Findind Aid to the Wm. (William) McDevitt Papers, 1892-1959

Processed by Stephen Sturgeon; additions by Alison E. Bridger
The Bancroft Library.
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, California, 94720-6000
Phone: (510) 642-6481
Fax: (510) 642-7589
© 2007
The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.


History --History, California --History, Bay Area

Finding Aid to the Wm. (William) McDevitt Papers, 1892-1959

Collection number: BANC MSS 89/86 c

The Bancroft Library

University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley, California

Contact Information:

Processed by:
Stephen Sturgeon; additions by Alison E. Bridger
Date Completed:
1990; additions 2007
Encoded by:
Xiuzhi Zhou
© 2007 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Collection Summary

Collection Title: Wm. (William) McDevitt Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1892-1959
Collection Number: BANC MSS 89/86 c
Creator: McDevitt, Wm. (William)
Extent: Number of containers: 4 boxes, 1 carton, 1 oversize folder Linear feet: 2.65
Repository: The Bancroft Library
Berkeley, California 94720-6000
Abstract: Contains personal and business correspondence (ca. 1892-1959); manuscripts of writings; business records; clippings; some printed pamphlets, many authored by McDevitt; printed ephemera (theatrical, World War II, Panama-Pacific International Exposition, Socialist Party); other material relating to his wide ranging interests. Principal or significant correspondents include: Joseph Henry Jackson, Charmain London, H. L. Mencken, William Meredith, Tom Mooney, Veronica Sexton, Upton Sinclair, John B. (Father) Tabb, and Virginia Wilhelmson. Also includes various ephemera principally of local interest to the San Francisco Bay Area.
Languages Represented: English
Physical Location: Many of the Bancroft Library collections are stored offsite and advance notice may be required for use. For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the library's online catalog.

Information for Researchers


Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94270-6000. Consent is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission from the copyright owner. Such permission must be obtained from the copyright owner. See: 
Restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Wm. (William) McDevitt Papers, BANC MSS 89/86 c, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

Alternate Forms Available

There are no alternate forms of this collection.

Separated Material

  • Some printed materials have been transferred to the book collection of The Bancroft Library.
  • Photographs have been transferred to the Pictorial Collection of The Bancroft Library. (BANC PIC 1989.043--PIC)

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
McDevitt, Wm. (William)—Archives
London, Charmian
Jackson, Joseph Henry, 1894-1955
Mencken, H. L. (Henry Louis), 1880-1956
Meredith, William John
Mooney, Thomas J., 1882-1942
Sexton, Veronica J.
Sinclair, Upton, 1878-1968
Tabb, John B. (John Banister), 1845-1909
Panama-Pacific International Exposition, (1915: San Francisco, Calif.)
San Francisco Bay Area (Calif.)

Administrative Information

Acquisition Information

The Wm. (William) McDevitt Papers were given to The Bancroft Library by the California Academy of Sciences, to which they were bequeathed by Versonica J. Sexton, on August 3, 1989. Additions were made in 2005.

Biographical Information

Socialist, bookseller, author. Principal areas of interest included: McDevitt's simplified spelling and shorthand systems; the antiquarian book trade; socialism and the Socialist Party in San Francisco; contemporary literary figures including Jack London, Upton Sinclair, Father Tabb, and George Sterling. For additional biographical information see: Roos, Robert de, "An interview with William McDevitt, LL.M." (The Book Club of California Quarterly Newsletter, Vol. XIX, No. 4, Fall 1954.)

Scope and Content of Collection

The William McDevitt Papers contain business and personal correspondence, manuscripts of writings, business records, and clippings, along with some printed pamphlets, many of which were authored by McDevitt, and other material relating to McDevitt's wide ranging interests. These included his simplified spelling and shorthand systems, the antiquarian book business, socialism and the Socialist Party in San Francisco, and contemporary literary figures, in particular Jack London, Upton Sinclair, Father Tabb, and George Sterling.
The collection also contains various ephemera, principally of local interest to the Bay Area, and other miscellaneous material collected by McDevitt.
Principal correspondents in the collection include Joseph Henry Jackson, Charmian London, H. L. Mencken, William J. Meredith, Tom (Thomas J.) Mooney, Veronica Sexton, Upton Sinclair, John B. (Father) Tabb, and Virginia Wilhelmson.

Container List


SERIES 1: CORRESPONDENCE, 1892-1959, undated


INCOMING, 1892-1958

Box 1, folder 1


Box 1, folder 2

A miscellaneous

Box 1, folder 3

B - Blanck

Box 1, folder 4

Boom - C

Box 1, folder 5

C - Cle.

Box 1, folder 6

Clo. - D

Box 1, folder 7

D miscellaneous

Box 1, folder 8

E miscellaneous

Box 1, folder 9

F miscellaneous


Father Tabb

see: Tabb, John B. (John Banister), 1845-1909

Box 1, folder 10

G miscellaneous

Box 1, folder 11

H - Her.

Box 1, folder 12

Hes. - J

Box 1, folder 13

J miscellaneous

Box 1, folder 14

Jackson, Joseph Henry, 1894-1955 1939-1947

Box 1, folder 15

K miscellaneous

Box 1, folder 16

L - Lewis

Box 1, folder 17

Li. - Lo

Box 1, folder 18

London, Charmian,

see also: Carton 1, folder 1

Box 1, folder 19

M - Mars

Box 1, folder 20

Martin, Helen 1946-1958

Box 1, folder 21

Marv - McReynolds

Box 1, folder 22

Mencken, H. L. (Henry Louis), 1880-1956 1928-1955

Box 1, folder 23

Meredith, William John 1905-1931

Box 1, folder 24

Mighels - Mo

Box 1, folder 25

Mooney, Thomas J., 1882-1942 1937

Box 2, folder 1

N - O miscellaneous

Box 2, folder 2

P miscellaneous

Box 2, folder 3

R miscellaneous

Box 2, folder 4

S - Sexton, Jane

Box 2, folder 5

Sexton, Veronica J., 1946-1951

Box 2, folder 6

Sha. - Si

Box 2, folder 7

Sinclair, Upton, 1878-1968 1910-1958

Box 2, folder 8

Tabb, John B. (John Banister), 1845-1909 1892-1905

Additional Note

Letters signed Father Tabb
Box 2, folder 9

T - V miscellaneous

Box 2, folder 10

W - Z miscellaneous

Box 2, folder 11

Wilhelmson, Virginia 1905, undated


OUTGOING, 1908-1959, undated



Box 2, folder 12


Box 2, folder 13

1908 -1940

Box 2, folder 14

1940 -1948

Box 2, folder 15

Jan. -Sept. 1948

Box 2, folder 16

Oct. -Dec. 1948

Box 2, folder 17


Box 2, folder 18

1950 -1953

Box 2, folder 19

1954 -1956

Box 2, folder 20

1957 -1959



Box 3, folder 1-10

A - L miscellaneous

Box 3, folder 11

Lilly, J. K. 1932-1933

Physical Description: - 9 items
Box 3, folder 12-18

M - Z miscellaneous



Carton 1, folder 1-4

Jack London

Additional Note

Includes correspondence to R. W. Francis from Charmian (Mrs. Jack) London
Carton 1, folder 5-8

Upton Sinclair

Carton 1, folder 9-13

John B. Tabb (Father)

Carton 1, folder 14

George Sterling

Carton 1, folder 15-21

Socialist/Political Material

Carton 1, folder 22-32


Carton 1, folder 33-40

Personal Papers

Carton 1, folder 41-44

Simplified Spelling/Shorthand



Box 4, folder 1

Items from unidentified people

Box 4, folder 2

Cards and announcements

Box 4, folder 3

Commemorative medal and button

Box 4, folder 4

Photocopies of letters by Ambrose Bierce

Box 4, folder 5

World War II ephemera

Box 4, folder 6

Business cards

Box 4, folder 7

Writings of other people

Box 4, folder 8

Theatrical ephemera

Box 4, folder 9


Box 4, folder 10

Panama-Pacific International Exposition ephemera

Box 4, folder 11


Box 4, folder 12


Box 4, folder 13

Carbon copy of M.A. thesis by Ralph Shaffer, A History of the Socialist Party in California

Box 4, folder 14

Copy of manuscript by Ina Heron, Wild Geese in the Bronx

Box 4, folder 15

Local printed ephemera

Box 4, folder 16

Lecture and demonstration invitations

Box 4, folder 17


Oversize folder 1 A

Certificate of appointment to San Francisco Board of Election Commissioners, January 8, 1920