Biography / Administrative History
Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Genevieve Didion papers
Bulk Dates: 1938-1950
Collection number: MS0027
Native Daughters of the Golden West
3.5 linear feet
Center for Sacramento History
Sacramento, California 95811-0229
Abstract: The Genevieve Didion Papers are comprised of 3.5 cubic feet of textual and photographic material, bound volumes, and artifacts
and ephemera chronicling the life of Genevieve Didion, a Sacramento woman involved in the preservation of local and state
history and the improvement of education and youth services. The collection documents her work from 1918-1973 as part of
the Native Daughters of the Golden West, the Sacramento Board of Education, and other local efforts related to history and
Physical location: 30J5, MC 11:06, MC 15:03
Languages represented in the collection:
Collection is open for research use.
All requests to publish or quote from private collections held by the Center for Sacramento History (CSH) must be submitted
in writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. Permission for publication is given on behalf of CSH as the owner of the physical
items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the patron.
No permission is necessary to publish or quote from public records.
[Identification of item], Genevieve Didion papers , MS0027, Center for Sacramento History.
Donated by Mary Armstrong Didion to the Center for Sacramento History in 1984
Genevieve Didion Papers processed by Jessica Knox, 2009. Finding Aid prepared by Jessica Knox.
Biography / Administrative History
Genevieve Didion was born in 1897 in the Sacramento Valley, where her family had settled in the late 1800s. Raised in a pioneer
family, Genevieve Didion strove to preserve the pioneer heritage of Sacramento. Throughout her life she was instrumental
in documenting and celebrating the city’s history, and dedicated herself to improving education and providing opportunities
for Sacramento’s youth.
Genevieve Didion was an active member of the Sacramento Parlor of the Native Daughters of the Golden West, a statewide organization
dedicated to reverence of California’s pioneers and preservation of the state’s history. As a member of the Native Daughters
of the Golden West, Genevieve Didion spearheaded local efforts to plant memorial groves in memory of California’s pioneers.
She succeeded in establishing the Camellia Grove on the Grounds of the State Capitol, as well as other memorial groves planted
on the grounds of the California State Fair, McClellan and Mather Air Force Bases, and Sutter’s Fort. Genevieve Didion coordinated
social and celebratory events for the Sacramento Parlor, including the Centennial Breakfast at Sutter’s Fort, the Gold Centennial
Ball, and Admissions’ Day parades. She also assisted in the creation of the Native Sons and Daughters of the Golden West
Children’s Foundation, a statewide charitable organization to aid handicapped children not supported by welfare.
Other projects to preserve California’s history interested Genevieve Didion as well. She undertook legislative work in order
to have Admissions’ Day declared a state holiday, and to secure “I Love You, California” as the official state song. She
lobbied for the passage of legislation to require the state flag to be flown with the American flag over all public buildings
in California. In addition to her work to celebrate state history, Genevieve Didion was dedicated to preserving local history.
She was active in the Sacramento County Historical Society, and served as a member of the Sophie Comstock Memorial Commission,
which coordinated the installation of a memorial to the Pony Express at 2nd and J Streets in downtown Sacramento. For these
activities she was recognized by the Grand Parlor of the Native Daughters of the Golden West, and in 1961 received the Woman
of the Year award from the Soroptimist Club of Sacramento.
The youth of Sacramento were also of great interest and importance to Genevieve Didion. She established and acted as director
of the Youth Services Center and the Eaglet Theater for Children. She served as the president of the Sacramento Children’s
Receiving Home. For three gubernatorial administrations, Genevieve Didion served as a member of the Governor’s Youth Conference
Committee. She actively supported the Girl Scouts of America. She also functioned as a member of the Juvenile Justice Delinquency
Prevention Commission, helping to coordinate positive activities for young adults. Genevieve Didion was also devoted to improving
education in Sacramento schools. She was first appointed to the Sacramento Board of Education in 1942, and served until 1960,
when the Board became elective. Voters promptly returned her to her post, where she remained until her death in 1974 at age
Scope and Content of Collection
The first series, Native Daughters of the Golden West, reflects Genevieve Didion’s activities in the Sacramento parlor of
the Native Daughters of the Golden West, a statewide organization dedicated to the preservation of California’s history.
The series consists of twenty-one file folders and one bound volume spanning the time period 1926-1961, and includes material
such as correspondence, news clippings, reports, financial records, notes, speech transcripts, and proceedings of the Sacramento
parlor. Many of Genevieve Didion’s efforts as part of the Native Daughters of the Golden West paid tribute to California’s
pioneers. Genevieve Didion was instrumental in organizing the planting of the Camellia Grove, a living pioneer memorial, on
the grounds of the State Capitol in 1942. She also helped to coordinate events such as the annual Admission’s Day Parade
in downtown Sacramento, the Centennial Breakfast at Sutter’s Fort, and the Native Daughters of the Golden West Gold Discovery
The second series, Correspondence, is arranged into two subseries: J.F. Didion Correspondence and Genevieve Didion Correspondence.
The first subseries, J.F. Didion Correspondence, consists of four file folders of material regarding the activities of J.F.
Didion, Genevieve Didion’s husband, in the Sacramento Parlor of the Native Sons of the Golden West from 1930-1932. The second
subseries, Genevieve Didion Correspondence, consists of two file folders of personal correspondence covering the period 1926-1957,
primarily comprised of thank-you notes from members of the Sacramento parlor of the Native Daughters of the Golden West.
The third series, Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Commission, relates to Genevieve Didion’s involvement with the Sacramento
County Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Commission. The Commission, established by county ordinance in 1965, functioned
as a means to coordinate the activities of governmental and nongovernmental organizations working to prevent juvenile delinquency.
The series consists of one file folder of material from 1972-1973, which includes correspondence and resolutions of the Commission,
meeting minutes, organization charts, and information about Commission membership.
The fourth series, Sophie Comstock Memorial Commission, consists of one file folder chronicling Genevieve Didion’s membership
on the Sophie Comstock Memorial Commission. The Sacramento City Council appointed a 20 member commission in 1961 to oversee
the development of a tribute to the Pony Express, funded by a bequest from Sacramento resident Sophie Pleasants Comstock.
Comstock was a local horse enthusiast who passed away in 1915. Genevieve Didion played an active role on the Commission,
which worked to raise funds, secured land for the memorial, and oversaw the development of the statue. The file contains
correspondence and other material related to the Commission, ranging in date from 1960-1973. The file includes several sketches
of the Pony Express statue.
The fifth series, Sacramento City and County Youth Services Committee, is made up of one file folder of material reflecting
Genevieve Didion’s participation on the committee from 1948-1949. The committee implemented positive programs for children
and young adults, and encouraged parental involvement. The file includes committee and program budgets, committee meeting
minutes, day camp programs and brochures, and information on proposed projects and suggested family activities.
The sixth series, Sacramento Children’s Receiving Home, includes two file folders documenting Genevieve Didion’s three year
term as Director of the Receiving Home, from 1944-1947. The files contain correspondence, news clippings, brochures, reports,
and lists regarding the daily operations of the Receiving Home. Also included is a check register dating from 1918-1923,
detailing the Receiving Home’s regular purchases, like groceries and other goods.
The seventh series, Sacramento Board of Education, consists of one bound volume and three file folders of notes, correspondence
and campaign material relating to Genevieve Didion’s membership on the Sacramento Board of Education. She was first appointed
to the Board in 1942 by the Sacramento City Council, and served for eighteen years before the board became elective in 1960.
She was promptly elected, and continued to serve until her death in 1974. While a member of the Board, she served three terms
as president and succeeded in making California State University, Sacramento into a four-year university. Some material of
note includes correspondence relating to CSU Sacramento, and a bound volume from the Jefferson Parent-Teacher Association.
The series also contains ephemera, including bumper stickers from Genevieve Didion’s 1960 campaign, and a rubbing from Edward
Kelley School presented to her in 1972. Ephemera are located at MC 15:03.
The eighth series, Printed Material, is comprised of eight file folders of published material collected by Genevieve Didion,
the majority of which reflects her interest in the history of California. The publications range in date from 1933-1963.
The files include issues of the official Native Sons and Daughters of the Golden West publication the Grizzly Bear, numerous
issues of the California Herald, material related to Sacramento’s schools, various handbooks on education, childcare, and
housekeeping, and a significant amount of sheet music documenting California folk songs.
The ninth series, Photographs, consists of black and white photographs documenting Genevieve Didion’s activities in Sacramento
from 1936-1963. The majority of the photographs are undated. Many photographs depict the dedication of the Camellia Grove
at the State Capitol in 1942, and the individuals who came to plant camellias in memory of their pioneer ancestors. Photographs
of other memorial groves planted by Genevieve Didion and the Native Daughters of the Golden West at the State Fair Grounds,
McClellan and Mather Air Force Bases, and Sutter’s Fort are also present. Other photographs document various events sponsored
by the Native Daughters of the Golden West, such as the Centennial Breakfast held at Sutter’s Fort, Admissions Day festivities,
and the Gold Discovery Ball. Oversized photographs are located at MC 11:06.
The tenth series, Artifacts and Ephemera, contains many items related to Genevieve Didion’s activities as part of the Native
Daughters of the Golden West and her involvement in local schools, dating from 1941-1960. Included are various ribbons and
name badges from Native Daughters of the Golden West events, Sacramento County pet tags, a “Capital Bowl” pencil, and booklets
and ribbons relating to Genevieve Didion’s husband, J.F. Didion, and his activities as County Tax Collector and employee of
the Capital National Bank of Sacramento. Most notable within the series are several LP records produced by the Sacramento
Senior High School Dance Band between 1944-1960.
Series 1. Native Daughters of the Golden West
Series 2. Correspondence
Series 3. Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Commission
Series 4. Sophie Comstock Memorial Commission
Series 5. Sacramento City and County Youth Services Committee
Series 6. Sacramento Children’s Receiving Home
Series 7. Sacramento Board of Education
Series 8. Printed material
Series 9. Photographs
Series 10. Artifacts and ephemera
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in
the library's online public access catalog.
Native Daughters of the Golden West
Flo Barton Smith, “1961 Women of the Year,” The Sacramento Bee, May 28, 1961, p.CW1.
“Mrs. Didion, School Board Member, Dies,” The Sacramento Bee, March 15, 1974, p.B1.