Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Helen S. Giffen papers
Collection number: MS 315
Giffen, Helen S.
1 document box
University of California, Santa Cruz. University Library.
Special Collections and Archives
Santa Cruz, California 95064
Abstract: This small collection includes Helen Giffen's notes & manuscripts on Georgiana Bruce Kirby.
Physical location: Stored in Special Collections And Archives: Advance notice is required for access to the papers.
Languages represented in the collection:
Collection open for research.
Property rights reside with the University of California. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and
their heirs. For permission to publish or to reproduce the material, please contact the Head of Special Collections and Archives.
Helen S. Giffen papers. MS 315. Special Collections and Archives, University Library, University of
California, Santa Cruz.
Gift of Judith Steen and Barbara Giffen, 1988.
Helen Smith Gifffen was born in Alabama in 1894 and came to California as a infant. Her father, Edmund Morton Smith, had been
hired as a reporter by the Los Angeles Times. He died a few months lateer, in a train accident, while on his way to a newspapers
assignment in Colorado.
Mrs. Giffen's mother, who was a teacher, opened a private school in Los Angeles to support herself and her daughter. Mrs.
Giffen studied there, along with a young man from nearby San Gabriel, named George Patton, who went on to make the Army a
Mrs. Giffen went to high school and business college in the Los Angeles area, where she later worked as a secretary for an
exclusive women's club, as a mechanical engineer and as secretary for the city's Southwest Museum, where she said she became
interested in California history.
She married Guy Giffen, an oil company executive, in 1922 and quit work. She returned to work, however, in the 1930s after
her husband suffered a crippling heart attack. He died in the 1960s.
Mrs. Giffen was hired as Executive Secretary for the Society of California Pioneers, a male-dominated San Francisco group,
in 1941 at a time when American men were heading off to World War II. The Society of California Pioneers was founded in August
1850 to ferret out and preserve state history and was patronized, from the start, by wealthy merchants and businesmen, such
as James Lick.
Her writings, which she began shortly after taking the job with the Society of California Pioneers, included "Story of El
Tejon (Pass)", "The Wife of Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo", "Newspapers of the Mother Lode, 1850-1880", "Historical Adobe Houses
of California", "Casas and Courtyards", and "the Story of Golden Gate Park". She edited "The Diary of Peter Decker", "The
Land of Good Fortune", and "Georgiana: Feminist Reformer of the West".
Mrs. Giffen died in October 1987 in Los Gatos, CA.
San Jose Mercury News, October 30, 1987
Scope and Content of Collection
This collection contains a small amount of correspondence, Kirby's notes, early drafts of manuscripts on Georgiana Bruce Kirby
as well as photocopies of Kirby's diary "Das Tagebuch".
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in
the library's online public access catalog.
Giffen, Helen S. (Helen Smith), 1893--Archives
Kirby, Georgiana Bruce, 1818-1887
Women social reformers--California
Santa Cruz County (Calif.)--History
Georgiana : feminist reformer of the West : the journal of Georgiana Bruce Kirby, HQ1413.K57 A3 1987