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Guide to the Adrien Joseph Falk Papers, [ca. 1973-1971]
BANC MSS 72/39 c  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Adrien Joseph Falk Papers,
    Date (inclusive): [ca. 1973-1971]
    Collection Number: BANC MSS 72/39 c
    Creator: Falk, Adrien Joseph, 1884-1971
    Extent: Number of containers: 10 boxes, 1 carton, 2 v. 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: Materials relating primarily to Falk's civic activities. Includes letters written to him, many of them from prominent men in San Francisco and in the State; copies of some letters written by him; biographical sketches; personalia; awards and citations; photographs; clippings; speeches; and subject files, including material on Bay Area Rapid Transit District.
    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], Adrien Joseph Falk papers, BANC MSS 72/39 c, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information

    The Adrien J. Falk papers were given to The Bancroft Library in August 1971 by his widow, Mrs. Belle Falk. The collection is not an extensive one since Mr. Falk obviously did not systematically save his papers. What was saved reflects what he regarded as the highlights of his career and the activities of which he was justifiably proud. The papers, housed in ten boxes, one carton, two volumes and one oversize portfolio, consist of letters written to him, many of them from prominent men in the city and state; copies of some letters written by him; biographical sketches; personalia; awards and citations; photographs; clippings; speeches; and subject files relating to various causes and to organizations with which he was associated, particularly BART. In general the papers relate to his civic activities rather than to his business career. They are described in greater detail in the Key to Arrangement.


    Adrien J. Falk was born December 9, 1884 in San Francisco. After attending John Swett Grammar School and completing one year at Lowell High School, he left school to take a job as errand boy for a liquor wholesaler. In 1905 he found employment with the wholesale grocery firm of Sussman, Wormser and Company, as S & W was then known, as a billing clerk. He became, in turn, assistant bookkeeper, cashier, credit manager, officer manager, secretary, sales manager, general manager, director, vice-president (in 1930) and president (in 1946). During this period he saw the transition of S & W from a small wholesale grocery business to a leading packer and distributor of canned foods. Retiring from the presidency in 1956, he continued to serve the Company as a consultant.
    Mr. Falk continued his interrupted education with classes at the University of California Extension Division, specializing in accounting, business law and office management, and public speaking. He received an honorary doctorate of laws from the University of San Francisco in 1953, and served as a Regents Professor of Agricultural Economics at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1958.
    Strongly imbued with a sense of civic responsibility, he had an active career in public service also. Even a partial list of activities in this field testifies to his efforts: president of the San Francisco and the California State Chambers of Commerce; president and member of the San Francisco Board of Education; president of the San Francisco Community Chest; president of the San Francisco Board of Trade; chairman of the Conference for the Problems of the Aging (1951); member of the Board of Governors, Bay Area Council; member of the Advisory Council on Social Security for the U. S. Senate Finance Committee; and president of the Mount Zion Hospital. His long and distinguished career was climaxed by his service as director and president of the Bay Area Rapid Transit District, a public service he embarked upon in 1957 at the age of 73.
    He received many honors, among them a distinguished service award from the Bay Area Council; the Robert C. Kirkwood Award for significant contribution to the community life of Northern California; and the Urban Transportation Award, presented by the Second International Conference on Urban Transportation. For his many contributions to community welfare, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors proclaimed January 17, 1970, "Adrien J. Falk Day."
    Mr. Falk died in San Francisco, April 14, 1971.