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Henry Harbinson Sinclair Papers: Finding Aid
mssSinclair papers  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Related materials
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: Henry Harbinson Sinclair Papers
    Dates (inclusive): 1802-1937
    Bulk dates: 1909-1914
    Collection Number: mssSinclair papers
    Creator: Sinclair, Henry Harbinson, 1858-1914
    Extent: 1,681 pieces in 8 boxes and 1 rolled item
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2191
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: This collection contains diaries, journals, and extensive personal and business correspondence of Henry Harbinson Sinclair (1858-1914), a hydro-electrical engineer and entrepreneur active in California from 1887 until 1914. Subject matter includes mostly business matters of the Great Western Power Company, Palmer Oil Company, Mt. Hood Railway and Power Company, etc.; diaries and notebooks concerning power plant inspection trips, mostly to the Kern River in California; the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association; and the California to Honolulu yacht races. The collection also includes the papers of his son, Arthur W. Sinclair, pertaining to California Delta Farms, Inc.
    Language: English.

    Access

    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. Henry Harbinson Sinclair Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Provenance

    Gift of Arthur W. Sinclair and Marjorie Sinclair, children of H.H. Sinclair, 1936.

    Biographical Note

    Henry Harbinson Sinclair (1858-1914) was a hydro-electrical engineer and entrepreneur active in California from 1887 until 1914. Born December 22, 1858, Sinclair was a native of Brooklyn, New York. Sinclair married the former Agnes Rowley, also of Brooklyn. The couple had two children, a son, Arthur W. Sinclair, and a daughter, Marjorie Sinclair.
    At 15, he went to sea, and first visited California in 1874 after a voyage around Cape Horn. In three years of seafaring, he rose to the rank of Second Mate. Illustrated Redlands for 1897 states: "During 1877 and 1878, Sinclair took a scientific course at Cornell University. He then went into the shipping business in New York as an employee of the firm of Lovell & Sinclair, and afterwards became a partner in the firm of N.B. Sinclair & Son."
    Like so many Northeasterners of that era, he relocated to California for health reasons. He arrived in Redlands, in San Bernardino County's citrus-growing region, in 1887. He purchased thirty acres in the Lugonia tract to raise oranges. He served four years on the first Board of Trustees of the City of Redlands (incorporated in 1888). In 1892, Sinclair, with a number of other investors and businessmen, created the Redlands Electric Light and Power Company, which within a few years created the world's first three-phase electrical system. During his Redlands years, Sinclair also served as a director of the Lugonia Water Co., director of the South Fork Ditch Assn., president of the Southern California Power Co. (from 1897) and part-owner of the Terracina Hotel and related street railway (1892-94). He was a director of both the California Power Co. and Southern California Edison and was at one time the general manager of the Edison Electric Co.
    Among Sinclair's avocations was yachting. In the 1890s and early 1900s, before his health failed, he sailed in a number of races and regattas in the Pacific. During the last few months before his death in 1914, Sinclair was arranging with a northeastern company to either charter or purchase another yacht.
    During the closing years of his life, Sinclair lived in Pasadena and was on the Board of Directors for the Tournament of Roses. He was also a member of the Bohemian Club, a San Francisco-based, men-only social club for "movers and shakers." Though he had homes first in Redlands, then in Pasadena, Sinclair spent much time traveling both to northern California and the East Coast by rail. He faced repeated health problems after 1900 and died in September of 1914.

    Scope and Content

    The Henry H. Sinclair Papers number more than 1,600 items, including diaries, journals, newspaper clippings, and extensive personal and business correspondence. The complete date range is 1802-1937 (bulk dates 1909-1914). Subject matter includes mostly business matters of the Great Western Power Company, Palmer Oil Company, Mt. Hood Railway and Power Company, etc.; diaries and notebooks concerning power plant inspection trips, mostly to the Kern River in California; the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association; the California to Honolulu yacht races. The collection also includes the papers of his son, Arthur W. Sinclair, pertaining to California Delta Farms, Inc.
    Call numbers for the papers in this collection are 1 (1) through 8 (4), with the first digit representing the box number and the second digit the folder within the box. For the most part, items are not foldered individually; however, a rolled diploma from Sinclair's membership in the American Institute of Electric Engineers is slightly oversized and housed separately. A more detailed, searchable database of the attached container list is available at The Huntington Library.

    Related materials

    • Sinclair, Jenkins, Rowley Family Photograph Album (photCL 12)
    • Sinclair, Jenkins, Rowley Family Photographs (photPF 120-149)
    • Additional items in the Huntington Library’s holdings relating to H. H. Sinclair can be found in the Southern California Edison Records (call number 393:7) in the folder Logos and Letterheads (undated).
    • The Special Collections division b of A.K. Smiley Public Library in Redlands, California (125 W. Vine Street), has the other known significant repository of material related to H.H. Sinclair, stemming from his activities in and around the city.

    Arrangement

    The collection is arranged in the following 4 series:
    • Notebooks, Diaries, and Ledgers (Boxes 1, 7, 8)
    • Loose Financial Records (Box 2)
    • Miscellaneous Personal Items (Box 3 and Rolled Item 1)
    • Manuscripts and correspondence (Boxes 4, 5, 6)

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  

    Subjects

    California Delta Farms, Inc.
    Engineers -- California, Southern -- Archives.
    Fontana Water Company.
    Great Western Power Company.
    Hydroelectric power plants -- California -- Kern River.
    Mt. Hood Railway and Power Company.
    Palmer Oil Company.
    Pasadena Community Playhouse.
    Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association.
    Redlands (Calif.)
    Sinclair, Henry Harbinson, 1858-1914 -- Archives.
    Southern California Edison Company.
    Tournament of Roses.
    United Mines.
    Vasquez, Tiburcio, 1835-1875.
    Yachting.
    Yacht racing.

    Forms/Genres

    Business papers -- California.
    Clippings -- California.
    Diaries -- California.
    Letters (correspondence) -- California.
    Personal papers -- California.

    Contributors

    Edmonds, John W. (John Worth), 1799-1874, correspondent.
    Barker, Marks, correspondent.
    Rowley, Agnes Munson, correspondent.
    Rowley, Mary Jenkins, correspondent.
    Sinclair, Arthur W., correspondent.
    Sinclair, Marjorie, correspondent.