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A guide to the Allan R. Ottley photograph and postcard collection, circa 1900-1992
P97-007 (SAFR 21641)  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Publication and Use Rights
  • Processing Note
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Historical or Biographical Note
  • Collection Scope and Content
  • Collection Arrangement
  • Related Materials

  • Title: Allan R. Ottley photograph and postcard collection
    Date: circa 1900-1992
    Date (bulk): 1902-1950s
    Identifier/Call Number: P97-007 (SAFR 21641)
    Creator: Ottley, Allan R.
    Physical Description: 168 items.
    Repository: San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, Historic Documents Department
    Building E, Fort Mason
    San Francisco, CA 94123
    Abstract: The Allan R. Ottley photograph and postcard collection, 1900-1992 (bulk 1902-1950s), (SAFR 21641, P97-007) is comprised of photographic material Allan used for research and reference, and postcards that were sent to or collected by Allan Ottley and his wife, Nancy. These photographs and postcards are primarily of various types of vessels on the Pacific Coast.
    Physical Location: San Francisco Maritime NHP, Historic Documents Department
    Language(s): In English.


    This collection is open for use unless otherwise noted.
    Nitrate negatives are restricted from use. Digital use-copies can be provided.

    Publication and Use Rights

    Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the researcher's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

    Processing Note

    Accession SAFR-01148 was cataloged first, at the collection level, in 2007. There was no apparent arrangement to the collection and some of the photographs were in original enclosures. In 2012, accession SAFR-00940 was accrued into (SAFR 21641, P97-007). At this time, both accessions were fully processed; each item was given an item number and placed into an appropriate series/file unit. Since there was no apparent original order, the items have been placed in alphabetical order within each series/file unit.
    Dates given for the items reflect the date of manufacture of the photograph or postcard. Many of the photographic prints and postcards in this collection are copies of photographs and were made later than when the original photograph was taken. When the date of the image depicted is different from the manufacture date and is known, it is noted in the respective scope notes.
    The descriptions in this collection guide were compiled using the best available sources of information. Such sources include the creator's annotations or descriptions, collection accession files, primary and secondary source material and subject matter experts. While every effort was made to provide accurate information, in the event that you find any errors in this guide please contact the reference staff in order for us to evaulate and make corrections to this guide.
    Please cite the title and collection number in any correspondence with our staff.

    Preferred Citation

    [Item description], [Location within collection organization identified by Collection Number/Series Number/File Unit Number/Item Number], P97-007 (SAFR 21641), Allan R. Ottley photograph and postcard collection, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

    Acquisition Information

    The first gift (SAFR-940) was received on June 2, 1995, from Allan R. Ottley. The accession contained postcards of various vessels and maritime scenes. This accession was accrued to this collection (SAFR 21641, P97-007) in September 2012, and at this time the collection name was changed to "The Allan R. Ottley photograph and postcard collection."
    The second gift (SAFR-1148) was received on December 2, 2007, from Allan R. Ottley. This accession contained photographs, post cards, pictures and nitrate negatives; personal papers (including correspondence; research notes; a typed manuscript of the unpublished book, LEE RAIL UNDER; and newsletters); and objects (a belaying pin from the ANNIE M. REID, two plates and a lapel pin). The personal papers and objects received with this accession have each been cataloged separately. In 2007, the photographic material in SAFR-01148 was cataloged as the "Allan R. Ottley photograph collection" (SAFR 21641, P97-007).

    Historical or Biographical Note

    Allan Robert Ottley (1909-2000) was a librarian and supervisor of the California Room at the California State Library from 1953-1971. He was also an historian and author.
    Allan Robert Ottley was born on March 4, 1909 in Vancouver, B.C. to Montague R. Ottley and Catherine Annie Ottley (also seen spelled as Katherine), who were both born in England. The family moved to California when he was 13. Ottley graduated from Santa Barbara High School and earned a B.A. in English and Journalism from Santa Barbara State College in 1934. He trained as a librarian in Riverside, and later worked for the Humboldt County and Sacramento City Libraries, as well as on a WPA cataloging project for the California Department of Education. He was married to Ruth "Nancy" C. Carroll Ottley (January 13, 1913-October 19, 1992).
    Ottley served with the Navy in the South Pacific during WWII and was mustered on U.S.S. Antrim (AK-159) on August 24, 1945. After his service, he began his long association with the California Section of the California State Library. According to historian Albert L. Hurtado, he became supervisor of the California Room in 1953 and held that post until he retired in 1971. Ottley served on several committees of the California Library Association, and he was a founding member and past-president of the Sacramento Book Collectors Club and the Sacramento County Historical Society. Governor Pat Brown appointed Ottley to serve on the Civil War Centennial Commission, the California History Commission and the California Heritage Preservation Commission. Ottley's first book, the "first substantial biography of John A. Sutter, Jr." was the second volume published by the Sacramento Book Collectors Club. "The Sutter Family and the Origins of Gold Rush Sacramento," edited, with a biography by Ottley, was originally published in 1943 and reissued, with an introduction by Hurtado, in 2002. Ottley also wrote other books, including "John A. Sutter's Last Days: The Bidwell Letters" which was published in 1986.
    Ottley published numerous works for the Sacramento Book Collectors Club, Sidewalk History and the Sacramento City Historic Landmarks Commission and many articles for such journals as the California Historian, Proceedings of the Conference of California Historical Societies and the quarterly newsletter of the Book Club of California. In addition to being works of history, his publications were considered fine examples of the bookmaker's art. Ottley won the Sacramento Book Club's coveted Oscar Lewis award for Western History in 1999. He died on December 30, 2000, in Beaverton, Oregon at the age of 91.


    • California State Library. (1999). Guide to the Allan Ottley papers. Accessed from the Online Archive of California at http://content.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/tf2x0n98t4/
    • Library and Archives of Canada. (2007). 1911 Census of Canada. Census Place: New
    • Westminster, British Columbia; Page: 28; Family No: 198. Accessed September 11, 2012, from from ancestry.com
    • State of California. (2000). California Death Index, 1940-1997. Place: Sacramento; Date: 19 Oct
    • 1992; Social Security: 558143981. Accessed on September 11, 2012, from ancestry.com
    • Sutter, J., & Ottley, A. R. (2002). Sutter Family and the Origins of Gold-Rush Sacramento. University of Oklahoma Press. E-book version retrieved on September 11, 2012, from http://www.netlibrary.com.ezproxy.sfpl.org/Reader/
    • United States of America Bureau of the Census. (1940). United States Federal Census:
    • Place: Sacramento, Sacramento, California; Roll: T627_282; Page: 7B; Enumeration District: 34-53. Accessed September 11, 2012, from ancestry.com


    • 1909 - Born in Vancouver, B. C.
    • 1934 - Graduated from Santa Barbara State College (currently known as the University of California, Santa Barbara)
    • 1939 - Founded Sacramento Book Collectors Club
    • 1943 - Published "The Sutter Family and the Origins of Gold Rush Sacramento"
    • 1963 - Published "Crypt of Sacramento's Founder"
    • 1953 - Became supervisor of the California Room of the California State Library
    • 1971 - Retired from the California State Library
    • 1986 - Published "John A. Sutter's Last Days: The Bidwell Letters"
    • 1999 - Won the Oscar Lewis Award for Western History
    • 2000 - Died in Beaverton, Oregon

    Collection Scope and Content

    The Allan R. Ottley photograph and postcard collection, 1900-1992 (bulk 1902-1950s), (SAFR 21641, P97-007) is comprised of photographic material Allan used for research and reference, and postcards that were sent to or collected by Allan Ottley and his wife, Nancy. These photographs and postcards are primarily of various types of vessels on the Pacific Coast.
    Consists of black-and-white photographic prints; nitrate negatives; color lithographs; Christmas cards; and black-and-white and color photographic and picture postcards of vessels and places. Most of the vessels are pictured along the Pacific Coast or on the Sacramento River, California. The places depicted are primarily on the Pacific Coast, including Mexico. Many of the vessels are paddle steamers and other passenger vessels, but also include yachts, square-rigged vessels, schooners, merchant vessels and government vessels. Not all vessels are identified by name.

    Collection Arrangement

    Organized into two series: Series 1: Reference and research materials; Series 2: Postcard collection.
    Series 2 is further organized into two file units: File Unit 1: Vessels; File Unit 2: Places.
    The collection is arranged alphabetically by vessel and place names within each series or file unit.

    Related Materials

    Manuscript Collection: Allan R. Ottley papers, 1823-1997 (bulk 1931-1971). (SAFR 21639, HDC1374) This collection consists of approximately one linear foot of correspondence, notes and typescripts related to librarian Allan R. Ottley's research on sea racing and ships in California.

    Object Collections:

    • Sign. (SAFR 15300). "Flags," undated.
    • Sign. (SAFR 15402). "Officers W.C.," undated.
    • Pin, Belaying. (SAFR 15422). ANNIE M. REED Rolph 1892 4M Bark, circa 1910-1935.
    • Button. (SAFR 15423). Opening of San Francisco's Pier 96 Lash Port, 1972.
    • This material is located at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park
    Manuscript Collection: Allan Ottley papers, ca. 1955-1979. (2212-2219). Guide available at http://content.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/tf2x0n98t4/
    • This material is located at California State Library

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Postcards--Collectors and collecting
    Marine photography
    Merchant ships--United States--History--20th century
    Paddle steamers
    Passenger ships
    Cargo ships
    Government vessels--United States
    Coastwise shipping--Pacific Coast (U.S.)
    Shipping--Pacific Coast (North America)--History--Pictorial works
    Ships--California--San Francisco--Pictorial works
    Ottley, Allan. R.
    America (yacht)
    Solano (built 1879; railroad ferry)
    Canadian Pacific Railway Company
    Pacific Coast (U.S.)
    Mare Island Naval Shipyard
    Sacramento Valley (Calif.)
    Sacramento (Calif.)
    San Francisco Bay Area (Calif.)
    Black-and-white prints (photographs)
    Black-and-white negatives
    Cellulose nitrate film
    Color lithographs
    Gelatin silver prints
    Offset lithographs
    Photographic postcards
    Photomechanical prints
    Picture postcards