Guide to the Helen S. Giffen papers

M. Carey
University of California, Santa Cruz
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz 95064

Contributing Institution: University of California, Santa Cruz
Title: Helen S. Giffen papers
Creator: Giffen, Helen S. (Helen Smith), 1893-
Identifier/Call Number: MS.315
Physical Description: .5 Linear Feet 1 document box
Date (inclusive): 1980-1989
Abstract: This small collection includes Helen Giffen's notes & manuscripts on Georgiana Bruce Kirby.
Language of Material: English


Collection open for research.

Use Restrictions

Copyright for the items in this collection is owned by the creators and their heirs. Reproduction or distribution of any work protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires permission from the copyright owner. It is the responsibility of the user to determine whether a use is fair use, and to obtain any necessary permissions. For more information see UCSC Special Collections and Archives policy on Reproduction and Use.

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".

Processing Information

Processed by: M. Carey. Date Completed: 5/20/2014. Encoded by: M. Carey

Related Material

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

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Women pioneers -- California
Women social reformers -- California
Santa Cruz County (Calif.) -- History
Kirby, Georgiana Bruce, 1818-1887

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