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Inventory of the Andrae B. Nordskog Papers, 1903-1962 (bulk 1920-1961)
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Access Points
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Related Collections

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Andrae B. Nordskog Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1903-1962 (bulk 1920-1961)
    Collection number: NORDSKOG
    Creator: Andrae B. Nordskog, 1885-1962
    Extent: .5 linear ft. (1 box)
    Repository: Water Resources Collections and Archives
    Riverside, CA 92517-5900
    Shelf location: This collection is stored off-campus at NRLF. Please contact the Water Resources Collections and Archives staff for access to the materials.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Donated to the Water Resources Collections and Archives by Mrs. Gertrude Nordskog in 1962.


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to the Water Resources Collections and Archives. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Water Resources Collections and Archives 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], Andrae B. Nordskog Papers, NORDSKOG, Water Resources Collections and Archives, University of California, Riverside.

    Access Points

    Southwest Water League.
    Los Angeles County Flood Control District.
    Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
    Boulder Canyon Project (U.S.)
    Feather River Project (Calif.)
    Water resources development--California, Southern.
    Water-supply--California--Los Angeles.
    Water rights--California--Owens River Valley.
    Owens River Valley (Calif.)
    Los Angeles Aqueduct (Calif.)
    San Gabriel Dam (Calif.)
    Colorado River (Colo.-Mexico)
    Saline water conversion.
    Jakobsen, B. F. (Bernhard F.)
    Fox, Charles Kirby, 1883-


    Andrae B. Nordskog (at first named Arne Andreas Nordskog) was born the son of Norwegian settlers in Story City, Iowa, in 1885. As a youth, he worked as a reporter for his home town newspaper. He became an expert in telephony and electronics and established the first two wireless telegraph stations in Iowa when he was 24 years old. He turned his inventive talent to the railroads moved west to Seattle to work on them, inventing an improved block signal device, which he patented in Washington.
    Nordskog was also an accomplished singer. He joined the Seattle Grand Opera Company in 1914 and two years later was the leading tenor with the Knickerbocker Light Opera Company in Los Angeles. In 1921, he became general manager of the recently inaugurated Hollywood Bowl. He soon allied music with his other interests and, while running a lucrative voice training school, he was able to buy equipment from a free-lance recorder and start the first phonograph recording factory on the West Coast. He opened branch offices of Nordskog Records in Santa Monica and Los Angeles.
    Beginning in the spring of 1922, Nordskog Records produced New Orleans jazz records, which have since become collectors' items, including early recordings by Edward "Kid" Ory and his band. By 1923, Nordskog's catalogue included names like Cyclonic Eva Tanguay,Virginia Wald,Abe Lyman,Harry Green, and the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce Industrial Chorus.
    In 1923, Nordskog fell victim to a crooked banker, lost his business, and turned his attention to civic and financial reform. At first, he wrote articles for community newspapers, while still earning income as a voice instructor. His main targets were the telephone companies, which were charging unfair rates. In late 1926 he began publishing the Los Angeles Gridiron, a small weekly newspaper. The first issues focused on such reform efforts as reduction of telephone rates, paving of streets, installation of storm drains, and development of city parks. He followed this newspaper with the publication of The New America Magazine and Our Nation Magazine.
    In August 1931, Nordskog was invited by William Hope (Coin) Harvey to attend the formation of the Liberty Party at Monte Ne, Arkansas, which had for its main plank "honest coinage according to the Constitution." Nordskog was nominated unanimously as the party's candidate for Vice-President of the United States, and in that capacity he toured the nation giving public speeches for that party. In 1932, at the convention of six independent political parties which were amalgamated into the Liberty Party, held in Kansas City, Missouri, Nordskog was again nominated for that party's vice-presidential candidate.
    Demands for his writings on the subject of "honest coinage" and "governmental finance" compelled Nordskog to author and self-publish several books on these subjects, among which were Spiking the Gold, or, Who Caused the Depression, ... and the Way Out (1932), Spike the Bonds (1933), and We Bankers vs. Four Financial Fascists (1936). He was also authorized by the California State Board of Education to teach the subjects of "The Science of Money" and "Governmental Finance" to adult classes in all high schools in the state.
    In the late 1920s/early 1930s, Nordskog's chief interest was in the area of southwestern water issues. He was president of the Southwest Water League and conducted public meetings in cities throughout Southern California. In 1927, he became interested in the escalating dispute between the city of Los Angeles and the residents of the Owens Valley. He began publishing articles and editorials in the Gridiron championing the valley's cause and criticizing the city. He obtained radio time on station KGEF and accused Los Angeles Department of Water and Power officials of corruption and incompetence.
    In early 1928, Nordskog went to Washington, D.C. and visited the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation offices, where he obtained permission to transcribe documents and correspondence. Nordskog used this material to write a 540-page manuscript entitled Boulder Dam in the Light of the Owens Valley Fraud, which "linked the then pending construction of Boulder Dam with the Owens River Aqueduct as a seamless conspiratorial plot dating back to 1904 (Hoffman, 1982)." Nordskog was unable to interest a major publisher in the manuscript and considered publishing it himself. However, the Great Depression made it unfeasible. Then, in March 1931, a state senate committee began investigating Los Angeles' role in Inyo County. Nordskog condensed his manuscript into a lengthy letter and submitted it to the committee. Although it did not influence the committee's recommendations, it did impress the committee sufficiently to be ordered read into the legislative journal and 1,500 copies printed as a 28-page pamphlet entitled, Communication to the California Legislature Relating to the Owens Valley Water Situation. In 1955 he reworked the manuscript again, this time calling it Water is Plentiful. Like its predecessor, this manuscript also was never published.
    Andrae Nordskog died in 1962.
    Biographical Sources:
    Asman, James. The Remarkable Andrae Nordskog. Record and Show Mirror (London), April 16, 1960, p. 6.
    Bentley, John, and Ralph W. Miller. Andrae Nordskog. Jazz Monthly (London), May 1959, p. 8.
    Biographical Sketch of Andrae Nordskog. Unpublished manuscript, July 22, 1961.
    Hoffman, Abraham. Andrae Nordskog and the Conspiracy Viewpoint of the Owens Valley-Los Angeles Water Controversy. Biblio-Cal Notes, Vol. 12, no. 2, whole no. 35 (Summer 1982), p. 5-9.
    Hoffman, Abraham. Vision or Villainy: Origins of the Owens Valley-Los Angeles Water Controversy. College Station, Tex.: Texas A & M University Press, 1981.
    Levin, Floyd. Central Avenue Sounds: Jazz in Los Angeles, 1921-1944. http://www.rhino.com/features/liners/75872lin5.html 

    Scope and Content

    Correspondence, notes, news clippings, etc., related to Nordskog's water interests. Includes materials related to "water frauds" in the Owens Valley (including notes and an outline for his unpublished manuscript on the Owens Valley controversy), the Los Angeles Aqueduct, Boulder Dam, San Gabriel Dam, sea water conversion, California water problems, the Feather River Project,Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the Colorado River, etc.

    Related Collections

    Andrae B. Nordskog Papers, 1906-1986. California State University, Northridge.  15 lin. ft. (33 boxes). Summary: Articles, booklets, correspondence, news clippings, statements, speeches, and writings related to Nordskog's interest and activity on public utilities, music, transportation, California water issues, Federal Reserve Banks, and electoral college reform.
    Andrae B. Nordskog Papers, 1919-1964. Minnesota Historical Society.  1.25 cu. ft. (2 boxes, and 1 v. shelved loose). Summary: Correspondence, clippings, printed items, and miscellany reflecting Nordskog's varied career and interests, primarily in California. There are data on his career as a concert artist and music instructor; the operation (1921-1960) of his Nordskog Phonograph Recording Company, Los Angeles; plans to abolish the electoral college system in electing U.S. presidents (1931-1961); Nordskog's candidacy for U.S. vice-president on the Liberty Party ticket (1931-1932); banking and monetary reform, especially Nordskog's lawsuit (1933-1934) against the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco to release gold deposited there; telephone rates and franchises in southern California (1925-1958); his service (1924-1926) as chairman of the Southern California Rate and Traffic Commission; and provisions for an adequate water supply for Los Angeles (1928-1961) stemming from his presidency of the Southwest Water League. Includes manuscripts Boulder Dam in the Light of the Owens Valley Fraud and Water is Plentiful.