Helen S. Giffen Papers

M. Carey
The University Library
Special Collections and Archives
University Library
University of California, Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz, California, 95064
Email: specoll@library.ucsc.edu
URL: http://library.ucsc.edu/speccoll/
© 2013
The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Helen S. Giffen Papers

Collection number: MS 315

The University Library

Special Collections and Archives

University of California, Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz, California
Processed by:
M. Carey
Date Completed:
Encoded by:
M. Carey
© 2013 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Helen S. Giffen papers
Dates: 1980-1989
Collection number: MS 315
Creator: Giffen, Helen S.
Collection Size: 1 document box
Repository: 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: Languages represented in the collection: English


Collection open for research.

Publication Rights

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.

Preferred Citation

Helen S. Giffen papers. MS 315. Special Collections and Archives, University Library, University of California, Santa Cruz.

Acquisition Information

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 career.
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".

Indexing Terms

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 pioneers--California
Women social reformers--California
Santa Cruz County (Calif.)--History

Related Material

Georgiana : feminist reformer of the West : the journal of Georgiana Bruce Kirby, HQ1413.K57 A3 1987

Container List

box-folder 1:1

Correspondence 1978-1988

box-folder 1:2-3

Pt. 1 "A Stormy Petrel of Santa Cruz: Biography of Georgiana Bruce Kirby", 1978-1979

box-folder 1:2

"From Birth to Maturity", 1818-1849

box-folder 1:3

"The Santa Cruz Years", 1850-1887

box-folder 1:4

"The Stormy Petral of Santa Cruz: A Brief Biography of Georgiana Bruce Kirby", 1976

box-folder 1:5

"The Stormy Petral of Santa Cruz: The Life, Letters and Journal of Georgiana Bruce Kirby" - annotated typescripts, ca. 1970-1976

box-folder 1:6

Drafts of earlier versions - annotated typescripts, ca. 1970-1979

box-folder 1:7

Notes, additional drafts - holograph copies, annotated typescripts, ca. 1970-1979

box-folder 1:8

"Das Tagebuch" by G.B. Kirby - photocopies 1852-1860

box-folder 1:9

"Das Tagebuch" by G.B. Kirby, with corrections and amplifications by Helen S. Giffen - typescript 1933

box-folder 1:10

Obituary, clippings, ca. 1970-1987