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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Workman Family Biography
  • Collection Description
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Bibliography

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Workman family papers
    Date (inclusive): 1881-1997
    Collection number: CSLA-9
    Creator: Workman family
    Extent: 24 archival document boxes, 14 oversize boxes, 6 flat files in on emap case drawer
    Repository: Loyola Marymount University. William H. Hannon Library. Department of Archives and Special Collections
    Los Angeles, California 90045-8200
    Abstract: These holdings consist of materials related to the life and accomplishments of a leading Los Angeles family, the Workmans, influential in city politics, social work, and prperty development.
    Physical location: Research use requires both an advance notice of intent to use the collection and an appointment. To schedule an appointment, please contact the Department of Archives and Special Collection, William H. Hannon Library, Loyola Marymount University: 310-338-2780, 310-338-5357.
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection:English


    This collection is part of the Center for the Study of Los Angeles Research Collection, a program of the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles, Loyola Marymount University. The Research Collection is administered by the Department of Archives and Special Collections, Loyola Marymount University; the Workman Family Papers are open to research under the department's terms of use.

    Publication Rights

    Materials in the Department of Archives and Special Collections may be subject to copyright. Unless explicitly stated otherwise, Loyola Marymount University does not claim ownership of the copyright of any materials in its collections. The user or publisher must secure permission to publish from the copyright owner. Loyola Marymount University does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or of publication rights held by the original author or artists or his/her heirs, assigns, or executors.

    Preferred Citation

    [item], Series title, box and folder numbers, Workman Family Papers, CSLA-9, Department of Archives and Special Collections, William H. Hannon Library, Loyola Marymount University.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of David A. Workman, 1999, 2001

    Workman Family Biography

    Tracing its residence in Los Angeles back to the mid-nineteenth century, the Workman family holds a distinguished place in the city's history. Two brothers, David (1798-1855) and William (1800-1876), originally from England, were the first Workmans to settle in Los Angeles: David came from Missouri, and William from Taos, New Mexico. Of their descendants, the following Workmans figure most prominently in the collection: William H. Workman, the son of David, and his wife Maria Elizabeth; their daughter Mary Julia Workman; her sister-in-law, Margaret Workman, wife of Mary's brother Thomas.
    William H. and Maria E. Workman
    William H. Workman (1839-1918) would make his great mark in Los Angeles politics and the development of the city infrastructure. The most important civic office that William Workman held was mayor of Los Angeles, from 1887 to 1888, during which time he investigated civic corruption in Los Angeles, had Fort (Broadway), Spring, Hill, and Main streets paved, and supported the establishment of the city library. Workman had served on the city council for much of the 1870s (1872-1874;1875-1880). As a council member, he fought for, and won, a restriction of fifty years on the management by the privtely-owned Los Angeles Water Company of the water rights of the Los Angeles River. In 1875, William Workman paid the Los Angeles Water Company to extend its services to Boyle Heights, thus ensuring a domestic water supply there. He also persuaded fellow council members to permit the building of a conduit bringing the water of the Elysian Hills to Boyle Heights for irrigation. These improvements permitted William Workman's opening of Boyle Heights to real estate sales, which led to the development of this important and historic segment of Los Angeles east of the Los Angeles River.
    William Workman was also instrumental in the building of street car lines in Los Angeles, some of which would reach Boyle Heights. He led the fight to bring the Southern Pacific Railroad, against considerable local opposition, to Los Angeles, a link to the outside world that would help make the land booms of the 1880s possible. As City Treasurer (1901-1907), he oversaw a general election for the building of the Silver Lake Reservoir. During his term on the Park Commission, he donated two-thirds of the land for Hollenbeck Park, a Los Angeles landmark. He also helped found the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.
    He and Maria Elizabeth Boyle (1847-1933) married in 1867, joining two distinguished Los Angeles families. Maria's family had settled in Boyle Heights before William Workman's acquisitions there. A devout Roman Catholic, she received her education from the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul and strongly supported the Orphans' Fairs, an important charitable work, and was also active in the Catholic Women's Club and the Women's Athletic Club.
    Mary Julia Workman
    William and Maria had seven children; of these Mary Julia Workman, born in 1871, was especially notable. Although her father William was Protestant, Mary Workman was reared in the Roman Catholic faith of her mother, receivine a Catholic education at the Convent of the Sacred Heart of Mary and Jesus, in Oakland, from which she graduated in 1890. In 1902 she completed studies in kindergarten teaching, at the State Normal School in Los Angeles; Workman would teach in the city's public schools until 1923.
    During these years, because of her studies, Mary Workman became deeply influenced by the ideals of American Progressivism. The fruit of this influence was manifested in her leadership in the establishment of the Brownson House (1901), a landmark of the settlement house philosophy on the West Coast and one of its stronger Roman Catholic expressions.
    Active in Los Angeles civic affairs, she was a progressive advocating civil service, which led to her presidency of the Los Angeles City Civil Service Commission (1927-1928). Mary Workman also participated in other civic reform groups, such as the Municipal Light and Power Defense League, which watched over city services, and helped in the recall of corrupt Los Angeles mayor Frank Shaw, campaigning for reform candidates John Anson Ford and Fletcher Bowron through such means as radio speeches. Her work with the Democratic National Committee, Southern California Division, involved her in Democratic politics in the Los Angeles area.
    Part of the post-World War I movement for world peace, Workman vigorously labored for the participation of the United States in the League of Nations. To this end, she founded, and was an officer in, the Southern California chapter of the League of Nations Association. Of a similar nature was her participation in the Catholic Association for International Peace (CAIP), Southern California Committee, of which she was secretary. The CAIP was intended to apply Christian ideals to the troubled world politics of the post-war era; this application of Christian principles to resolve international confilict clearly expresses Mary Workman's philosophy of social activism.
    Underlying all her life's work was Mary Workman's Roman Catholic faith, a connection vividly demonstrated in Pope Pius XI's grant of the papal medal Pro Ecclesia et Pontificeto Mary Workman in 1926. The medal rewarded Roman Catholics for their humanitarian work and, in Mary Workman's case, especially recognized her contribution to the field of social work, but within the Roman Catholic tradition. This was a signal honor for Workman, for she was the first woman in the diocese of Los Angeles to receive this medal. Mary Workman died in 1964, following complications from a broken hip.
    Margaret Workman
    Like her sister-in-law Mary Julia Workman, Margaret Kilgariff Workman (1902-1987) achieved similar, notable accomplishments in social and philanthropic causes, often working together on issues. Margaret was born into a well-known California family, the Kilgariffs: her mother, Regina, was a suffragette and one of the first women on the Democratic State Central Committee. In 1925, Margaret, after graduating from college, married Thomas Edgar Workman (1890-1972), son of William H. and Maria E. Workman. The couple would make their home in Los Angeles, where Margaret would compile an outstanding record of service in social welfare, politics, and education. Her membership on the board of the California Relief Commission (1935-1937) saw the implementation of the New Deal in California. Margaret was a member of the famous Citizens' Committeeheaded by Clifford Clinton that was the key in toppling Frank Shaw, the corrupt mayor of Los Angeles. A leader in the state-wide Democratic Party, she served as co-chair of the Culbert Olson campaign for governor in 1938, which led to the election of the first Democratic governor in California in the twentieth century. Margaret Workman was delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1940 and played a role on the Democratic Women's Advisory Platform Committee. That Los Angeles news publisher Manchester Boddy would solicit her support in his senatorial primary campaign against Helen Gahagan Douglas in 1950 also testifies to her importance in state Democratic circles.
    In World War II, she served as secretary of the Los Angeles branch of the National Committee Against Nazi Persecution and Extermination of the Jews. She also was a member of William Allen White's Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies, a group active before the United States's entrance into World War II that strongly advocated logistical support for Great Britain in its war with Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. Her support for liberal causes was manifested in her membership in the National Conference of Jews and Christians, and she actively opposed the anti-labor Proposition 1, which was on the California ballot in 1938. Her service to both secular and Roman Catholic philanthropy in Los Angeles was tireless: the latter included work with the Social Service Auxiliary, and the former involved such organizations as the Hollywood Studio Club of the Young Women's Christian Association. This list of activities, impressive in its own right, is still incomplete, which suggests that Margaret Workman's record of service to her community and nation knew few peers in Los Angeles.

    Collection Description

    The Workman Family Papers consist of correspondence, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, scrolls, diplomas, administrative/organizational papers, publications, certificates, tract maps, reports, brochures and pamphlets, legal documents, and photographs. These holdings chiefly concern the life and work of five prominent members of the Workman family: William H. Workman (1839-1918); his wife Maria E. (1847-1933); their daughter Mary Julia Workman (1871-1964); her sister-in-law, Margaret K. Workman (1902-1987), prominent Democrat and social work leader, and wife of Mary's brother Thomas; and Judge David A. Workman, son of Margaret and Thomas Workman. The materials span the years from 1881 to 1997, with the majority from the period 1910-1950. In Box 13ov, Folder 1, is a copy of a document, dated 1843, confirming property rights, but it may be spurious, resulting in the omission of this date from the comprehensive collection dates. Most materials are in good condition; those that are not are so indicated in the box and folder list and should be handled with extreme care.
    Persons of note whose activities are documented in this collection include Eleanor Roosevelt, Culbert Olson, Bishop John Cantwell, Fletcher Bowron, Ellen S. Woodward, Jerry Voorhis, and Melvyn and Helen Gahagan Douglas.


    The Workman Family Papers have been divided into series based on the family members and materials predominant in the collection: Series 1: Mary Julia Workman; Series 2: Margaret K. Workman; Series 3: William H. and Maria E. Workman; Series 4: David A. Workman Judicial Campaigns; Series 5: Publications. Each series has the subseries "photographs" to account for the photographs corresponding to the respective family member. Series 5: Publications was established for the large number of loose publications in the holdings.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    Workman, Margaret K., 1902-1987
    Workman, Mary Julia, 1871-1964
    Workman, William H., 1839-1918
    Workman family--Political activity--History--19th century--Sources
    Workman family--Political activity--History--20th century--Sources
    Women civic leaders--California--Los Angeles--History--20th century--Sources
    Civic leaders--California--History--20th century--Sources
    California--Politics and government--1850-1950--Sources


    For background information on the Workman family, consult the following works:
    Engh, Michael. "Mary Julia Workman, the Catholic Conscience of Los Angeles. California History(1993): 2-19.
    Engh, Michael. Workman, Mary Julia (1871-1964). Encyclopedia of American Catholic History. Collegeville, Minnesota, 1997. Pp. 1517-1518.
    Newmark, Marco. The Workman Family in Los Angeles. Historical Society of Southern California Quarterly32 (1950): 316-325.
    Rowland, Donald E. John Rowland and William Workman: Southern California Pioneers of 1841 . Spokane: Arthur H. Clark Co.; Los Angeles: Historical Society of Southern California, 1999.