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Finding Aid to the Wm. Ham. Hall Papers, 1803-1979, bulk 1870-1928
BANC MSS 86/152 c  
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Collection Details
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  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Information
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Wm. Ham. Hall papers
    Date (inclusive): 1803-1979,
    Date (bulk): bulk 1870-1928
    Collection Number: BANC MSS 86/152 c
    Creators : Hall, Wm. Ham. (William Hammond)
    Extent: Number of containers: 17 boxes, 15 cartons, 12 volumes, 1 oversize folder Linear feet: 28 linear feet
    Repository: The Bancroft Library
    University of California, Berkeley
    Berkeley, California, 94720-6000
    Phone: (510) 642-6481
    Fax: (510) 642-7589
    Email: bancref@library.berkeley.edu
    URL: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/
    Abstract: The William Hammond Hall Papers, consist of correspondence, writings, diaries, maps, photographs, notes, and clippings recording the fifty year career of a pioneer in the fields of irrigation, reclamation, and conservation.
    Languages Represented: Collection materials are in English.
    Physical Location: Many of the Bancroft Library collections are stored offsite and advance notice may be required for use. For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

    Information for Researchers


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has been assigned to The Bancroft Library. Materials in these collections are protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) and may not be used without permission of The Bancroft Library. Use may be restricted by terms of University of California gift or purchase agreements, privacy and publicity rights, licensing terms, and trademarks. All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from, or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley 94720-6000. See: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html .
    Restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Wm. Ham. Hall Papers, BANC MSS 86/152 c, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Alternate Forms Available

    Partial collection is available on microfilm, Wm. Ham. Hall papers, 1803-1979 (bulk 1870-1928) BANC MSS 86/152 c.

    Related Collections

    Photographs relating to William Hammond Hall's life and work, BANC PIC 1986.009

    Separated Material

    Photographs have been transferred to the Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft Library.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Hall, Wm. Ham. (William Hammond)
    California. Office of State Engineer
    Golden Gate Park (San Francisco, Calif.)
    San Francisco Earthquake, Calif., 1906

    Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information

    The William Hammond Hall Papers were purchased by The Bancroft Library from James D. Santee on July 1, 1985.


    No additions are expected.

    System of Arrangement

    Arranged to the folder level.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Mary Ellen Jones in 1990; revised by Mary Morganti in 2004.

    Biographical Information

    William Hammond Hall was born in Hagerstown, Maryland on February 12, 1846, the son of Anna Maria Hammond and John Buchanan Hall. The family came to California in 1850 and his father established a law practice that flourished until his office and library were destroyed in the fire of 1851. Later that year the family settled in Stockton where John Hall reestablished his law practice and became legal advisor to Charles M. Weber, the city's founder. Hall's education in a private academy was designed to prepare him for West Point but the outbreak of the Civil War caused his parents to abandon this plan. He remained in the Stockton academy until 1865 when he began his professional career in civil engineering as a draftsman and surveyor for the United States Corps of Engineers. He quickly advanced to assistant engineer and, as chief engineer, conducted the first survey for a ship canal to bring deep-sea vessels to the port of Stockton.
    Early in 1870, Hall was appointed by the first San Francisco Board of Park Commissioners to conduct a topographic survey of the Golden Gate Park site. His plan for the development of the Park was adopted by the Commission and he became engineer and superintendent of construction. In the next six years most of the roads were built, trees and bushes were planted, picnic grounds and a children's play area were laid out, and various rustic buildings were constructed. Hall resigned in 1876 but served for many years without compensation as consulting engineer to the Park Commission. In that capacity he designed and built numerous buildings and other improvements, and selected and trained John McLaren to be the new superintendent.
    From 1876 to 1878, Hall was chief engineer for several major irrigation projects, including the West Side Irrigation Commission, at that time one of the largest single irrigation studies in the state. In 1878, he was appointed the first State Engineer of California by Governor William Irwin and served under four successive governors until the office was abolished by the state legislature. During this period he worked with many prominent engineers, including Barton S. Alexander, George H. Mendell, and James B. Eads. In addition, he hired and trained numerous young engineers, including three who later achieved prominence: Carl Ewald Grunsky, Marsden Manson, and James Dix Schuyler. In 1889, he was appointed supervising engineer for the United States Irrigation Survey, the predecessor of the U.S. Reclamation Service, to oversee all of their investigative work west of the Rocky Mountains.
    While working in London in 1896, Hall accepted an offer to supervise construction of a water storage system for the Johannesburg mining region in South Africa. He was also in charge of several other projects in the area until the work was stopped because of the Boer War. Before returning to the United States, Hall went to Russia to survey and report on irrigation projects in the Transcaucasus and Central Asia. Back in California, he made a study of the proposed Panama Canal which convinced Senator George C. Perkins to advocate the lock system instead of a sea level canal. Hall continued with numerous hydroelectric and irrigation surveys and, in 1908, acquired properties in the Lake Eleanor and Cherry Creek water sheds which he sold to the city of San Francisco for their water supply.
    Hall remained active as consultant and self-appointed guardian of Golden Gate Park until several years before his death in 1934.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The William Hammond Hall Papers, 1803-1979, consist of correspondence, writings, diaries, maps, photographs, notes, and clippings recording the fifty year career of a pioneer in the fields of irrigation, reclamation, and conservation.
    The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence and papers created and compiled by Hall during his career as a civil engineer. The collection also includes correspondence and papers of his wife, Emma Kate Fitzhugh Hall, their three daughters, Anna Hammond Hall, Margaret Fitzhugh Hall, and Katharine Buchanan Hall, and various members of the Hall, Hammond, Buchanan, Fitzhugh, and related families.
    The William Hammond Hall papers remained in the family until the death of Hall's youngest daughter in 1972. They were inherited by a cousin and, following his death, were offered for sale by his inheritors.