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Guide to the Frank Kester Papers, ca. 1912-1981
MS 3588  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Contents
  • Chronology of Newspaper Positions Held and Other Jobs
  • Added Entries

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Frank Kester Papers,
    Date (inclusive): ca. 1912-1981
    Collection number: MS 3588
    Creator: Kester, Frank, b. 1888
    Extent: 3 ft.
    Repository: California Historical Society, North Baker Library
    San Francisco, California 94105-4014
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to The North Baker Research Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Library Director. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The North Baker Research 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], Frank Kester Papers. MS 3588, California Historical Society, North Baker Research Library.


    Frank Kester covered the waterfront beat for the Oakland Tribune from 1921 to 1942. An archetypical reporter, Kester was characterized by an insatiable curiosity, a penchant for keeping journals, a passion for photography and a devotion to the reporting trade which has left us a wealth of biographical materials and historical images of almost half a century.
    Born in Cholame Valley, California in March 1888, Kester spent his youth in such small towns as Alvarado, Mendocino and Watsonville. He often made friends with Spanish and Indian children from whom he learned to speak Spanish and some smattering of Indian hunting and fishing techniques. These childhood experiences imbued him with a lifelong interest in mining towns, Indian lore, sea adventures and an abiding love for nature and wilderness.
    Before Kester reached his teens, his mother divorced his father, remarried and moved the family to Oakland. He had finished six years of schooling when his stepfather decided that he should withdraw from school in order to contribute to the family income. He entered into a series of jobs which included working as a glass blower and stockboy in department stores.
    After much frustration, he convinced his stepfather of his ability to work and attend school. He enrolled in Wilmerding High School and obtained a janitorial position. The young Kester engaged in school activities with enthusiasm and soon earned the position of assistant editor on the school paper.
    By the time he was eighteen, Kester was on the million dollar sports staff of the Morning Call and the San Francisco Examiner. After a short stint on the sports page, he was moved over to the waterfront beat. When news of the first World War surfaced, he was reassigned to the news department. In November 1917 Kester reported for naval duty. Overseas for one year, he took the opportunity to document through photographs and autobiographical sketches the personal and tragic side of war.
    At the war's end, he came back to San Francisco and the newspaper business. He joined the staff of the Oakland Tribune in 1921. Weaving mythology and fact, Kester spun tales of California history, from the gold country and the Yosemite mountains to the small towns and growing cities. The majority of his eighteen years at the Tribune were spent reporting on the San Francisco and Oakland waterfront and editing a full page daily on maritime activities. He witnessed the emergence of a militant union and strikes; the expansion of the land fill and harbor construction; and, the economic boom in the shipping trades following World War II.
    Kester was an inveterate joiner in his private life. Among his organizations were the Native Sons of the Golden West, the Masons and the Audobon Society. Appropriately, he met his wife on a Yosemite trail.

    Scope and Contents

    The Frank Kester Papers provide a detailed account of the life of a dedicated reporter and nature lover. Included are chapters of his autobiography, short stories and poetry. Kester's research notes and stories highlight the histories of small California towns, national parks and Bay Area waterfronts. The collection also contains original columns Along the Trail and Dog Watch, as well as unpublished manuscripts such as The Sea Takes its Toll and They Tramped the Mountains. Copies of his poetry, accounts of his personal trips and numerous photographs give further insight into Kester's own character. Thoroughly Californian, Kester dedicated his life and work to the appreciation of the natural beauty of his home state.

    Chronology of Newspaper Positions Held and Other Jobs

    1901 THE ELM, Oakland School Dept. paper
    1908-09 WILMERDING LIFE, Editor, W.S.I.A.
    1910 MORNING CALL, S.F. special articles
    1911-21 S.F. EXAMINER, cub reporter, marine editor, sports
    1917-21 Off to War
    1921-42 OAKLAND TRIBUNE, Marine Editor, Features, Column, Science
    1942 NEVADA STATE JOURNAL, Reno, Editor
    1945-46 WOODLAND DEMOCRAT, Telegrph editor
    1949 GILROY DISPATCH, Editor and Columnist
    1951-52 LINDSAY NEWS, Editor, columnist
    1953 REDDING SEARCHLIGHT, country editor
    1954 ANTIOCH LEDGER, reporter
    1955-56 WALNUT KERNEL, Managing Editor
    1955-56 DIABLO BEACOM, Concord, Managing Editor
    1956 OAKDALE LEADER, Editor
    1956 CAMARILLO NEWS, Managing Editor
    1956-63 RED BLUFF DAILY NEWS, Red Bluff, Mng. Ed. columnist

    Added Entries

    • California-Description and Travel
    • California--Gold Discoveries
    • Camarillo, California
    • Camarillo News
    • Camping--California
    • Clipper-Ships
    • European War, 1914-1918
    • Gold Mines and Mining--California
    • Hotels, Taverns, etc.--California
    • Indians of California
    • Indians of California--Missions
    • Log-Books
    • Missions--California
    • Missions-History
    • Newspapers--California
    • Newspapers--Oakland
    • Newspapers--San Francisco
    • Oakland, California
    • Oakland Tribune
    • Panamal Canal
    • Recreation--California
    • San Francisco, California
    • San Francisco-Commerce
    • San Francisco--Earthquake and Fire, 1906
    • San Francisco--Harbor
    • San Francisco--Waterfront
    • San Francisco Examiner
    • Shipping--San Francisco
    • Voyages and Travel
    • Wilmerding High School