Guide to the Lorenzo Gordin Yates Papers, 1852-1906

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Berkeley, California, 94720-6000
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Biological and Medical Sciences --Biological Sciences Geographical (By Place) --California

Guide to the Lorenzo Gordin Yates Papers, 1852-1906

Collection number: BANC MSS C-B 472

The Bancroft Library

University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley, California

Contact Information:

Processed by:
The Bancroft Library staff
Date Completed:
ca. 1964
Encoded by:
Charlotte Gerstein
© 1997 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Collection Summary

Collection Title: Lorenzo Gordin Yates Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1852-1906
Collection Number: BANC MSS C-B 472
Creator: Yates, Lorenzo Gordin, 1837-1909
Extent: Number of containers: 3 boxes, 1 carton, 1 oversize volume, 1 oversize folder Linear feet: 2.5
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 written to him and by him; diary, 1871 and 1882; subject files with manuscripts of his writings, related notes and other material; catalogues of his shell and fossil collections; scrapbook of clippings and unmounted clippings of his articles. Relate primarily to his study of conchology, paleontology, mineralogy, flora, fauna, and other aspects of natural history and to his interest in the islands off the costs of Santa Barbara, California.
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], Lorenzo Gordin Yates papers, BANC MSS C-B 472, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

Material Cataloged Separately

Photographs and drawings have been transferred to the Pictorial Collections.

Scope and Content

Yates' papers were given to The Bancroft Library in 1952 and 1954 by Elizabeth Mason and Charles L. Camp with additions in 1964 from M. C. Richter. They consist of incoming and outgoing letters; a diary, 1871 and 1872; subject files containing manuscripts of his writings and related notes; catalogues of his shell and fossil collections; and clippings, relating to his many scientific interests. Photographs and drawings have been removed to the Library's Pictorial Collections for separate indexing. The Key to Arrangement which follows describes the collection in greater detail.


Lorenzo Gordin Yates was born in England in 1837 and came to the United States when he was fourteen years old. He studied medicine and dentistry in the east and moved to Centerville, California, about 1864 where he continued his career as a dentist. He moved to Santa Barbara in 1882 and died there in 1909.
Interest from early childhood in collecting shells and fossils resulted in a lifelong study of numerous aspects of natural history. He became an expert on conchology, minerology, paleontology, North American Indians, flora, fauna, etc., and wrote and lectured extensively about these and related subjects, including the islands off the coast of Santa Barbara. In addition, he compiled valuable collections of ferns, shells, fossils, minerals, prehistoric relics, Indian artifacts, etc.
Yates was president of the Santa Barbara Society of Natural History, secretary of the Board of Horticultural Commissioners of Santa Barbara County, and president of the Santa Barbara Chapter of the Agassiz Association. He was a fellow of the Linnaean Society of London, an associate member of the Victoria Institute of London, and an honorary member of many other scientific organizations.

Key to Arrangement

Box 1, folder 1-2

Notes by C. L. Camp re provenance of collection; biographical information on Yates

folder 3-4

Notes & plans for a museum [Santa Barbara?]; The Origin & Development of Museums (draft of article by Yates)

folder 5-41

Letters written to Yates.

Scope and Content Note

Arranged alphabetically. A list of important correspondents follows the Key to Arrangement.
folder 42-47a

Letters written by Yates, 1889-1902 & n.d.

Scope and Content Note

Mainly drafts re his collections & publications

See also Folder 55
folder 48

Letters relating to publication of "All Known Ferns."

Scope and Content Note

5 letters, 1889-1891. Letter, Jan. 22, 1889, written by J. H. Barry.
folder 49

Diary, 1871 & 1882. Account of journey from Centerville, Calif. to vicinity of San Benito, Calif. & return, collecting fossils, 1871. Account of journey from Santa Barbara, Calif. to Lompoc, Calif. & return, 1882

folder 50

MS of article by Yates: Knights, Templars & Masonry. Holograph

See subject files (Boxes 2-3) for MSS of other articles by Yates

folder 51

Miscellaneous Notes.

Scope and Content Note

Lists & receipts for shells & fossils shipped to & by Yates, Notes on building a conservatory, etc.
folder 52-54

MSS of writings (not by Yates)


Costa Rican Earthquakes, by Juan F. Ferraz


San Miguel Island, Calif. by C. D. Voy


Santa Rosa Island, Calif. by C. D. Voy

folder 55

Letters written by Yates, 1874-1876

Scope and Content Note

Written in book of poll lists for Washington (Alameda Co., Calif.) Election District, 1869. Bound volume.
folder 56


Scope and Content Note

Written in book of poll lists for Centerville Precinct, Alameda Co., Calif. Bound volume.
folder 57

"Etymological Lexicon"

Scope and Content Note

Notes on alphabets & vocabularies of many languages, compiled by Yates. First few pages contain financial accounts for his dental practice. Bound volume.
Box 2

Subject Files

Scope and Content Note

Primarily holograph and typescript manuscripts of articles written by Yates, with related drafts, notes and lithograph plates. Arranged as follows:
folder 75-76

Aboriginal art - California

folder 77-82


Scope and Content Note

Aboriginal cooking, Indians. Mainly in California
folder 83-88


Scope and Content Note

Re coins, charm stones, aboriginal shell money, etc. -mainly in California
folder 89-91


Scope and Content Note

Legends of California Indians
folder 92


Box 3, folder 93-101

Island Studies

Scope and Content Note

Islands off the coast of Southern California
folder 102-115


Scope and Content Note

Trees, shrubs, & plants including the bottle tree, ferns, orchids, manzanita, & yucca -mainly in California
folder 116

Natural history

folder 117


Scope and Content Note

Re lithographic limestone in California
folder 118-119


Scope and Content Note

Helix in Southern California, land shells of Jamaica
folder 120-121


carton Carton, folder 122-123

Catalogues of Yates' collections

Scope and Content Note

Shells, minerals, fossils, etc.
folder 123a

Tear sheets of articles by Yates

folder 124-138

Newspaper clippings

Scope and Content Note

Some are articles by or about Yates. Re Indians, flora, fauna, minerals, etc. Unarranged.
oversize Oversize Scrapbook

Clippings of articles by or about Yates. Re shells, Indians, flora, fauna, etc.

oversize Oversize folder

Diploma, D.D.S., Wisconsin Dental College, May 25, 1881


Diploma, Santa Barbara County Agricultural Association, [for display of minerals], 9 Oct. 1886


Certificate of corresponding membership, San Francisco Microscopical Society, 5 April 1872

List of Correspondents


Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia


2 letters, 1886-1890. Letter, 1886, written by G. W. Tryon.


Barry, James Henry (1856-1927)

See Letters relating to publication of “All Known Ferns" (Folder 48)


Baum, Henry Mason, 1848-


4 letters, 1901-1903. Written while Editor, Records of the Past. Mainly re Yates' manuscripts which were published in the magazine.


Branner, John Casper, 1850-1922


Letter, Oct. 3, 1892. Re placing Yates' geological collection on deposit at Stanford University.


Britton, L. H.


2 letters, 1903. Transmitting photographs of two Chilcat blankets.


Britton, Nathaniel Lord, 1859-1934


2 letters, 1890 & n.d. Form letter, n.d., written while Director-in-Chief, New York Botanical Garden.


Brown, Edwin


2 letters, 1852-1853


Browne, G. L.


2 letters, 1893. Written while Assistant Editor, The Californian. Re articles Yates wrote for the magazine.


Bryan, William V.


Letter, Mar. 26, 1900. Written while Proprietor, The Traveler (magazine).


California Historical Society


3 letters, 1887-1888. Written by William Carey Jones. Re Yates' paper, "Prehistoric California," which was read at a meeting.


California. State Mining Bureau


9 letters, 1889-1893. Written mainly by William Irelan. Letter, Aug. 16, 1890, transmits copy of Yates' letter to him. Most letters concern his articles which were published by the Bureau.


Campbell, John H.


Letter, Mar. 9, 1891


Cattell, James McKeen, 1860-


Letter, June 5, 1902.


Clarke, William H.


Postcard, Oct. 3, 1882. Asking to be informed if he makes additional discoveries of fossil elephant teeth.


Comstock, Theodore Bryant, 1849-1915


5 letters, 1905. Re publication of Yates' article on pre-historic California in the Bulletin of The Southern California Academy of Sciences.


Cooper, James Graham, 1830-1902


Letter, Oct. 25, 1874


Coquillett, Daniel William, 1856-1911


Letter, May 5, 1893. Identifying sample of grape vine scales which Yates sent him.


Davidson, Anstruther, 1860-1932


4 letters, 1902-1905. Re Yates' articles on prehistoric California which were published by the Southern California Academy of Sciences.


Depue, J. E.


4 letters, 1900-1901. Letter, 1900, thanks Yates for sending a copy of his article on charm stones. Several letters transmit drawings of plummets.


Fairchild, Herman LeRoy, 1850-1943


2 letters, 1894. Written while Secretary, Geological Society of America.


Flint, Earl


Letter, Jan. 4, 1892. Mainly re shells.


Geological Society of America

See Fairchild, Herman LeRoy


Hyatt, Alpheus, 1838-1902


Postcard, Feb. 23, 1892. Requesting a copy of his paper on Pinna.


Irelan, William, Jr., 1842-

See California. State Mining Bureau


Jones, William Carey, 1854-1923

See California Historical Society


Keep, Josiah, 1849-1911


Letter, Aug. 12, 1899. Written while Professor of Natural Science, Mills College. Replying to his letter, Aug. 3, 1899, to Mrs. Mills re selling his collection to Mills College.


Layard, Edgar Leopold, 1824-1900


Letter, Nov. 29, 1890. Re their mutual interest in shells. Transmits letter from his son, re exchanging postage stamps with Yates.


Lewis, James


3 letters, 1876-1878. Mainly re his identification of shells.


Maiden, Joseph Henry, 1859-1925


Letter, Jan. 19, 1891. Re Yates' attempt to obtain pine tree seeds.


Moorehead, Warren King, 1866-1939


Letter, Feb. 5, 1900. Written for him by M.C. Hale.


Newcombe, Charles Frederic, 1851-


Letter, Nov. 6, 1893. Written while Honorary Secretary, Natural History Society of British Columbia.


Parish, Samuel Bonsall, 1838-1928


Postcard, Jan. 10, 1891. With this: reprints of several of his articles on plants.


Peet, Stephen Denison, 1830-1914


Letter, Feb. 26, 1898. Written while Editor, American Antiquarian.


Pike, Walter N.


Letter, Sept. 30, 1891. Asking for articles to publish in The Mayflower [magazine?].


Putnam, Frederic Ward, 1839-1915


Letter, Jan. 16, 1893. Written while Curator, Peabody Museum, & Chief, Department of Ethnology & Archaeology, World's Columbia Exposition. Re publishing Yates' paper on California Weapons & exhibiting his collection at the Exposition.


Rust, Horatio Nelson, 1828-1906


Letter, Dec. 10, 1874. Re sending specimens of minerals & shells toYates.


Santa Barbara Natural History Society


Postcard, n.d. Notifying Yates of his appointment as a member of the Society's section on conchology, archaeology, paleontology & minerology.


Santa Cruz Island Company


Letter, July 31, 1889. Denying Yates permission to visit Santa Cruz Island.


Smith, James Perrin, 1864-1931


Letter, Dec. 12, 1902. Re sending Yates copies of his publications.


Smithsonian Institution


Letter, Apr. 22, 1899


Stearns, Robert Edwards Carter, 1827-1909

See U.S. Geological Survey


Studer, Jacob Henry, 1840-1904


Letter, Mar. 3, 1893. Written while President, Natural Science Association of America.


Taylor, William Alton, 1863-


Letter, June 30, 1902. Written while Pomologist, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. Re a mango tree he sent Yates & requesting samples of avocados grown by Yates.


Tryon, George Washington, 1838-1888

See Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia


U.S. Geological Survey


3 letters, 1890-1906. 2 letters written by R. E. C. Stearns.


Wesley (William) & Son


Letter, Oct 30, 1888. Re various catalogs of works on ferns, fossils & minerals.