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Guide to the William Edward Colby Papers, 1892-1964
BANC MSS C-B 980  
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Collection Details
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  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Sketch
  • Scope and Content

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: William Edward Colby Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1892-1964
    Collection Number: BANC MSS C-B 980
    Creator: Colby, Wm. E. (William Edward), 1875-1964
    Extent: Number of containers: 2 boxes, 3 cartons, and 1 oversize folder
    Repository: The Bancroft Library
    Berkeley, California 94720-6000
    Physical Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
    Abstract: Letters; manuscripts of his writings; notes; reprints and copies of articles; diaries; newspaper clippings, and photographs, relating to the Sierra Club; John Muir; conservation (including material on the recession of Yosemite and the Hetch Hetchy controversy); mining law; his Chinese art collection; and genealogy.

    Included also: letters (typed transcripts) written by John Muir, mainly to his daughter Helen.
    Languages Represented: English

    Information for Researchers


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to The Bancroft Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library 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 reader.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], William Edward Colby Papers, BANC MSS C-B 980, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information

    The collection of papers was given to the Bancroft Library by Mr. Colby in 1954 and 1959, with additions in 1965 from Mrs. Colby.

    Biographical Sketch

    William Edward Colby was born in Benicia, California, in 1875. His mother, Caroline Amelia (Smith) Colby, had been a teacher in the Young Ladies Seminary, and his father, Gilbert Winslow Colby, was a `49er, merchant, state assemblyman and state senator. After attending public schools in Benicia and Berkeley, Colby was graduated from the Hastings College of Law in 1898. He began his practice in San Francisco and soon specialized in mining law. From 1911 to 1937 he taught mining and water law at the University of California. He wrote numerous articles on the subject, compiling a valuable library as well.

    Scope and Content

    Colby's life-long connection with conservation resulted primarily from his first trip into the Sierra in 1894. In 1900 he was elected secretary of the Sierra Club. This brought him into close personal contact with John Muir, the club's founder and president. In 1901 they founded the annual high trip into the Sierra, which Colby led, after Muir's death in 1914. In his long association with the Club, which lasted until his death in 1964, Colby served as secretary, as president, and, from 1950, as honorary president.
    His continued interest in conservation was evidenced by his membership on the State Park Commission, of which he was chairman from 1927 to 1936, the Save-the-Redwoods League, and the Yosemite Advisory Board.
    Portraits have been removed and cataloged separately (Colby, 13671-13689; Muir, 13697-13733).
    A key to arrangement follows.