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Finding Aid to the George Christopher Papers, 1950-2000 (bulk 1956-1963), SFH 7
SFH 7  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Provenance
  • Related Materials
  • Related Archival Materials
  • Materials Transferred
  • Technical Requirements
  • Biographical/Historical Note
  • Scope and Contents
  • Arrangement

  • Title: George Christopher Papers
    Date (inclusive): 1950-2000
    Date (bulk): 1956-1963
    Collection Identifier: SFH 7
    Creator: Christopher, George
    Physical Description: 69 boxes, 1 flat file (53 cubic feet)
    Contributing Institution: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library
    100 Larkin Street
    San Francisco, CA 94102
    (415) 557-4567
    Abstract: 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.
    Physical Location: 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.

    Publication Rights

    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.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], George Christopher Papers (SFH 7), San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.


    This collection has been received in five accessions. The first accession, received prior to 1995, was transferred from City Hall; this is the bulk of the collection. A second accession of materials was received from George Christopher's estate in 2003. These included campaign materials, photographs, audio/visual 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 family in 2008. A fourth accession was received from the University of the Pacific in 2018. This consisted of real estate transfers and correspondence. The fifth accession was received from the estate of John H. Anderson in 2019. This covered urban renewal and municipal management.

    Related Materials

    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.

    Materials Transferred

    Photographs have been transferred to the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection.

    Technical Requirements

    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.

    Biographical/Historical Note

    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 activities.
    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.
    Mayors--California--San Francisco.
    San Francisco (Calif.)--Politics and government--20th century.
    Urban renewal--California--San Francisco.