Guide to the Federico and Bertha Claveria Collection CEMA 130

Finding aid prepared by Callie Bowdish, Clarence Chan, Danely Segoviano
University of California, Santa Barbara, Davidson Library, Department of Special Collections, California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives
Santa Barbara, California, 93106-9010
(805) 893-8563

Title: Federico and Bertha Claveria Collection
Identifier/Call Number: CEMA 130
Contributing Institution: University of California, Santa Barbara, Davidson Library, Department of Special Collections, California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives
Language of Material: English
Physical Description: 8.0 boxes
Date: ca.1940 - ca.1990s
Abstract: The Federico and Bertha Claveria Collection is made up of administrative records, subject files, correspondence, clippings, photographs and negatives, ephemera and other miscellaneous memorabilia documenting activities of the life of Federico Claveria, his family, and La Tolteca Tortilla Factory and restaurant. It Includes photographs taken by Claveria himself during his time as a Marine photographer.

Biographical/Historical note

Federico Antonio Maldonado Claveria was born on June 13, 1908 in Mexico City to Santurino Claveria and Maria Maldonado Claveria. His father emigrated to Mexico from the Basque Country, his mother was a native to Mexico City; the two had a total of three sons. The Claverias moved to San Antonio, Texas from Mexico City in 1912, during the Mexican Revolution. A little thereafter, the family moved to Los Angeles, where they would eventually become American citizens. At the time of the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941, Federico Claveria was 33 years of age and strongly desired to join the war effort of the U.S. Marines. Unfortunately, the status of his citizenship delayed his enlistment. Upon obtaining American citizenship, Claveria again met another speed bump when he failed his military physical due to his color blindness. The zealous Claveria did not take no for an answer. With his past experience in the Hollywood film industry as a commercial artist for RKO and Warner Bros. Studios, Federico Claveria became Private Federico “Freddie” Claveria, photographer and filmer of the U.S. Marines. He was placed in the Fifth Amphibious Corps, under Major General Holland M. Smith, who led them in the invasions of Saipan and Tinnian on the Pacific front of WWII. On July 16, 1946 Claveria was discharged as Technical Sergeant Claveria of the Marine Corps, returning home to his long-time girlfriend, Bertha Ciriza.
After their marriage, Federico and Bertha Claveria moved to Santa Barbara, CA and started their own tortilla factory on December 18, 1946 naming it, La Tolteca, after the Aztec word “metropolis." This would be the third of a total of seven tortilla factory/restaurants under the same name. The other six locations were owned by Claveria’s uncles and a friend, spanning from Southern California to Phoenix, Arizona. Working hard 12-hour shifts, Freddie and Bertha were eventually able to open up a restaurant location under the same name in Santa Barbara. By the 80s La Tolteca had become a prominent business in the Santa Barbara County, raking in 1 million dollars in annual sales and supplying over 40 other restaurants in Santa Barbara and neighboring counties. At this time, the company employed about 40 full-time employees producing about 720,000 tortillas weekly; this feat gained them the Certificate of Achievement by the Valley Grain Products, Inc in 1986. Two years later the Claverias were again honored when the family business received the Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce Recognition Award. Federico Claveria died on Sunday, June 5, 1993 at the St. Francis Medical Center. The restaurant remained in the Claveria family until its closing in 2006, 60 years after its opening. The current owner of the building has placed a commemorative plaque at the site, commemorating La Tolteca's six decades of serving the Santa Barbara community. La Tolteca’s iconic Model T Ford "Pie Wagon" was sold for 13,000 dollars in an auction to a local firm, Goodman Reed Motorcars, LLC who have added it to their perminant collection on Santa Barbara history. Claveria received a military ceremony and is buried at the Santa Barbara Cemetery. Claveria was survived by his wife Bertha, and their two sons Federico Santurino and Carlos.
Federico Claveria lived a full life and left a lasting mark on those lives that he touched. He was quoted saying that one of his proudest moments was meeting President Ronald Reagan during a press luncheon. The president expressed a liking to Claveria’s hat, which was decorated with military pins and regalia. Claveria has been credited with developing the first significant automated tortilla making process. Aside from his culinary and photographic expertise, Claveria was a coin collector, being a part of the Assay Coin Collection since 1975, and a marksman, being a part of the Santa Barbara Pistol Club. His other affiliations are the Santa Barbara Elks Lodge, the American Legion, and the Masonic Lodge. Finally, the United States Marine Corps Combat Correspondents Association awarded the annual Donald L. Dickson Memorial Award to Claveria in 1985.

Conditions Governing Access note


Conditions Governing Use note

Copyright belongs to UC Regents.

Scope Note

The Federico and Bertha Claveria Collection, CEMA 130, contains biographical material highlighting the life of Federico Claveria with an emphasis on his military career and his family-owned tortilla factory, La Tolteca, located in Santa Barbara, CA. The collection includes administrative documents, advertising materials, photographs, slides, negatives, and an extensive biographical section that includes articles about La Tolteca, Claveria’s time as a Marine, and a scrapbook put together by the Claveria family. The administrative documents span anywhere from the restaurant menus, record keeping, to legal documents. Within the advertising materials there are materials used to prepare the advertisements, and some of the finalized advertisements in the form of signs and ads that appeared in magazines or newspapers. The photographs include those taken by Claveria as a Marine photographer during WWII, in the Saipan and Tinnian invasions. Other photos are those taken for business use of the company, of employees, and inside the tortilla factory. Important to note within the photographs and articles series is La Tolteca's Iconic Model T Ford. Materials from this collection span from the 1940s – 1990s.

Series Descriptions

Series I Personal and Biographical Information 1946 - 1993
This section consists of articles and photos that give insight on the personal life of Federico Claveria, which is mostly independent of his business activity in La Tolteca tortilla factory. There is special attention given to his life as a Marine Corps photographer, a scrapbook put together by the family, and also a family video titled, "Dukie's 6th Birthday".
Series II Business Related Material 1946 - ca.2010
The business materials consist largely of La Tolteca’s legal documents, sales contracts, wholesale price lists, and formal correspondence records from other business and government departments. Records of the Model T purchase can be found in the sales contracts. The records include the Certificate of Achievement Award that La Tolteca received from the Valley Grains Products, Inc. in 1986. Other notable materials are some of the menus and other memorabilia saved by the Claverias.
Series III Business Articles 1946 - ca.2005
The majority of the articles found in this section pertain to La Tolteca, and vary from reviews to publicity. This section gives an in-depth look at the lifetime of the factory from when it started until the selling of the company in 1993. Also included are two “Fiesta” editions of the Santa Barbara News Press from July 31, 1983.
Series IV Advertising Materials ca.1950 - ca. 1990
Advertising materials include the templates and sample ads prepared for use with the printing press or for visualization. There also includes many ads that were found in newspapers and magazines, and this part may overlap with some of the documents found in Series 3, Articles. Apart from the advertisements, also included are signs for La Tolteca.
Series V Photographs, Slides, and Negatives ca.1940 - ca.1995
Pictures depict factory and restaurant processes, family portraits, gatherings and parties, and of Claveria during his time in the war. Also included are photographs and negatives snapped by Federico Claveria himself during the Saipan and Tinnian invasions of WWII.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Donation by Carlos Claveria (son).

Preferred Citation note

Federico and Bertha Claveria Collection, CEMA 130, Department of Special Collections, University Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Santa Barbara County (Calif.)--History, Local.


Series 1 Personal and Biographical Information 1946 - 1993

Box 1, Folder 3

Basque Cultural Events ca. 1985


Newspaper articles
Film V4642/F1

"Dukie's 6th Birthday"


16mm film
Box 3, Folder 5

Family Scrapbook

Box 1, Folder 4



Article on Claveria as a coin collector
Box 1, Folder 1

Leatherneck Magazine of the Marines January 1986

Box 1, Folder 2

Leatherneck Magazine of the Marines September 1955

Box 4, Folder 6

Marine Articles


Series 2 Business Related Materials 1946 - ca.2005

Box 1, Folder 6

Business Checks and Invoices

Box 1, Folder 8

Certificate of Achievement 1986


Original recieved from the Valley Grains Product, Inc
Box 1, Folder 7

Correspondence ca. 1940s - 1990

Box 1, Folder 12



Stickers, bumper stickers, and little fliers
Box 3, Folder 2

La Tolteca Blueprints

Box 1, Folder 9

La Tolteca Memos

Box 1, Folder 5

La Tolteca Menus

Box 7, 8



Contains hats, mugs, and chip bag clippers
Box 4, Folder 12

"No Checks" Policy Board

Box 1, Folder 10

Packing and Wholesale Lists

Box 4, Folder 4

Product Wrappers

Box 1, Folder 11

Receipts, Shipping Records, and Sales Records

Box 1

Record Keeping Journals

Box 3, Folder 1

Santa Barbara News-Press "Fiesta" Edition July 31, 1983

Box 3, Folder 4

Watercolor Painting of La Tolteca


Series 3 Business Articles 1946 - ca.2005

Box 1, Folder 13 - 16

Magazine and Newspaper Publicity Articles ca. 1958- ca. 1990

Box 4, Folder 5

Magazine and Newspaper Publicity Articles ca. 1984 - 1985

Box 5, Folder 4

Magazine and Newspaper Publicity Articles 1986

Box 1, Folder 17

Selling of La Tolteca 1993


Newspaper article

Series 4 Advertising Materials ca.1950 - ca.1995

Box 1, Folder 17, 18


Box 4, Folder 1


Box 5, Folder 2


Box 1, Folder 20 - 23

Ad Templates

Box 4, Folder 2, 3

Ad Templates

Box 5, Folder 1

Ad Templates

Box 5



Series 5 Photographs, Slides, and Negatives ca.1940 - ca.1995

Box 6

Christmas Party, Other Events, and Promotions


Includes some negatives
Box 1, Folder 25, 26

Factory and Restaurant Work

Box 2, Folder 3 - 5

Factory and Restaurant Work

Box 3, Folder 3

Factory and Restaurant Work

Box 4, Folder 10, 11

Factory and Restaurant Work

Box 5, Folder 3

Factory and Restaurant Work

Box 6

Factory and Restaurant Work

Box 2, Folder 1

Family Photos

Box 4, Folder 7, 9

Family Photos

Box 6

Family Photos

Box 6

KEYT News Report of La Tolteca and Filming Process

Box 2, Folder 2

La Tolteca Car Accident


Photos from when a car spun out of control and into La Tolteca Restaurant
Box 6

La Tolteca Food


Includes photos of the cooking process
Box 6

La Tolteca Product in Stores

Box 4, Folder 8

La Tolteca's 36th Anniversary


Photo of Bertha and Freddie about to cut the cake
Box 24

Marine Years


Photos and negatives taken of Claveria, and others by Claveria during WWII
Box 2, Folder 6

Picture with President Reagan

Box 4, Folder 7

Picture with President Reagan