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Guide to the Leonard McKay Research Papers, 1793-1991
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Indexing Terms
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement of the Leonard McKay Research Papers

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Leonard McKay Research Papers
    Date (inclusive): 1793-1991
    Date (bulk): 1850-1991
    Collection Number: ECS03.02
    Collector: McKay, Leonard Mortimore, 1921-2006
    Extent: Containers: 12 boxes and 4 filing cabinet drawers

    Volume: 11.5 cubic feet
    Physical Location: Series I is housed in vault 1 in the Sourisseau Academy file cabinets ECS 8.1 to 8.4. Series II is located in vault 2 for cold storage, in the Gordon panoramic negatives cabinet 3. Series III is housed in vault 1 in the Sourisseau Academy shelf range 34, shelves 34C.3 to 34C.6.
    Repository: Sourisseau Academy for State and Local History, San José State University
    San José, California 95192
    Abstract: The Leonard McKay Research Papers consist of photographs and papers that document the history of the Santa Clara Valley region. These materials were gathered by the late printer and historian Leonard McKay during his personal research into the history of the region. The papers include approximately 2100 original and reproduced slides and negatives depicting agrarian and urban life, technology, and local events. The papers also include Spanish, Mexican, and American civil records, locally created scrapbooks, and a large assortment of topical research files. Collectively, these pictorial and textual resources form a significant body of research material spanning the late 18th- to 20th- centuries, documenting economic, cultural, and social development within San José and the Santa Clara Valley region.
    Language: English

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to the Sourisseau Academy. Neither the original photographs nor the digital images held by the Sourisseau Academy may be reproduced, published, or used on the Internet without the expressed, written permission of the Executive Secretary. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Sourisseau Academy as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher. The credit line, "Courtesy of the Edith C. Smith Trust Collection, Sourisseau Academy for State and Local History" must accompany any such use.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Leonard McKay Research Papers, [Box number]: [Folder number], Sourisseau Academy for State and Local History, San José State University, San José, California

    Acquisition Information

    The Leonard McKay Papers were donated to the Sourisseau Academy by the Edith Corinne Smith Trust in 2007.

    Biographical Note

    Leonard McKay, Jr. was born to Leonard Mortimore McKay, Sr. and Eugenia Adelina Nenn on October 21, 1921 in San José, California. He was born to a family with pioneering roots in the Santa Clara Valley and a tradition deeply entwined with the printing press. After managing the family printing business for 37 years, Eliza “Bessie” Smith sold the business to her grandson Leonard McKay Jr. in 1956. McKay and Bessie also agreed to revert to the original company name, the Smith and McKay Printing Company (1). McKay ran the Smith and McKay Printing Company until 1983, when he sold ownership to his son David. In 1986, he opened Memorabilia of San José and operated the business until his retirement in 2003. Beginning in the 1960s, he started to exclusively collect art created by Santa Clara Valley artists such as A.D.M. Cooper, Andrew Putnam Hill, and Louis O. Lussier. To this day, the ensemble of art collected by McKay remains a distinctive record of social and cultural memory in the Santa Clara Valley. From 1994 to 1995, McKay served his community and fellow Rotary members as president of the San José Rotary Club. Following his passion for local history, McKay was active in the Santa Clara County Pioneers, History San José, and served several terms on the board of the Sourisseau Academy for State and Local History. On October 17, 2006, McKay passed away in Santa Clara, California. (1) The Trailblazer (Quarterly Bulletin of the California Pioneers of Santa Clara County) , Volume 39, Number 3, September, 1998

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms may be used to index this collection.

    Personal Names

    McKay, Leonard Mortimore, 1921-2006
    Calloway, Hank, 1911-1995
    Campbell, Lawrence A., b. 1907
    Crummey, John D., 1878-1976
    Loomis, Patricia, 1920-2010
    Renzel, Ernie, 1907-2007
    Sabatino, Murphy, d. 2010


    Agricultural machinery

    Geographic Names

    San José (Calif.)
    Santa Clara (Calif.)
    Santa Clara County (Calif.)
    Santa Clara Valley (Santa Clara County, Calif.)

    Scope and Content

    The Leonard McKay Research Papers consists primarily of reproduced and original photographs, public records, scrapbooks, and thematically arranged research files. Aside from the broad topics of agriculture, community members, and architecture, these materials document many aspects of life in San José and the Santa Clara Valley, the bulk of which dates from the mid-nineteenth to the late twentieth century. It is important to note the majority of the photographs in this collection are reproductions. Many of the photographs were in a state of degradation, were rare prints, or privately held when McKay copied them. Thanks in large part to his efforts, these photographs remain available to the public. The research files compiled by McKay include newspaper clippings, brochures, magazine articles, and privately and publically produced research reports. The scrapbooks assembled by McKay and others include a large assortment of news clippings from the San José Mercury and other regional newspapers. Several of these scrapbooks cover a wide variety of themes or issues, while others focus on a particular institution, such as the San José Rotary Club. Some of these scrapbooks are also creations of important figures in regional history, like politician and former San José mayor Ernie Renzel, or former president of the Food Machinery Corporation, John Crummey. Also included are abridged translations of Spanish and Mexican legal records from the pueblo era of San José and meeting minutes for the Common Council of the City of San José, edited to include only council items relating to the city fire department. As an eyewitness to the natural and inevitable evolution of his community and region, McKay gathered and produced these historical resources to document the people, places, buildings, and events he thought significant to the cultural and historical development of San José and the Santa Clara Valley region.

    Arrangement of the Leonard McKay Research Papers

    The research materials are arranged into three series:
    • Series I: Research Files, circa 1850-1991
    • Series II: Negatives and Slides, circa 1850-1991
    • Series III: Scrapbooks and Records, 1793-1852, 1860-1983