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Finding Aid to the Frank Rolfe Papers and Photographs MS.210
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Collection Details
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  • Arrangement
  • Biographical note
  • Processing history
  • Access
  • Use
  • Preferred citation
  • Acquisition

  • Title: Frank Rolfe Papers and Photographs
    Identifier/Call Number: MS.210
    Contributing Institution: Autry National Center, Braun Research Library
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 7.0 Linear feet (11 document boxes, 1 flat box)
    Date (inclusive): 1859-1960
    creator: Rolfe, Frank, 1874-


    • Series 1: Water records, 1903-1910
    • Series 2: USC student papers and master thesis by Rolfe, 1922-1924
    • Series 3: Writings by Frank Rolfe, 1924-1955
    • Series 4: Newspaper clippings, 1917-1958
    • Series 5: Family papers and memorabilia, 1869-1961
    • Series 6: John Bidwell family papers and newspaper clippings, 1886-1955
    • Series 7: Photographic Materials, 1869-1931

    Biographical note

    Frank Rolfe was born in Gold Hill, Nevada in 1874. He was an engineer, geologist, surveyor, and seismologist with an interest in California history. His parents were Ovid D. Rolfe (died 1902), a miner on the Comstock Lode, and Allena B. Bishop (died 1922). Rolfe’s parents were married in 1869 February 4 at 8:00 p.m. in Allena's hotel parlor in Sacramento.
    In 1881, the family moved to a ranch in Temescal Valley in Riverside County near what is now the city of Corona, California. Rolfe's mother moved the children to Los Angeles sometime between 1899 and 1900 to ensure a better education for her children. The family spent their winters in the city and summers on the family ranch.
    Rolfe graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1894, earned a degree in geology from Stanford University in 1898, and a master’s degree from the University of Southern California in 1924.
    He worked on the Los Angeles aqueduct survey and possibly on the construction of the Ludlow and Southern Railway. Rolfe served as vice president of the Southwest Section of the Seismological Society of America beginning in 1921. He was also a long-time member of the Historical Society of Southern California.
    Rolfe authored articles on California history and geology that appeared in the Historical Society publications and the Los Angeles Times in the 1930s. Rolfe also wrote editorial pieces for the Los Angeles Times during World War I and authored Commercial Geography of southern California published by Biola Press, circa 1915.
    His collection of Californiana was donated to the Southwest Museum in 1963. His diaries, field notes, and other various articles and letters are also part of the collection. Rolfe’s collection of negatives and photographs, taken between 1899 and 1959, depicting locations throughout California and the Western United States, are housed at the Huntington Library Photo Archives.
    Finding Aid for the Historical Society of Southern California Collection – Frank Rolfe Collection of Negatives and Photographs. Retrieved from http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/kt4n39q8k3/.
    General Bidwell dead. (1900, April 5). Los Angeles Times.
    Rolfe, F. (1921, March). The Southwest Section of the Seismological Society of America. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 11(1). 5.
    Tufts, C. T. (1967). Southwest Museum plans new library building. The Masterkey, 41(1). 5.

    Processing history

    Processed by Glenna Schroeder, circa 1977-1981. Biographical note created by Maritxu de' Alaiza 2012 May. Finding aid updated and completed by Anna Liza Posas, 2013 August. Processing of collection and publication of finding aid made possible by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). Finding aid revised by Angel Diaz, Cataloger for the Metabolic Studios Grant Project, 2013 October.


    Collection is open for research. Appointments to view materials are required. To make an appointment please visit http://theautry.org/research/research-rules-and-application or contact library staff at rroom@theautry.org. An item-level inventory is available from library staff.


    Copyright has not been assigned to the Autry National Center. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Autry Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Autry National Center as the custodian of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Preferred citation

    Frank Rolfe Papers and Photographs, 1859-1960, Braun Research Library Collection, Autry National Center, Los Angeles; MS.210; [folder number] [folder title][date].


    Gift of Frank Rolfe, 1963.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Bidwell, John, 1819-1900
    Los Angeles (Calif.). Department of Water and Power. Engineering Department.
    Rolfe, Alana B. Bishop
    Agriculture -- California
    Business records
    Field notes
    Irrigation -- California, Southern
    Los Angeles Aqueduct (Calif.)
    Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.)
    Rivers -- California, Southern
    San Bernardino County (Calif.)
    Tin mines and mining
    Water use -- California