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Register of the Spreckels Sugar Company Collection
MS 282  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Organizational History

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Spreckels Sugar Company Collection
    Collection number: MS 282
    Creator: Spreckels Sugar Company
    Repository: University of the Pacific. Library. Holt-Atherton Department of Special Collections
    Stockton, CA 95211
    Shelf location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the library's online catalog.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Spreckels Sugar Company Collection, MS 282, Holt-Atherton Department of Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library

    Organizational History

    The Spreckels Sugar Company was founded by capitalist, Claus Spreckels (1828-1908). Initially a San Francisco grocer, he became involved in California sugar production as early as 1863 and was one of the founders of the California sugar beet industry. Spreckels established his first sugar company, Western Beet Sugar, at Watsonville (1888). By that date Spreckels had also gained control over much of the cane sugar industry in Hawaii. He was active in the California transportation and power industries, as well.
    Claus Spreckels had four sons: John D., Adolph, Claus A. & Rudolph. The father and the two older brothers generally feuded with the two younger sons over control of the family businesses. Although Claus founded the Spreckels Sugar Company and built its first factory at Salinas (1898), Adolph Spreckels (1857-1924) guided the affairs of the Spreckels Sugar Company during most of the early years represented by this collection. He built Factory #2 at Manteca (1917). In 1907 Adolph Spreckels married Alma de Bretteville, whose nephew, Charles, subsequently became President of Spreckels Sugar. DeBretteville erected Factory #3 at Woodland in Yolo County (1936). After the family sold their company (1963) to the American Refining Company, the new entity became AMSTAR and Spreckels Sugar became a division of AMSTAR, but, ultimately the Spreckels Sugar Division managers arranged to buy out their division, thus resurrecting the Spreckels Sugar Company (1987). Imperial Holly Sugar purchased Spreckels Sugar in 1995.
    The California sugar beet industry has always been susceptible to natural and economic woes. Droughts caused declines in beet production and an increase in insect pests during the early 1920s that led to an eight year shutdown at Factory #2 (Manteca). Droughts were again a factor in declining profits throughout much of the 1980s and early 1990s. Factory #1 (Salinas) and Factory #5 (Chandler, Arizona) shut down (1981) as soft drink manufacturers switched from more expensive beet sugar to high fructose corn syrup. Factory #2 (Manteca) adjusted to market changes by producing greater quantities of powder sugar, but encroaching urbanization and the extended drought eventually forced this factory, too, to close its doors (1995).
    The Spreckels Sugar Company Collection contains papers and photographs relating to Spreckels' three northern California factories (see above) and its cane sugar mill at Pampanga, Del Carmen, Philippine Islands. Factory #2 (Manteca) is the main focus of the California portion of the collection, in part, because these materials were amassed by factory historian, Michael H. Marleau. Mr. Marleau gave this collection to Holt Atherton Special Collections in 1997.