Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
McLaughlin (Donald H.) Papers
BANC MSS 86/60 c  
View entire collection guide What's This?
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biographical Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Scope and Content
  • Separated Material
  • Publication Rights

  • Contributing Institution: The Bancroft Library
    Title: Donald H. McLaughlin Papers
    Creator: McLaughlin, Donald H. (Donald Hamilton), 1891-1984
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 86/60 c
    Physical Description: 37.5 linear feet (30 cartons)
    Date (inclusive): 1930-1984
    Abstract: Content of the collection concerns gold in all aspects, particularly gold economics and monetary policy; also McLaughlin's term as a Regent of the University of California, especially the Free Speech Movement. The collection includes correspondence, speeches, writings, lectures, interviews, subject files, clippings, and other miscellaneous papers.
    Physical Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
    Language of Material: Collection materials are in English


    The collection is open for research.

    Acquisition Information

    The Donald H. McLaughlin Papers were donated to The Bancroft Library by his wife, Sylvia Cranmer McLaughlin and the Homestake Mining Company on November 7, 1985.

    Biographical Information

    Donald Hamilton McLaughlin was born in San Francisco on 15 December 1891, the son of William Henry and Katherine Hamilton McLaughlin. His father, a doctor, died when he was seven years old. His mother was employed as personal assistant to Phoebe Apperson Hearst, in whose home he spent much of his early years. Throughout her life Mrs. Hearst showed a lively interest in his life and career, urging him to pursue graduate work.
    McLaughlin received a B.S. in mining engineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 1914. He received an A.M. (1915) and a Ph.D. (1917) in geology from Harvard, with a dissertation on the ores of the Homestake Mine, a San Francisco gold mining company whose primary operation was in South Dakota. He was described by a colleague as having been "born a geologist."
    McLaughlin served as a lieutenant in the Army's 63d Infantry until the end of World War I. His first job after the war was as a geologist with the Hearst owned Cerro de Pasco Corporation in Peru. Six years later he was chief geologist, when he accepted an offer of a full professorship at Harvard, then (in 1925), the youngest professor ever appointed. He remained on the Harvard faculty sixteen years. Two of his students were later to follow him as Homestake president: John K. Gustafson and Paul C. Henshaw.
    In 1941 Robert Gordon Sproul lured McLaughlin to the University of California, Berkeley, by asking him to be Dean of Engineering and to consolidate the College of Mining with the College of Engineering. That same year he was named to the Board of Directors of the Homestake Mining Company, where he had been a consulting geologist since 1926. In 1945 he resigned from the Berkeley faculty to become president of Homestake, serving until 1961, when he became chairman of the board. In 1969 he was elected chairman of the executive committee and honorary chairman of the board.
    It is interesting to note that although the Hearst family's interests in Homestake Mining Company had been sold decades earlier, Edward H. Clark, McLaughlin 's predecessor on the board, had been appointed by Phoebe Apperson Hearst and had known McLaughlin as a small boy at the Hacienda, the Hearst estate. So, although the connection was indirect, Homestake's Hearst legacy continued.
    McLaughlin was instrumental in diversifying Homestake's interests by moving into uranium, and later into lead, copper, and zinc. In addition, he initiated other subsidiary ventures designed to lessen the company's dependence on one metal and to provide the balance and strength required to assure continuing modernization and expansion. One of his most significant achievements occurred soon after his appointment as consulting geologist. He was responsible for an increased and continued program of exploration and mapping which eventually proved his theory that, rather than being depleted, as some geologists suggested, the Homestake Lode dipped deeper into the earth than previously imagined. Equally important were the systems of selective mining and cut-and-fill-stopping which he introduced.
    In 1951 Governor Earl Warren appointed McLaughlin to the University of California's Board of Regents, where he served until 1967, presiding as chairman during 1958-1960. He proposed the creation of an Educational Policy Committee and served as chairman from 1953 to 1966. He was a strong advocate of discipline, moral and intellectual, an area he felt had been much neglected, especially during Berkeley's tumultuous 1960s. He was involved with the transition from provosts to chancellors throughout the University system and also in the appointment of several university presidents. McLaughlin had a particular interest in the architectural heritage and development of all the campuses and was chairman of the Regent's Committee on Grounds and Buildings. UC Berkeley's Barrows Hall penthouse is painted red as a concession to him when he could not get the building redesigned to be lower and covered with a tile roof. He was also interested in the development of new campus sites, especially Irvine and Santa Cruz.
    Charles Meyer, University of California, Berkeley professor and one of his former Harvard students, cited McLaughlin's analytical skills, his "genius for precise and penetrating observation and insight," as his most significant characteristic enabling him to assess problems of human relations and social systems as well as those of natural systems.
    McLaughlin considered himself a gold miner and was possessed by a great enthusiasm for all aspects of the ore, but particularly for its place in the world's monetary systems. He was a life long proponent of the gold standard and maintained a vital interest in the gold policies of the U. S. government. He maintained that in times of economic crisis, people will turn to, or return to, lasting values, embodied, of course, in gold. Although he consistently claimed that he had no economic credentials, this never prevented him from espousing his views on the gold situation, even to economists, bankers, and other monetary experts. Politically conservative, but not active beyond financial contributions to Republican candidates, he worked with politicians of both major parties to secure an advantageous economic position for gold and to promote public support for gold-related issues.
    McLaughlin rarely passed up an opportunity to speak, write, lecture or give interviews on his favorite topic. These occasions ranged from addresses at major professional conferences and Congressional hearings to talks before local service clubs and yearly state-of-the-gold-industry updates. Occasionally, however, he did agree to address other topics. Generally he was reticent about himself and his family. Although he readily voiced his opinions, he was always extremely tactful. In a 1980 response to a question from Willa Baum of the University of California's Regional Oral History Office, about his experience doing his oral history he wrote: "Talking about people with whom I had been closely associated undoubtedly would have been more interesting than a recital of facts, but to have revealed all my prejudices might have disturbed the amenities I like to preserve. Harder questions would not have been helpful. . .for I am afraid I would have developed a more protective shell of politeness. . .". Harriet Nathan, the oral history interviewer, called his wit 'astringent,' but that it "was reserved for policies and issues in the public realm."
    McLaughlin held ten corporate directorships during his lifetime: American Trust Company, Bunker Hill Company, Cerro de Pasco Corporation, the Dorr Company, Empire Trust Company, Homestake Mining Company, International Nickel Company of Canada, San Luis Mining Company, Triumph Mining Company, Wells Fargo Bank, and Western Airlines. He also served on the National Science Board of the National Science Foundation, the U. S. Geological Survey Advisory Committee, and the Atomic Energy Commission, among others. In San Francisco he was a charter member of the Exploratorium's board of directors and a trustee of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He was also a council member of the California Alumni Association.
    In 1961 he was awarded the Rand Medal by the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers for distinguished achievement in mining administration. Columbia University awarded him their Ambrose Monell Medal and Prize in 1964 for outstanding achievement in mineral technology. He was Kappa Sigma's "Man of the Year" in 1953 and Berkeley's "Alumnus of the Year" in 1977. The University of California, Berkeley renamed its engineering building for him in 1966. In 1983 the Homestake Mining Company began development of a new gold mining operation in northern California known as the McLaughlin Mine.
    He belonged to a dozen professional, academic, and civic organizations ranging from Phi Beta Kappa and Kappa Sigma to the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers (president in 1950) and the Council on Foreign Affairs. He was a member of San Francisco's Bohemian Club, the Pacific-Union Club, and the Engineers Club, University Club and Century Club in New York, and the Cosmos Club in Washington, D.C.
    McLaughlin was married twice. He and his first wife, Eleanor Eckhard, divorced in 1941. They had two children, Donald H. and Charles C. McLaughlin. In 1948 he married Sylvia Cranmer of Denver. Two children were born of this marriage, George Cranmer and Jean Katherine McLaughlin.
    Donald McLaughlin died on December 31, 1984 at the age of 93.
    Bronson, William, and T. H. Watkins. Homestake: The Centennial History of America's Greatest Gold Mine.. San Francisco, Calif.: Homestake Mining Company, 1977.
    Carlisle, Henry. [An interview with] Donald H. McLaughlin, Mining Engineering, June 1965.
    Clark, Edward Hardy. Reminiscences of the Hearst Family. Transcript of donated oral history. The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, California,n.d.
    Hughes, Lon. Transcript of radio interview, Mr. D. H. McLaughlin, President of Homestake Mining Company, over station KQW, 9:30 p.m., Sunday, January 5, 1947 . Donald H. McLaughlin Papers, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, Calif.
    McLaughlin, Donald H. Careers in Mining Geology and Management, University Governance and Teaching.Oral history transcript. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California, Regional Oral History Office
    McLaughlin, Donald H. Letter to Willa Baum, 23 July 1980. Donald H. McLaughlin Papers,The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, Calif.
    San Francisco Chronicle. Donald H. McLaughlin obituary, January 1, 1985.
    Skillings, David N., Jr. Homestake Proceeding with Its McLaughlin Gold Project, in Skillings' Mining Review, January 22, 1983.
    Stadtman, Verne A. The Centennial Record of the University of California.[Berkeley, Calif.]: University of California, 1968.
    Who's Who in America.Volume 31. Chicago: A. N. Marquis Company, 1960.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Donald H. McLaughlin papers, BANC MSS 86/60 c, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

    Scope and Content

    The Donald H. McLaughlin Papers consist primarily of correspondence, although speeches, writings, lectures, interviews, personal papers, topical subject files, and newspaper clippings are also included. The correspondence in this collection is from a variety of persons. Although most of it is quite routine in nature, the topic under consideration by virtually all correspondents is gold: the economics of gold, including the price of, private ownership of, the gold standard, and monetary policy; gold legislation, pending and proposed, including subsidies for gold producers and the elimination of the 25% gold reserve; gold uses and properties; and gold exploration and mining. By far the largest number of letters concern gold economics.
    McLaughlin's correspondents include, in order of significance, corporate executives, bankers, economists, lawyers, mining engineers and geologists, executives of professional associations, editors, and others interested in gold. Seventy-three percent of McLaughlin's correspondents wrote 19 or fewer letters, 20% wrote between 20-49, and 6% wrote more than 50. Many of his correspondents kept him apprised of various situations by sending him copies of their correspondence with others; this accounts for 41 folders of letters neither to nor from McLaughlin.
    Among his principal correspondents are several close personal friends: Arch Gulick (lawyer), Clare Morse Torrey (banker), Henry C. Breck (banker), Robert Koenig (corporate executive), and Allan Sproul (banker). These letters contain personal and family details, continuing jokes and bets, and news of mutual acquaintances, in addition to business matters. McLaughlin's most frequent correspondent was Philip Cortney, president of Coty, Inc. The collection contains a total of 203 letters from Cortney to McLaughlin. For seventeen years Cortney and McLaughlin exchanged letters concerning every aspect of gold economics, including legislation and monetary policy. In addition, there are 5 folders of letters from Cortney to others on the same topic in series 3 (letters neither to nor from Donald H. McLaughlin).
    Also among his principal correspondents is the South Dakota law firm of Kellar, Kellar & Driscoll, which represented the Homestake Mining Company in South Dakota. Most of the letters were written by Kenneth C. Kellar and concern lobbying and legislative efforts on behalf of gold, both at the state and national level. Homestake opposed unionization and Kellar was active in the National Right To Work Committee. Despite several elections, Homestake remained non-union until 1966 when the United Steel Workers won. Kellar kept McLaughlin apprised of his activities and the prevailing South Dakota conditions by sending him copies of his correspondence with others, which appears in series 3. Kellar maintained the local South Dakota political links necessary to Homestake.
    Notable among McLaughlin's subject files in series 6 are those concerning several small mining companies: Bunker Hill Company, Cerro de Pasco Corporation, and San Luis Mining Company. There is only one folder of miscellaneous items concerning Homestake Mining Company.
    Series 9 and 10 consist of papers relating to McLaughlin's term as a Regent of the University of California, as well as a substantial amount of correspondence relating to other University concerns.

    Separated Material

    1. Photographs have been transferred to Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft Library.(BANC PIC 1989.053--PIC)
    2. Maps have been transferred to the Map Room.
    3. Sound recordings have been transferred to the Microforms Collection of The Bancroft Library. (Phonotape 1987)

    Publication Rights

    Some materials in these collections may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). In addition, the reproduction of some materials may be restricted by terms of University of California gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user. For additional information about the University of California, Berkeley Library's permissions policy please see: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/about/permissions-policies

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Free Speech Movement (Berkeley, Calif.)
    Gold standard
    Breck, Henry Cushman, b. 1893. Correspondent
    Cortney, Philip, b. 1895. Correspondent
    Gulick, Archibald A., b. 1876. Correspondent
    Huelsdonk, Lewis Leroy, 1905- Correspondent
    Kellar, Kenneth C. Correspondent
    Koenig, Robert P., 1904- Correspondent
    Sproul, Allan, 1896-1978. Correspondent
    Torrey, Clare Morse, 1891-1977. Correspondent
    Homestake Mining Company
    University of California (System). Regents
    University of California, Berkeley
    Torrey, Clare Morse, 1891-1977
    Breck, Henry Cushman, 1893-
    Koenig, Robert P., 1904-
    Sproul, Allan, 1896-
    Kellar, Kenneth C.,
    Cortney, Philip, 1895-
    Huelsdonk, Lewis Leroy, 1905-