Borrego Region Collection
    Identifier/Call Number: MS 228
    Contributing Institution: San Diego History Center Document Collection
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 7.75 Linear feet (13 boxes)
    Date (inclusive): 1879-1994
    Abstract: This collection consists of material collected by Virginia DeMarais pertaining to the history, development, and population of Borrego Springs and the Anza-Borrego region, as well as a small collection of her personal papers.
    creator: DeMarais, Virginia

    Biographical / Historical Notes

    Virginia DeMarais was born in Los Angeles on November 13, 1915, to Robert Harold Hart and Virginia C. Christie. She married Bill DeMarais in 1937, and in 1943 they had a son, Dennis DeMarais. The family moved to Borrego Springs after World War II and built a motel called Hacienda Borrego. They operated the motel for eight years, then sold it. Before and after their retirement, Virginia and Bill were heavily involved in local activities and organizations, helping the small town establish a post office, schools, and the Community Church.
    Virginia was Borrego Springs’ first librarian in 1949, housing the library’s books in the lobby of Hacienda Borrego. She was the Borrego Elementary School secretary from 1952-1976. She was also involved in numerous clubs, including the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association, Beta Sigma Phi sorority, Community Concert Association, Borrego Women’s Club, Soroptimist International Association, and the Parent-Teacher Club . She documented local history for over 40 years and authored the “Do You Recall?” history column for the Borrego Sun newspaper. In 1993 she was recognized by the Board of Supervisors of the County of San Diego as the official historian of Borrego Springs, California. Bill DeMarais died in 1982, and Virginia died in September of 1994.
    The Anza-Borrego region was originally the homeland of the Cupeno, Luiseno, Cahuilla, Diegueno, and Chumash tribes. Their descendants were eventually moved to the Pala Indian Reservation. The area is named in part after Juan Bautista de Anza who in the 1770s led a party of 240 settlers from Tubac, Arizona to the San Gabriel Mission, opening a 2,000 mile trail to California via Yuma.
    American settlers appeared in the Anza-Borrego desert as early as 1910. The first ranches were established in the 1920s, with land cheaply available through the terms of the 1862 Homestead Act. Farming in the region flourished when it was discovered that local grapes were the first of the season, and alfalfa growers could cut eight to ten crops per year.
    During the Depression, rich residents bought up the surrounding land to help construct the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, now the largest state park in California. This effectively encapsulated the town of Borrego Springs at its center. In the 1940s the desert was used for Marine and Army training grounds. In the 1950s the construction of the Feather River Dam near Oroville brought a dependable water source to the Borrego region, supplementing discoveries of deep water reserves underground. Borrego Springs began to develop as a desert resort, with numerous hotels and country clubs built to lure visitors into the desert. By the 1990s Borrego Springs was a well-established winter retreat for thousands of “snowbirds” from Oregon, Washington, and Canada.


    The collection is arranged by series:
    Series I: Virginia DeMarais Personal Papers
    Series II: Anza-Borrego Region: History
    Series III: Anza-Borrego Region: Environment
    Series IV: Anza-Borrego Region: People
    Series V: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
    Series VI: Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association
    Series VII: Borrego Springs: Development, Real Estate, Publicity
    Series VIII: Borrego Springs: Institutions and Public Services
    Series IX: Borrego Springs: Businesses
    Series X: Borrego Springs: Organizations and Recreation
    Series XI: Borrego Springs: Festivals and Events
    Series XII: Southern California Miscellanea
    Items in each series are arranged by subject or alphabetically.

    Preferred Citation

    Virginia DeMarais Anza Borrego Region Collection, MS 228, San Diego History Center Document Collection, San Diego, CA.

    Separated Materials

    San Diego Union Tribune map of downtown San Diego, August 8, 1985 separated to the SDHC Map Collection.
    Photographs, negatives, and slides previously separated to the SDHC Photograph Collection.

    Processing Information

    Collection processed by Samantha Mills on July 26, 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.

    Scope and Content

    This collection consists of material pertaining to the history, development, and population of Borrego Spring and the Anza-Borrego region, as well as a small collection of Virginia DeMarais’s personal papers.
    Virginia’s personal papers consist of a personal diary, correspondence, club memberships, drafts for her “Do You Recall?” history column, and newspaper articles related to her hobbies. The majority of the collection is secondary source material; book excerpts, magazine and newspaper clippings, in addition to brochures and maps. Correspondence and business records are also included.
    The history and environment of the Anza-Borrego region includes a selection of maps, published and unpublished histories, and a large collection of brochures and clippings about local wildlife, plant life, and weather conditions. The development of the Anza-Borrego region contains an assortment of administrative documents, meeting minutes, promotional material, correspondence, newsletters, and numerous newspaper articles on local organizations, including the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and Natural History Association; public institutions such as the post office, schools, police, and medical services; local businesses; and an assortment of local and international clubs. Additionally, this collection includes files on prominent local citizens, with varied amounts of correspondence, newspaper clippings, or personal items such as poetry books or art prints. Finally, there are subject folders for local festivals (consisting mainly of programs, flyers, and newspaper articles), and for places outside of Borrego Springs (primarily brochures, histories, and newspaper articles).

    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.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Accession number 950719.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    American Legion.
    Anza, Juan Bautista de, 1735-1788
    Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association.
    Beaty, Alfred
    Beta Sigma Phi.
    Burnand, Alphonse A., Jr.
    DeGrazia, 1909-1982
    DeMarais, Bill
    DeMarais, Virginia
    DiGiorgio Fruit Corporation.
    DuVall, Ed
    Ensign Date Ranch.
    Gordon, Gale, 1906-1995
    Hood, Amorita
    Hubbell, James
    IVC Museum Society.
    Kiwanis Club (San Diego, Calif.).
    Lynn, James L.
    Mathes, Albert L.
    Montezuma Valley Historical Society.
    Oliver, Harry, 1888-1973
    Orrell, Lewis
    Proctor, Phimster B.
    Roberts, Eugene
    Soroptimist International Association.
    Warner family
    Wharton, William M., Jr.
    Anza-Borrego Desert (Calif.)
    Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (Calif.)
    Borrego Springs (Calif.)
    Business records
    Clippings (Books, newspapers, etc.)
    Country clubs
    Desert animals
    Desert plants
    Homestead law -- California
    Julian (Calif.)
    Methodist Church
    Mines and mineral resources
    Pala Indian Reservation (Calif.)
    Ranchita (Calif.)
    Real estate business
    Small business