John Adams Papers MS-0377

Ellen E. Jarosz
Special Collections & University Archives
5500 Campanile Dr. MC 8050
San Diego, CA 92182-8050

Contributing Institution: Special Collections & University Archives
Title: John Adams Papers
Creator: Adams, John
Identifier/Call Number: MS-0377
Physical Description: 1.46 Linear Feet
Date (inclusive): 1919-1987
Date (bulk): 1930-1979
Language of Material: English .

Scope and Contents

The John Adams Papers document Adams' publications and research, his years at San Diego State College as a professor, department chair, and University Archivist, his relationship with San Diego Union as book reviewer, and some limited parts of his personal life. The collection dates from approximately 1919-1982, with the bulk of documents created from the 1930s-1970s. The collection consists predominantly of publications and correspondence created during John Adams years at Michigan and San Diego State College. It is divided into four series: Publications, San Diego State College, San Diego Union, and Personal. Several other collections donated by John and Jane are described and housed separately from these materials. They are listed under a subsequent heading in this finding aid.
The Publications documents the public face of John Adams' during his years at the University of Michigan and San Diego State College. Included are some of Adams' own articles published at Michigan, as well as some books and manuscripts he edited or helped other authors complete. It is arranged alphabetically by file name, and dates from 1921-74.
The San Diego State College series dates from 1931 to 1972, with the bulk of documents generated during the 1950s, and documents John Adams' departure from the University of Washington, as well as his work at San Diego State College. The series is almost entirely comprised of correspondence documenting such varied topics as the dedication of the Adams Humanities Building and the establishment of San Diego State University's University Archives. Folders are arranged chronologically, but there is little order within each folder.
The San Diego Union series dates from 1931-1982, with the bulk of documents generated during the 1930s. The series documents Adams' work reading and publishing book reviews in the San Diego Union, consisting primarily of correspondence between the author and editors. Book reviews published after the 1930s are covered somewhat unevenly. Files are arranged both in alpha-numeric order.
[url=]Now available online[/url], the Personal series, dating from 1926-1977 documents John and Jane Adams' work as private collectors and the process of donating materials to SDSU's Special Collections and University Archives department, as well as their personal lives and relationships. It includes correspondence about collecting political buttons, books, memorabilia and ephemera, postcards, and papers, as well as some family correspondence and Christmas postcards by notable artist and friend of the Adams', Everett Gee Jackson. The final folders of this series are letters, often poignant, to the Adams' from SDSU students serving in WWII, telling of their experiences, hopes, and fears. Of note in this series is a letter from Some D. Ching, a Chinese-American student who admired Dr. Adams. He speaks of the privilege of education and its role in America and the world after the war. It is arranged alphabetically by file name.

Arrangement Note

I. Publications, 1921-74
II. San Diego State College, 1931-1972
III. San Diego Union, 1931-1982
IV. Personal, 1926-1977

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright interests in some the materials found in this collection are owned by San Diego State University.  Some materials may be in the public domain.  Special Collections and University Archives can only grant permission to publish materials for which it is the copyright holder.  For further information, please consult the section on copyright in the rules for using the collections, or contact the United States Copyright Office at (202) 707-3000 or

Source of Acquisition

John Adams

Related Materials

Jane Adams Recipe and Menu Collection, 1920-1959
John and Jane Adams Artwork Collection, 1890-1936
John and Jane Adams Autograph Album Collection, 1851-1933
John and Jane Adams Ephemera Collection, 1856-1996
John and Jane Adams Greeting Card Collection, 1830-1970
John and Jane Adams Photograph Collection, 1840-1946
John and Jane Adams Postcard Collection, 1880-2007
John and Jane Adams Trade Card Collection, 1975-1915
WWII San Diego State College Servicemen's Correspondence Collection, 1941-1946

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, folder title, box number, John Adams Papers, Special Collections and University Archives, San Diego State University Library.

Biographical Note

John Adams was born 22 July 1900 in Cincinnati, Ohio. While attending college at the University of Michigan, John met and married his wife, Jane. In 1925 the couple moved to Seattle where John had secured a position at the University of Washington.
While in Seattle John contracted tuberculosis, and so, in 1928 the couple moved to San Diego to help improve his health. He soon accepted a position at San Diego State Teachers College teaching English Composition. As part of his long career at San Diego State, Dr. Adams eventually became Chairman of Humanities, a post he held from 1956 to his retirement in 1968.
Throughout his years at Michigan, Washington, and San Diego State, John Adams worked to publish articles, books, and book reviews, and built numerous collections with his wife, Jane, of postcards, cookbooks, books, and ephemera, etc. Much of the correspondence generated in these pursuits is included in the collection.
After his retirement in 1968, John Adams became part-time university archivist for San Diego State College. John and Jane donated generously to the university. Their donations consisted of books, postcards, ephemera, and manuscripts. One of the university's most noted academicians, Dr. Adams' name graces the Adams Humanities Building, which opened in 1977. Both John and his wife were charter members of the Friends of the Library, with John serving as chairman of the group.



Subjects and Indexing Terms

Personal Papers
Adams, John R., 1900-1994--Archives
San Diego State University--Faculty--Biography--Sources
San Diego State University. Library. Department of Special Collections--History--Sources

box 1

Publications Series 1 1921-1974

box 1, folder 1

1921, 1923, 1972 Folder 1

box 1, folder 2

1941, 1954, 1959 Folder 2

box 1, folder 3

San Diego Authors Folder 3 1967-74

box 1, folder 4

Stowe Book edited by Adams Folder 4 1972

box 1, folder 5

Stowe Book Manuscript Folder 5 n.d.


San Diego State College Series 2 1931-1972

box 1, folder 6

Adams Humanities Building Folder 6 1966-77

box 1, folder 7

Addresses Given Folder 7 1956-72

box 1, folder 8

Correspondence Folder 8 1930s and 1940s

box 2, folder 1

Correspondence Folder 1 1950s

box 2, folder 2

Correspondence Folder 2 1950s

box 2, folder 3

Correspondence Folder 3 1960s

box 2, folder 4

Correspondence Folder 4 1970s and 1980s

box 2, folder 5

Establishment of University Archives Folder 5 1952-76

box 2, folder 6

Phono Disc: Date with Knowledge Folder 6 1947 (78 speed)

box 2, folder 7

Western College Association Correspondence Folder 7 1955-59


San Diego Union Series 3 1931-1982

box 2, folder 8

Book Review Editor Correspondence Folder 8 1919

box 2, folder 9

Book Review Editor Correspondence Folder 9 1930s

box 3, folder 1

Book Review Editor Correspondence Folder 1 1930s

box 3, folder 2

Book Review Editor Correspondence Folder 2 1930s

box 3, folder 3

Book Review Editor Correspondence Folder 3 1947-82

box 3, folder 4

Book Review Editor Correspondence, Carey McWilliams Folder 4

box 3, folder 5

Book Review, Gospel According to Pontins Pilate Folder 5

box 3, folder 6

Literary Guide Posts Folder 6 1932-33

box 3, folder 7

Social Notes Folder 7


Personal Series 4 1926-1977

Scope and Contents

This series is [url=]now available online[/url]. The final folders of this series are letters, often poignant, to the Adams' from SDSU students serving in WWII, telling of their experiences, hopes, and fears.
box 3, folder 8

Adams Memorabilia Folder 8

box 3, folder 9

Cook Books Correspondence Folder 9 1940

box 3, folder 10

Book Collecting and General Correspondence Folder 10 1930-35

box 3, folder 11

Correspondence from Mother, Father, Family Folder 11 1926-27, 1958, 1977

box 4, folder 1

Correspondence and Papers Folder 1 1937-77

box 4, folder 2

Daily Food Record-Jane Adams Folder 2 n.d.

box 4, folder 3

Correspondence Regarding Postcard Collection Folder 3 1959-82

box 4, folder 4

Political Button Collecting Correspondence Folder 4 ca. 1967

box 4, folder 5

Christmas Postcards from Everett Gee Jackson Folder 5

box 4, folder 6

WWII Letters from Elya Bresler, William Bruner, Some D. Ching, Orville Danforth Folder 6 1944-1945

box 4, folder 7

WWII Letters from Al Goeddel, Warren Golson Folder 7 1943-1944

box 4, folder 8

WWII Letters from John C. Hunter Folder 8 1943-1945

box 4, folder 9

WWII Letters from Harry E. Jones Folder 9 1943-1945

box 4, folder 10

WWII Letters from Robert Kelly, Bob Kulinyi Folder 10 1943-1946

box 4, folder 11

WWII Letters from Arthur Miller, Orville Nordberg Folder 11 1943-1944

box 4, folder 12

WWII Letters from Edward Reese, Jack Waller, Bob Wellington, Charles Witt Folder 12 1944-1945