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John Semple Galbraith Papers
MSS 0041  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Acquisition Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Publication Rights
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Creator: Galbraith, John S.
    Title: John Semple Galbraith Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1945-1994
    Extent: 5.00 linear feet (12 archives boxes and 1 cardfile box)
    Abstract: Papers of John S. Galbraith, professor of history and university administrator. Galbraith specialized in the history of the British Empire and taught at the University of California, Los Angeles (1948-1964 and 1968-1984) and the University of California, San Diego (1984-1987). He also served as the second chancellor of UCSD (1964-1968). The papers include correspondence, photographs, drafts of speeches, biographical information, and recommendations. Although the bulk of the materials documents Galbraith's professional activities, some correspondence relates to the administration of UCSD. The collection is arranged in eight series: 1) CORRESPONDENCE, 2) EPHEMERA, 3) MISCELLANY, 4) SPEECHES, 5) PHOTOGRAPHS, 6) BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION, 7) WRITINGS BY GALBRAITH, and 8) RECOMMENDATIONS. The accession processed in 1994 contains recent correspondence (1992-1993) and miscellaneous materials. The accessions processed in 1997 are arranged in five series: 1) JOURNAL ARTICLES, 2) SPEECHES, 3) UNPUBLISHED WRITINGS, 4) COURSE OUTLINES, and 5) MISCELLANEOUS MATERIALS.
    Repository: University of California, San Diego. Geisel Library. Mandeville Special Collections Library.
    La Jolla, California 92093-0175
    Collection number: MSS 0041
    Language of Material: Collection materials in English


    The recommendations in box 9 of the John S. Galbraith Papers are restricted until 2044.

    Acquisition Information

    Not Available

    Preferred Citation

    John Semple Galbraith Papers, MSS 0041. Mandeville Special Collections Library, UCSD.

    Publication Rights

    Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.


    A native of Glasgow, Scotland, John Semple Galbraith was born on November 10, 1916. His family emigrated to the United States in 1925, and he received his primary and secondary education in Ohio. He graduated from Ohio's Miami University with a bachelor's degree in 1938, and pursued graduate studies at the University of Iowa, where he obtained a master's degree in 1940 and a Ph.D. in history in 1943. Shortly after his graduation, Galbraith joined the U.S. Air Force and served as an historian until 1946.
    In 1948 Dr. Galbraith began his long career at the University of California. In that year he took a teaching position in the Department of History at UCLA. At Los Angeles he sat on numerous committees, including the Budget Committee of the Academic Senate (1961-1962) and the Los Angeles Division of the Academic Senate (1961-1964). He served as chairman of the Department of History between 1954 and 1958. Galbraith took an active interest in the growth of the UCLA Library, and selected works for the collection in the area of British Empire history, his academic specialty.
    The early 1960s were years of major expansion for the University of California system, and Dr. Galbraith was involved in the development of campuses in Southern California. In July of 1964 he was appointed Vice Chancellor, Academic Affairs, at the new San Diego Campus. After the resignation of UCSD Chancellor Herbert F. York, U.C. President Clark Kerr named Galbraith as York's replacement.
    Galbraith quickly became a popular and respected administrator. He continued the UCSD tradition of finding outstanding people to fill academic and administrative posts. Along with his wife Laura, Galbraith involved himself in a wide array of San Diego community affairs, and thereby helped promote better relations between the university and the city's political and social leaders.
    Dr. Galbraith, like other UCSD chancellors, had ambitious plans for the campus. Among his highest priorities was the development of the university library. Because of his background as an academic historian, he understood the importance of large and comprehensive collections for scholarly research -- especially for research in the humanities. He had discussed this subject with President Kerr prior to assuming the chancellorship, and Kerr had assured Galbraith that UCSD would eventually have the third great library in the U.C. system, with an acquisitions rate equal to those in Berkeley and Los Angeles. However, Kerr was slow in fulfilling this committment, and this prompted Galbraith to postpone his UCSD inauguration, originally scheduled for September 1965, to November of that year.
    The library issue and other administrative matters created friction between Galbraith and Kerr. On February 18, 1966, Galbraith and UCSD Vice Chancellor Robert Biron submitted their resignations to the U.C. President. Precipitating the resignations was Kerr's failure to add to the Regents' agenda the approval of the design of the UCSD Medical School. Although the resignations were later withdrawn, relations between Kerr and Galbraith improved little.
    Like other college campuses in the 1960s, UCSD witnessed the growth of what would eventually become a nation-wide student movement organized, in part, as opposition to U.S. military involvement in Indochina. In November, 1967, during Dr. Galbraith's administration, one group of students, who had set up an informational table in Revelle Plaza, began flying the North Vietnamese flag in protest of the U.S. military effort. The flag angered Leucadia assemblyman John Stull, and Stull demanded that Galbraith have the flag forcibly removed. Galbraith, after consulting with the U.C. legal counsel, declared that the university had no legal basis for removing the flag. Stull then called for Galbraith's suspension, among other measures. However, Galbraith successfully defended his stance on the issue, and he argued that the university administration, as well as the students, must abide by the rule of law.
    Dr. Galbraith had never planned on an administrative career, and in 1968 he resigned the UCSD chancellorship to return to teaching and scholarship. In that year he accepted the prestigious Smuts Visiting Fellowship at Cambridge University in England, and the following year he returned to UCLA to teach history.
    After his return to UCLA, Dr. Galbraith served on a number of important committees. Among them were the University Committee on Educational Policy (1969-1970), the Coordinating Committee of Graduate Affairs (1969-1970), the University Task Force to Reconsider the 1966 Growth Plan (1970-1971). In September 1977 Dr. Galbraith was chosen as the faculty representative on the U.C. Board of Regents, and he served on the Board through the Spring of of 1978.
    Galbraith was also active in the U.C. system's library development. He was not, however, happy with the direction that development took; one of his greatest disappointments was the University's decision to create a centralized library system with
    regional storage facilities at Berkeley and Los Angeles and greater reliance on inter-campus loans (the so-called Salmon Plan). Galbraith felt that such a plan would hinder the process of "browsing" the stacks -- a process he saw as important to scholarly research. In a short pamphlet titled "An Historian's Viewpoint on University Libraries" (La Jolla: Friends of the UCSD Library, 1968) Dr. Galbraith had expounded his theory of the "shoe-leather" school of scholarship, in which the scholar found important sources of information not only through catalogs or indexes but also by walking the stacks of the library. Such an approach would be hindered when large portions of a library's collection were stored off-site, accessible only through catalog records and inter-campus loans. Therefore Dr. Galbraith felt that the new plans for the U.C. library system were detrimental to library research at all but the Berkeley and Los Angeles campuses.
    Dr. Galbraith returned to UCSD in 1984, where he taught British Empire history until his retirement in 1987. He continued his involvement in university-wide affairs, and both he and his wife became important supporters of the Friends of the UCSD Library.
    During his career, Dr. Galbraith succeeded in combining important scholarly work with an active involvement in administration and university policy-making. His many publications include THE HUDSON'S BAY COMPANY AS AN IMPERIAL FACTOR (1957), THE RELUCTANT EMPIRE (1963), MACKINNON AND EAST AFRICA (1972), CROWN AND CHARTER (1974), and THE LITTLE EMPEROR (1976). His studies took him to England, Africa, Canada, and Australia, where he conducted research and lectured. He received many prestigious fellowships and grants, including a Ford Foundation Grant (1955-1956), a Social Science Research Council Fellowship (1959-1960), the Smuts Visiting Fellowship (1968-1969), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1973-1974), and a Distinguished Fulbright Professorship (1980). In February 1977 he was elected as a member of the London Atheneum, and in May 1978 he was chosen as a UCLA Faculty Research Lecturer.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    Accessions Processed in 1988
    The collection documents the many facets of John S. Galbraith's professional life, including materials relating to his teaching, administration, writing, and scholarship. There are few materials relating to Galbraith's personal and family life, although there is much in the collection documenting his personal friendships with colleagues. Among other things, the collection illustrates the careful methodology employed by Galbraith in his research, and the correspondence reveals the warm personal interest he showed toward his students. Although there are some materials from the 1940s and early 1950s, the bulk of the collection dates from the late 1950s to the early 1980s.
    The CORRESPONDENCE series is arranged in two subseries: A) General Correspondence and B) Correspondence and Subject Files. The General Correspondence includes letters from many of Galbraith's colleagues among academic historians, including Robin Winks, Helen Manning, Leonard Thompson, Geoffrey Barraclough, Ross Livingston, Gerald Graham, and John Ward. Letters from many of Galbraith's doctoral students are also included.
    Of special interest are letters from Oliver Pollak during the 1970s. Pollak taught in South Africa, and he discussed in his letters the political problems which beset the region. Also of interest is an exchange, dated August-September 1978, between Galbraith and H.R. "Bob" Haldeman, former chief of staff to President Richard Nixon. One letter, called "The Haldeman Proposal," was written in August 1978 during Haldeman's incarceration at Lompoc. In the letter, Haldeman proposed to teach a course in the "Modern Presidency" at a UC campus. Subjects for the course would have included "White Collar Crime" and "The Federal Prison System."
    Also found in the CORRESPONDENCE are letters providing insights into the administration and activities of the University of California, especially into the University's sometimes rough and tumble politics. For example, professor Randy Wedding of UC Riverside wrote a multi-page letter to Galbraith in October of 1977. Wedding decried the Academic Senate's loss of power and outlined a plan to "scare the hell out of the president [David Saxon]." Another example is Galbraith's letter of August 1963 to UCLA chancellor Murphy, in which Galbraith discusses the process used to determine the "distinguished teacher awards."
    Other highlights of the General Correspondence include: a letter to UCSD administrator Patrick Ledden from Warner Liendenmann, dated December 11, 1979, stating that Galbraith accepted the UCSD chancellorship on the condition that the UCSD Library become one of the UC system's three major libraries; a letter from the chairman of the California Democratic Party, October 10, 1981, requesting Galbraith's help in drafting the party platform; and a memo of congratulation from UC president David Saxon on Galbraith's promotion to "above-scale" salary.
    The BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION includes a transcript of a detailed oral history interview. The interview, conducted by Harry Tuchmayer in 1985, covers many issues that arose during Galbraith's tenure as a professor of history and as chancellor at UCSD. Also included is a letter of recommendation from Galbraith's friend Gene Anderson.
    The RECOMMENDATIONS series is restricted.
    Accession Processed in 1994
    The accession processed in 1994 contains recent correspondence (1992-1993), several UCSD committee files, newspaper clippings regarding Angela Davis, and Galbraith's speech for the dedication of Galbraith Hall. The materials are arranged alphabetically.
    Accessions Processed in 1997
    The accessions processed in 1997 consist primarily of copies of journal articles written by John S. Galbraith between 1948 and 1989. A variety of American and international journals are represented. Additionally, materials include a few unpublished works, speeches, and course outlines, as well as some correspondence and newspaper clippings about Galbraith.
    The first series, PUBLISHED ARTICLES, comprises over half the bulk of the accessions and offers a large sample of the journal articles Galbraith published throughout his extensive career as a historian. The articles are arranged in alphabetical order.
    The SPEECHES series contains three speeches given between 1963 and 1979 pertaining to anti-imperialism, the importance of libraries and the role of the historian. The speeches are arranged in alphabetical order.
    The UNPUBLISHED WRITINGS series contains Galbraith's master's thesis and a copy of his memoirs.
    The fourth series, COURSE OUTLINES, holds lecture notes for two courses in European history.
    The final series, MISCELLANEOUS MATERIALS, contains a variety of items including newspaper clippings, correspondence, a program, and research notes from an unidentified project. The items are arranged in alphabetical order.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    Galbraith, John S. -- Archives
    University of California, San Diego -- Faculty -- Archival resources
    University of California, San Diego -- Archival resources
    University of California, San Diego. -- University Library -- Archival resources
    Libraries and education -- California
    Academic libraries -- California -- San Diego
    History, Modern -- Study and teaching
    Historians -- Biography
    Oral histories -- 1985.
    Photographic prints -- 20th Century.


    Pollak, Oliver B., -- correspondent
    Haldeman, H. R. -- (Harry R.), 1926- -- correspondent
    Winks, Robin W., -- correspondent
    Manning, Helen Taft, 1891-1987, -- correspondent
    Thompson, Leonard Monteath, -- correspondent
    Barraclough, Geoffrey, 1908- -- correspondent
    Livingston, Ross, -- correspondent
    Graham, Gerald Sandford, 1903- -- correspondent
    Tuchmayer, Harry, -- interviewer