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Guide to the Robert Bradford Marshall papers, 1898-1949
BANC MSS C-B 511  
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Collection Details
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  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Robert Bradford Marshall Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1898-1949
    Collection Number: BANC MSS C-B 511
    Creator: Marshall, Robert Bradford, 1867-1949
    Extent: Number of containers: 23 boxes, 4 scrapbooks, 1 portfolio, 1 volume Linear feet: 12
    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: Correspondence, notes, manuscripts of his writings, speeches, memoranda, clippings and scrapbooks, mainly relating to the Marshall Plan for water development, conservation, Hetch-Hetchy, roads, Yosemite National Park and other parks. Family correspondence and personal papers also included.
    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], Robert Bradford Marshall papers, BANC MSS C-B 511, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Material Cataloged Separately

    • Photographs transferred to the Bancroft Pictorial Collections (
      Identifier/Call Number: BANC PIC 1954.015--PIC,
      Identifier/Call Number: 1905.06653-.06739,
      Identifier/Call Number: 1905.06746-.06881--PIC

    List of printed items removed:

      Ballinger, R. A.:
      Address . . . delivered at Public Lands Convention, Denver, Sept. 1911. A portrayal of bureaucratic government in America.
      California Council For Protection Of Roadside Beauty.
      Annual Report. 1931.
      California. Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks.
      Circular A, B, D, 1928.
      California. Legislature.
      Water Commission Act. Chapter 586, stats. 1913.
      California. State Water Commission.
      Rules and regulations governing the appropriation of water in California in accordance with Chapter 586, statutes of 1913.
      Colorado Mountain Club.
      Complete list of members. 1913.
      Great Northern Railway.
      Short jaunts for little money -Glacier National Park. n.d.
      Miller, Clement H.
      Address . . . before the S. F. Center of the California Civic League on the wisdom of the proposed grant by congress of the use of Hetch-Hetchy Valley . . . n.d.
      National Highway Association.
      National Highways and Good Roads Everywhere. [1913?]
      National Park Conference.
      Proceedings . . . held at Yellowstone National Park, Sept. 11-12, 1911. (U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C. 1912)
      O'Shaughnessy, H. M.
      Hetch-Hetchy Water Supply of San Francisco. Report of . . . City Engineer to the Mayor, the Board of Public Works and the Board of Supervisors of San Francisco. Mar. 1916.
      U.S. Congress.
      Public Resolution no. 27.
      U.S. Congress, 72nd Congress, 2d Session.
      Report B25. Feb. 28, 1933. Utilization of the Water Resources of the Sacramento, San Joaquin, and Kern Rivers, California.
      U.S. Congress.
      Yosemite and General Grant National Parks. (An act to set apart certain land in the state of California as forest reservations) Approved Oct. 1, 1890.
      U.S. Dept. of the Interior.
      Some lakes of Glacier National Park. 1912.
      U.S. Dept. of the Interior.
      Office of the Secretary.

      (1) General information regarding Crater Lake National Park, Season of 1913.

      (2) General information regarding Sequoia and General Grant National Parks, Season of 1913.

      (3) General information regarding Yosemite National Park, Season of 1915.
      U.S. Secretary of the Interior.
      Letter to Mayor and Supervisors of City and County of San Francisco, California. Feb. 25, 1910.


    Robert Bradford Marshall, geographer and father of the Marshall Plan for irrigation and water conservation of the Central Valley in California, was born in Amelia County, Virginia in 1867. He entered the U.S. Geological Survey as a geographer in 1889, became Geographer of the Pacific Division in 1907 and was appointed Chief Geographer of the U.S. Geological Survey in 1910. This position he held until 1915 when he was appointed Superintendent of Parks. He resumed the position of Chief Geographer in 1917. In 1919 he resigned his government post to devote himself fully to developing and publicizing his Marshall Plan of irrigation and water control of the Central Valley of California. Due in part to his extensive and intensive schedule of speeches, he developed a severe throat irritation requiring the removal of his larynx in 1927. He thereby lost power of speech and was able to converse only with the aid of an artificial larynx. In 1928 he was appointed State Landscape Engineer in the California Division of Public Works where his duties related to highway beautification and safety. At this time he also did considerable research for the California State Planning Board concerning California and her natural resources. He retired at the age of 70 in 1937 and died in 1949 after several years of ill health, shortly before the completion of one of his dreams, the Shasta Dam.
    He married Myra Crow of California in 1896, and had two daughters, Evelyn Bradford Marshall (Mrs. Philip Maddox) and Virginia Mann Marshall.

    Scope and Content

    This collection, given to the Bancroft Library in 1953 by Virginia Mann Marshall, consists of 23 boxes, 4 scrapbooks, 1 portfolio, 1 volume and maps.
    Marshall's letters and writings show him as an enthusiastic supporter of state and national parks, intensely interested in all phases of conservation, acutely aware of natural beauty, a crusader for public good, and an ardent geographer. He was a man with vision and foresight -his Marshall Plan of 1919-1920 came to be the basis of the Central Valley Project of the 1930's. He constantly fought for his plan and for flood control of the Mississippi River.
    Letters to Marshall, from such conservationists as William Edward Colby, John Muir, John Frederic Badh, John Nesbet Le Conte and James Grafton Rogers, form an important part of the collection. Much of the correspondence from Hiram Martin Chittenden, Frank Bond, H. C. Benson and the U.S. Department of the Interior relates to the early history of Yosemite as a National Park. Letters from Charles Averil Barlow and Ed Fletcher, though chiefly concerned with private financial business, also reflect the early workings of California water projects. Letters from the California Council for Protection of Roadside Beauty show Marshall's interest in the beauty of highways and his battle against unsightly highway signs. Photocopies of letters from Rudolph Spreckels, letters from Annette (Abbott) Adams, Carter and Barrett, and Paul A. McCarthy deal with Marshall's suit against Spreckels. Many letters relate to national and state parks, the Marshall Plan, conservation, maps, and some pertain to routine business matters such as insurance, retirement, property in Virginia, etc. Letters to and from his family demonstrate an unusually devoted and harmonious domestic life.
    Part I contains general correspondence from Marshall, mostly typed copies, arranged chronologically, from 1898-1948; letters to Marshall, arranged alphabetically, A-Z; Marshall's writings, including notes, drafts and manuscripts; memoranda from and to Marshall; and assorted material related to his work.
    Part II consists mainly of letters from Marshall to his fiancee, Myra Crow, and to his wife, a few letters to his children and sister-in-law; letters from Mrs. Marshall to her husband, 1898-1948; letters from daughters Evelyn and Virginia to parents; from Evelyn (Crow) Simmons, to Mrs. Marshall; letters of condolence, tributes to R. B. Marshall, and miscellaneous personal papers.
    Material removed from the collection consists in: maps -approximately 300, quadrangles and miscellaneous with no annotations and no specific relationship to papers, dispersed, with source noted on each; maps, approximately 175, manuscripts and printed with manuscript notations, kept as unit; 7 photographs (Myra C. Marshall, C. C. Young and Newton B. Drury) to portrait collection; and 17 printed items, mainly pertaining to national parks and water conservation, for separate cataloguing.