Guide to the Parsons family papers, [ca. 1880-1953]

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The Bancroft Library.
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, California, 94720-6000
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© 1997
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This finding aid has been filmed for the National Inventory of Documentary Sources in the United States (Chadwyck-Healey Inc.)


History --History, California Geographical (By Place) --California Arts and Humanities --Literature --American Literature

Guide to the Parsons Family Papers, [ca. 1880-1953]

Collection number: BANC MSS C-B 478

The Bancroft Library

University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley, California

Contact Information:

Processed by:
The Bancroft Library staff
Date Completed:
ca. 1961-1966
Encoded by:
James Lake
© 1997 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Collection Summary

Collection Title: Parsons Family Papers,
Date (inclusive): [ca. 1880-1953]
Collection Number: BANC MSS C-B 478
Creator: Parsons family
Extent: Number of containers: 9 boxes, 5 cartons, 1 vol. 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.
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], Parsons family papers, BANC MSS C-B 478, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

Material Cataloged Separately

  • 1 album of photographs has been transferred to the Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft Library.

Biographical Sketch

Marion Randall Parsons--writer, mountaineer, and artist--was born in San Francisco in 1878 and made her home in Piedmont and Berkeley until her death in 1953. She was privately educated and became interested in writing. An active Sierra Club member, she wrote many articles on her mountaineering experiences which were published in Sunset, Out West and The Sierra Club Bulletin. She also wrote short stories and novels, and worked with John Muir on his Travels in Alaska, preparing it for publication after his death.
In 1907 she married Edward Taylor Parsons. He was born in 1861, received a degree from the University of Rochester in 1886, and became one of the first salesmen for the Sherwin-Williams Company. He travelled throughout the west and settled in San Francisco about 1900. Parsons was an active mountaineer and conservationist, also, and wrote about his experiences, illustrating many of his articles with his photographs. At the time of his death in 1914 he was on the Board of Directors of the Sierra Club. His wife was elected to take his place and served until 1936.
Although interested in sketching from 1930, Mrs. Parsons did not begin to work at it seriously until 1936 when illness forced her to curtail activities. She worked in oils and watercolors and was essentially self-taught. From 1941 to 1952 she exhibited in Santa Cruz, Oakland, San Francisco and Berkeley. Old California Houses, which was published in 1952, is illustrated with photographs of her oil paintings.

Scope and Content

This collection of papers was given to the Bancroft Library by Mrs. Parsons in 1952, with additional gifts from her estate, 1953-1961. They reflect her main interests--mountaineering, writing and painting--and include letters, unpublished manuscripts, and photographs. They include also papers of her husband. Portraits were removed and cataloged separately, with call numbers Portrait 6026-6034.
A Key to Arrangement follows.

Box 1

Letters written by Marion (Randall) Parsons, ca. 1908-ca. 1938

Additional Note

Mainly undated carbon copies. Written from Europe during World War I, when she served with the civilian relief branch of the American Red Cross, and later. Included are letters to William E. Colby, Benjamin H. Lehman, her family, friends, and members of the Sierra Club. Arranged alphabetically according to person or persons addressed.
Box 2

Letters written to Marion (Randall) Parsons

Additional Note

Mainly concerning the death of her husband; Sierra Club Activities; and her writing. Some letters are addressed to Nancy G. Randall, William E. Colby and Benjamin H. Lehman. Arranged alphabetically, preceded by a single letter miscellany. A partial list of correspondents follows the key to arrangement.
Boxes 3-7

Letters written by Edward Taylor Parsons, 1881-1914

Additional Note

Mainly originals written to his parents and sister, concerning family activities, business and finance. Some relate to his travels as a salesman for the Sherwin-Williams Co. and to mountaineering. Arranged alphabetically according to person addressed.
Boxes 8-9

Letters written to Edward Taylor Parsons

Additional Note

Mainly concern student activities and family business. A few letters relate to the Sierra Club and Sherwin-Williams Co. Arranged alphabetically, preceded by a single letter miscellany. A partial list of correspondents follows the key to arrangement.
Ctn. 1-2

Writings of Marion R. Parsons--published and unpublished Mss. (arranged alphabetically by title)


Preliminary notes and sketches


Reviews of her books


Legal papers (including publishing contracts)

Ctn. 3

Personalia - M. R. Parsons

Scope and Content Note

Includes passports, letters of recommendation, mountain climbing record, draft of will (n.d.), marriage certificate, and guest book (signed by John Muir and others).

Miscellany - M. R. Parsons

Scope and Content Note

Includes souvenirs, certificates, etc., relating to American Red Cross service, address book, theater programs, christmas cards, and World War II ration books.

Papers of Edward T. Parsons

Additional Note

Consist of writings (arranged alphabetically by title); diaries, 1865-1885; legal papers (arranged chronologically); personalia (obituary and article by Muir); and miscellany (mainly relating to school years).

Account books of E. T. and M. R. Parsons, 1882-1912

Ctn. 4

Account books and miscellaneous accounts of E. T. and M. R. Parsons, 1911-1914


Newspaper clippings

Scope and Content Note

A few relate to mountaineering and California history.
volume Vol.

Scrapbook relating to the Spanish-American War.

Ctn. 4

Legal and business papers of Charles Wells Randall [father of M. R. Parsons]

Scope and Content Note

Mainly concerning his career with Wakelee and Company, San Francisco. A few relate to real estate in Alameda County, and mining investments.
Ctn. 5

Legal and business papers of Charles W. Randall (cont'd)


Diary of Charles W. Randall, 1873


Randall family genealogy


Correspondence and papers of the Parsons family (excluding E. T. and M. R. Parsons)

oversize Portfolio (oversize)

Médaille de la Reconnaissance Française, August 17, 1920

Letters are written to Marion R. Parsons unless indicated otherwise.

B Miscellany


Badè, William Frederic, 1871-1936


Letter, May 22, 1914


Ballinger, Richard Achilles, 1858-1922

box (Box 8)

Letter to Edward T. Parsons, May 9, 1910. Written as Secretary of the Interior.


Brandt & Kirkpartick


Letter, Jan. 10, 1923. Concerning the publication of Daughter of the Dawn.


Betteridge, Walter Robert, 1863-1916


Letter, June 8, 1914

box (Box 8)

2 letters to Edward T. Parsons, 1881-1882


C Miscellany


Carpenter, Ford Ashman, 1868-1947


Letter, May 31, 1914


Chamberlain, Allen, 1867-


Letter, May 1914


Crocker Art Gallery, Sacramento, Calif.


Letter to Mary Hart Randall, Jan. 20, 1954


California. University. Press


3 letters, 1951-1953. Written by Dorothy H. Huggins and Albert J. Biggins.


Carruth, Fred Hayden, 1862-1932

see Woman's Home Companion


Clemens, Cyril, 1902-

see International Mark Twain Society


Colby, William Edward, 1875-1964


2 letters, 1919 & n.d.


D Miscellany


Davis, Hensley S.


Letter, Mar. 30, 1951


Doubleday & Company, Inc.


Letter, May 8, 1953. Written by Mary Lou Mueller, manager, San Francisco office.


Downing, William Sherman, 1877-


2 letters, 1914


F Miscellany


Farquhar, Francis Peloubet, 1887-


Letter, Dec. 16, 1951


Fitzell, Lincoln, 1903-

see Swallow, Alan


Gleason, Herbert Wendell, 1855-


4 letters, 1914


Graham, Harrington B.


2 letters, 1950-1952


H Miscellany


Hutchinson, James Sather, 1868 ?-1959


Letter, Dec. 8, 1952


Howe, Quincy, 1900-

see Simon & Schuster, Inc.


Huggins, Dorothy Harriet

see California. University. Press


I Miscellany


International Mark Twain Society


Letter, Dec. 26, 1952. Written by Cyril Clemens, president. Invitation to honorary membership.


J Miscellany


Jepson, Willis Linn, 1867-1946


Letter, June 4, 1914


Johnson, Robert Underwood, 1853-1937


Letter to William E. Colby, May 29, 1914


Jeffers, LeRoy, 1878-1926


2 letters, 1914


K Miscellany


Keith, Mary (McHenry), 1855-1947 [Mrs. William Keith]


Letter, June 30, 1914


Kellogg, Vernon Lyman, 1867-1937


Letter, June 7, 1918


Keith, William, 1838-1911

box (Box 8)

2 letters to Edward T. Parsons, 1907 & n.d.


L Miscellany


Le Conte, Helen Marion (Gompertz), 1865-1924 [Mrs. Joseph Nisbet LeConte]


Letter, June 25, 1914


Lehman, Benjamin Harrison, 1889-


6 letters, 1937-1952


Little, Brown & Company


2 letters, 1836-1938


M Miscellany


Marshall, Robert Bradford, 1867-1949


Letter to William E. Colby, June 19, 1914


Martínez, Carmel Grace


Letter, April 14, 1953


Merriam, Clinton Hart, 1855-1942


Letter, July 7, 1917


Miles, Josephine, 1911-


Postcard, Jan. 12, 1953


Mills, Enos Abijah, 1870-1922


Letter to William E. Colby, June 18, 1914


Morbio, Carlo S.


Letter, Sept. 12, 1950


Murdock, Charles Albert, 1841-1928


Letter, May 23, 1914


McAdie, Alexander George, 1863-1943


3 letters, 1914-1952


McFarland, John Horace, 1859-1948


2 letters, 1914


Macmillan Company


6 letters, 1935-1940. Written by Lois Dwight Cole, associate editor.

See also Ober, Harold




2 letters, 1914-1919


Muir, John, 1838-1914


31 letters, 1907-1914 & n.d. Written to M. R. and E. T. Parsons. Telegraph dated May 23, 1914 written to William E. Colby.


Ober, Harold


14 letters, 1938-1941. Written mainly by Ivan Von Auw.

See also Macmillan Company


S Miscellany


Sherman, John, 1823-1900

box (Box 8)

Letter to Edward T. Parsons, Jan. 17, 1885. Written as U.S. senator from Ohio.


Simon & Schuster, Inc.


Letter, June 17, 1936. Written by Quincy Howe.


Sullivan, Noël, 1890-1956


Letter, Nov. 13, 1950. Enclosure: letter to Sullivan from J. M. Byrne, Oct. 28, 1950. concerning Linden Towers.


Swett, Frank Tracy, 1869-


Letter, Dec. 7, 1952


Schwarz, George Frederick, 1868-1931


2 letters, 1914


Sherwin-Williams Co.

box (Box 9)

12 letters to Edward T. Parsons, 1886-1894


Summers, Henry Elijah, 1863-

box (Box 9)

13 letters to Edward T. Parsons, 1880-1882


Swallow, Alan


2 letters, 1947. Letter dated Mar. 6 written by Lincoln Fitzell, his agent.


W Miscellany


Watrous, Richard Benedict, 1869-


Letter, May 27, 1914


Woman's Home Companion


Letter, May 22, 1906. Written by Fred H. Carruth. Concerns article "The Sidewalk Kitchens of San Francisco."


Y Miscellany


Yosemite Natural History Association


Letter, Mar. 20, 1951. Written by Harry C. Parker, business manager.