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Inventory of the Peter J. Shields Collection
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Collection Details
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  • Biography
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Related Collections
  • Indexing Terms
  • Access
  • Acquisition Information
  • Processing Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Publication Rights

  • Creator: Shields, Peter J., 1862-1962
    Title: Peter J. Shields Collection,
    Date: 1896-1968.
    Extent: 4.2 linear feet
    Abstract: The Peter J. Shields Collection contains both personal papers and materials related to the creation of the University of California, Davis campus. The collection materials date from 1896 to 1968. Peter J. Shields presided as a Superior Court Judge in Sacramento County from 1900 to 1949. In 1905, Shields wrote the legislation that led to the establishment of the University Farm. He maintained his association with the campus until his death in 1962.
    Physical location: Researchers should contact Special Collections to request collections, as many are stored off site.
    Repository: University of California, Davis. General Library. Department of Special Collections.
    100 North West Quad
    Davis, California 95616-5292
    Collection number: D-169
    Language of Material: Collection materials in English


    Peter J. Shields was born on April 4, 1862 in Hangtown Crossing, a small farming town near Sacramento, California. At the age of fourteen, Shields attended the Christian Brothers College in Sacramento and at seventeen he began to study law in Amos P. Catlin's law office. After being admitted to the Bar in Los Angeles in 1884, Shields established a small law office in Sacramento. At age twenty-three, he quit his law practice to travel. After ten years, he returned to Sacramento and started working as a library assistant at the California State Library. Later Shields was promoted to become one of the Trustees of the State Library. From 1896 to 1898, he worked for the Secretary of the California Code Commission and as a secretary in Governor Budd's office. In 1899, Shields was the secretary of the State Agricultural Society. Shields and Hiram Johnson shared an informal law partnership circa 1900. In 1900, Shields was elected as Judge of the Superior Court of Sacramento. He married Carolee Wilsey on August 1, 1901. Shields sought the office of U.S. District Judge, in 1913, but did not get chosen for the office. Shields retired in 1949.
    Shields was one of the founding fathers of the University Farm (now the University of California, Davis campus). As the secretary of the State Agricultural Society, he realized the need for an agricultural college. He helped to write the State legislation bill for the creation of the university campus in 1901 and 1903; after many revisions were added to the bill, it finally passed in 1905. He continued to share in the responsibilities of the university by keeping in contact with the the presidents of the university and participating in events related to the university until his death. Shields interests in politics and agriculture continued throughout his life. His award-winning Jersey cattle were his pride and joy. He often came to the Davis campus to visit the Jersey cattle until the campus decided to make reductions in the cattle program. Shields also actively participated in community organizations and events. His memberships included the X Club, whose members met in each other's houses and presented papers on a variety of topics. He often referred to the X Club as the "Ex Club" in his papers. Shields died on September 28, 1962.
    Sources consulted:
    Calendar of Shields' correspondence, control file, Peter J. Shields Collection, D-169, Department of Special Collections, General Library, University of California, Davis.
    Shields, Peter J. Reminiscences: Tape recorded interviews for the Bancroft Library, December 30, 1953-July 1, 1954. Transcript. [Berkeley: Bancroft Library, 1954].
    Shields, Peter J. Birth of an Institution: the Agricultural College at Davis. [Sacramento, CA: 1954].
    Storer, Tracy Irwin, Tracy I. Storer and E. Louis Proebsting: Reminiscences of the Ex [i.e. X] Club.[University of California, Davis: Library, 1973].

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The inclusive dates for the Peter J. Shields Collection materials range from 1896 to 1968. The collection is divided into eight series: 1. "An Act Providing for the Purchase of a University Farm," 2. Correspondence, 3. Papers and Speeches, 4. Will of Peter J. Shields, 5. Boye Scholarship Trust, 6. Ephemera, 7. Photographs, and 8. Realia. This collection contains several folders relating to the founding of the University of California, Davis campus. The correspondence series includes three subseries: general correspondence, recommendations for Judge Shields, and a letter-press book. The letter-press book includes copies of Shields' outgoing letters on diverse subjects. From the general correspondence subseries, notable correspondents include politicians, lawyers, judges, and university officials, such as James Farley, Hamlin Garland, Hiram W. Johnson, John F. Neylan, Gordon Sproul, Earl Warren, Henry A. Wallace, and Benjamin I. Wheeler. The correspondence between Hiram Johnson and Shields consists of both personal and work related letters, written prior to or after Johnson was governor of California. Shields' speeches and papers relate to agriculture, education, Democratic Party ideals, and to his personal experience and optimistic philosophy of life.
    A small amount of correspondence relates to the cases that Shields managed as Superior Court Judge in Sacramento County. The certificates of election show the many times that Shields was elected to the position of Superior Court Judge in Sacramento County. Shields' wedding coat has been extracted from the collection and placed in the Design Collection at the Department of Environmental Design, University of California, Davis.
    Researchers may view a detailed calendar of Shields' correpondence in the Special Collections reading room.

    Related Collections

    Other materials related to the Peter J. Shields Collection may be found in the following collections at Special Collections:
    AR-095: Davis Campus History Collection
    D-022: Pierce Family Papers
    D-170: W. Turrentine Jackson Papers
    MC-187: Alyce Williams Jewett Collection
    Other materials relating to the Peter J. Shields Collection may also be found in the Eleanor McClatchy Collection at the Sacramento Archives and Museum Collection Center in Sacramento, California.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Shields, Peter J., 1862-1962--Archives.
    University of California (1868-1952). College of Agriculture--History.
    University of California, Davis--History.
    X Club (Sacramento, Calif.).
    California--Politics and government.
    Yolo County (Calif.)--History.


    Collection is open for research under regular Reading Room rules and copyright restrictions.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Thomas J. MacBride, Alyce Williams Jewett, and Margaret M. Deterding. On October 13, 1971, Thomas J. MacBride, executor of the Judge Shields' estate, donated the bulk of the materials in the collection. Additional materials were added to the collection through the donation of Margaret M. Deterding in August 1991, and Alyce Williams Jewett in September 1992.

    Processing Information

    Payne Vang, Special Collections intern, processed the collection and created its final finding aid, under the direction of the University Archivist, John Skarstad, and manuscript curator, Melissa Tyler. Vang and Tyler encoded the finding aid.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Peter J. Shields Collection, D-169, Department of Special Collections, General Library, University of California, Davis.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright is protected by the copyright law, chapter 17, of the U.S. Code. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Department of Special Collections, University of California, Library, Davis 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.