Related Archival Materials
Scope and Contents
Title: George Christopher Papers
Date (inclusive): 1950-2000
Date (bulk): 1956-1963
Collection Identifier: SFH 7
69 boxes, 1 flat file
(52.0 cubic feet)
San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library
100 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
The collection documents the two-term administration of San Francisco Mayor George Christopher during the years 1956 to 1964,
and to a lesser extent his early years as a Supervisor and his post-mayoral years. Materials include memoranda, reports, correspondence,
photographs, films, audio recordings, and newspaper clippings.
The collection is stored off-site.
Language of Materials: Collection materials are in
English, with a few newspaper clippings in Greek, Russian, and Japanese.
The collection is open for research. A minimum of two working days' notice is required for use. Photographs are available
during Photo Desk hours. Please call the San Francisco History Center for hours and information at 415-557-4567.
Copyright has been assigned to the San Francisco Public Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts
must be submitted in writing to the City Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the San Francisco Public
Library as the owner of the physical items and the copyright.
[Identification of item], George Christopher Papers (SFH 7), San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
This collection has been received in three accessions. The provenance of the first accession, received prior to 1995, is unknown;
most likely, it was transferred from City Hall. A second accession of materials was received by George Christopher's estate
on Oct. 10, 2003 and subsequently folded into the collection. These included campaign materials, photographs, audiovisual
materials, scrapbooks and loose newspaper clippings, plaques and certificates, and Christopher Dairy Farms items. A third
accession of loose newspaper clippings, event programs, and gubernatorial campaign ephemera was received from Christopher's
estate on July 11, 2008 and also folded into the collection.
Researchers are encouraged to see also the San Francisco History Center's subject and biographical files, other Mayoral Papers,
and the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection; and to check the catalog holdings of the San Francisco Public Library
for related materials. The San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection houses the
San Francisco News-Call Bulletin Photograph Archive, which includes photographs documenting Christopher's time in office.
Related Archival Materials
Researchers are encouraged to see a related collection at The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley: The San
Francisco News-Call Bulletin Newspaper Photograph Archive, ca. 1915-1965 (BANC PIC 1959.010—NEG) which has approximately 270
negatives of Mayor Christopher.
Photographs have been transferred to the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection.
During processing, the entire collection was refoldered and re-housed in acid-free folders and boxes. Some metal staples remain.
Some documents on acidic paper were kept in their original state and separated with buffered paper. Several 16mm films were
transferred to digital video discs. A few ¼" audiotape reels were transferred to compact discs, as was a 78 rpm record.
George Christopher was born on December 8, 1907 to James and Mary Christopheles in Arcadia, Greece. Mary and her son joined
James in San Francisco when George was a young boy. His father had a small market located south of Market Street. Christopher's
father became ill when George was a teenager, so he worked during the day while earning his high school diploma and an accounting
degree by night. He established an accounting office and married the former Tula Sarantitis. In the mid-1930s, he founded
what would eventually become Christopher Dairy Farms and later became a millionaire. Christopher's involvement in the Greek
community began with his membership in the American Hellenic Education and Progress Association. His business and civic participation
with fellow Greeks would lead to their solid political support.
At one point a registered Democrat, Christopher was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1945 and later re-registered as
a Republican. He served ten years as a supervisor, becoming President of the Board in 1950. In his first mayoral bid in 1951,
he lost to Elmer Robinson. He then spearheaded the Charter amendment (passed in 1952) creating a two-term mayoral limit. In
the next election, Christopher won in a landslide victory over Democrat George Reilly in 1955, serving two four-year terms
(1956-1964). He made an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate in 1958. Christopher attempted but failed in statewide campaigns,
for Assembly, for Lieutenant Governor alongside Richard Nixon in 1962, and for the Republican gubernatorial candidacy (losing
in a landslide to Ronald Reagan) in 1966. During that campaign, much was made of a misdemeanor milk price-fixing violation.
Under Christopher, the city was transformed from its working-class, waterfront days with projects including the Golden Gateway,
Japan Center, Candlestick Park, and the Embarcadero Freeway. He was proud of building the city, and focused on government
efficiency. Fortune magazine designated San Francisco as "one of the Best Administered Cities in the United States." As mayor,
Christopher signed the Fair Employment Labor Ordinance outlawing discrimination by employers and labor unions. He hosted Soviet
Premier Nikita Khrushchev and French President Charles de Gaulle. Christopher is remembered for moving the Giants baseball
team from New York to San Francisco. Those who were children at the time remember the Christopher Dairies milk cartons with
free coupons to 49er football games.
Following his mayoral duties, Christopher remained active in charity work, business, and civic functions. He was a U.S. alternate
delegate to the United Nations (in 1981), and served as a Department of Commerce advisor. He died on September 14, 2000. His
wife, Tula, preceded him in death. They had no children.
Scope and Contents
This collection documents the two-term administration of Mayor George Christopher during the years of 1956 to 1964, and to
a lesser extent, his early years as a supervisor and later, post-mayoral years. The papers provide a look at city government
while urban renewal gained momentum. The collection also documents Christopher's rise to leadership in civic and political
Materials include memoranda, reports, correspondence, photographs, films and audio recordings, and newspaper clippings. Subjects
include development and urban renewal, and Bay Area Rapid Transit. Some key development projects are not represented, such
as Embarcadero Center, Embarcadero Freeway, and Candlestick Park. Campaign material covers local and statewide races. Speeches
are limited. There is good coverage of two special events, the visit of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, and Osaka-San Francisco
Sister Cities activities. Newspaper clippings and photographs provide a good record of the Mayoral years.
The material has been organized into eight series: Series 1. Correspondence; Series 2. Legislative Files; Series 3. Special
Events; Series 4. Political Campaigns; Series 5. Speeches and Media; Series 6. Photographs; Series 7. Plaques, Certificates,
and Gifts; and Series 8. Business and Personal. Folders in most series (except Speeches and Media and Photographs) are in
alphabetical order by folder title, and then by date. The Speeches and Media and Photographs series are arranged chronologically,except
for materials organized by subject, which are alphabetically arranged. Within folders, materials are filed chronologically.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Christopher, George -- Archives
City planning--California--San Francisco
San Francisco (Calif.)--Politics and government--20th century
Urban renewal--California--San Francisco