Overview of the Collection
Scope and Content
Overview of the Collection
Title: Henry Harbinson Sinclair Papers
Dates (inclusive): 1802-1937
Bulk dates: 1909-1914
Collection Number: mssSinclair papers
1,681 pieces in 8 boxes and 1 rolled item
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2191
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.
Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services
Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.
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.
[Identification of item]. Henry Harbinson Sinclair Papers, The Huntington
Library, San Marino, California.
Gift of Arthur W. Sinclair and Marjorie Sinclair, children of H.H. Sinclair,
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,
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
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.
- 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 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)
California Delta Farms,
Engineers -- California, Southern --
Great Western Power
Hydroelectric power plants -- California
-- Kern River.
Mt. Hood Railway and
Pasadena Tournament of
Harbinson, 1858-1914 -- Archives.
Tournament of Roses.
Business papers --
Clippings -- California.
Diaries -- California.
Letters (correspondence) --
Personal papers --
Edmonds, John W. (John Worth),
Rowley, Agnes Munson,
Rowley, Mary Jenkins,
Sinclair, Arthur W.,