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Register of the Commissioner Bradford M. Crittenden Collection
MS 238  
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Commissioner Bradford M. Crittenden Collection
    Collection number: MS 238
    Creator: Crittenden, Bradford M.
    Extent: 4 boxes
    Repository: University of the Pacific. Library. Holt-Atherton Department of Special Collections
    Stockton, CA 95211
    Shelf location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the library's online catalog.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    The Crittenden Collection was given to Holt-Atherton Special Collections in 1988 by the Commissioner's children, Thomas Crittenden and Barbara Crittenden Phillips.


    Collection is open for research.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Commissioner Bradford M. Crittenden Collection, MS 238, Holt-Atherton Department of Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library


    Bradford MacChesney Crittenden was born in San Jose, California on May 9, 1912. His father, later State Senator Bradford S. Crittenden (1876-1952), was an attorney. His mother, Edith MacChesney Crittenden (1876 -1952), a former music instructor at the College of the Pacific, was related to the late George Kasson, a major landholder in the Tracy area.
    The family moved to Tracy in 1915, where Crittenden attended school until his father moved the family to Stockton upon his election to the State Assembly in 1920. Crittenden completed his education in the latter city, graduating from Stockton High School in 1930. Crittenden received a B.A. from the College of the Pacific in 1934. He then pursued graduate study at the Hastings College of Law in San Francisco, from which institution he received a J. D. Degree.
    Crittenden began law practice with his father's Stockton firm of Crittenden and Hench in 1936. He became a member of the bar of the State Supreme Court and the U. S. Supreme Court. He joined the staff of the San Joaquin County District Attorney's Office in 1949, serving there, until 1959 both as an Assistant District Attorney and as District Attorney. In this position, Crittenden was particularly interested in the prosecution of narcotics cases. The Collection contains some material on these and other litigations and business of the District Attorney's office during Crittenden's tenure there.
    In 1959, Crittenden was appointed Commissioner of the California Highway Patrol by newly-elected Governor Edmund G. "Pat" Brown. Crittenden held this office until 1967. During his term in office, California was beset by a period of social unrest that climaxed in the Watts Riots of August, 1965 and the University of California Vietnam Day Demonstrations of October, 1965. Crittenden, as head of the State's largest law enforcement agency, was deeply involved in the enforcement response to these events. The Collection contains substantial material relating to the election year 1966, conservatives attacked the CHP as corrupt, noting that the agency had purchased all of its vehicles from the same Sacramento auto dealership for several years. The CHP reaction to these charges is well-documented in Crittenden's papers. The Commissioner resigned on Ronald Reagan's assumption of the Governorship in January, 1967.
    In July of that same year, Crittenden assumed the Associate Directorship of the National Highway Safety Bureau's Traffic Safety Programs in Washington D.C. He held this position until 1970 when he became Regional Advisor for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Region IX, with Headquarters in San Francisco. Crittenden held this post until he retired to Stockton in 1978. The Collection contains some material from this period. Of greatest interest are probably Crittenden's speeches based upon his experiences as California Highway Patrol Commissioner.
    Crittenden owned several San Joaquin Valley farms. The collection contains substantial material pertaining to land leasing, farm operations, and related matters, between the years 1953 and 1970.
    Following his retirement, Crittenden returned to Stockton, where he became active in the Concerned Citizens' Committee of San Joaquin County. In 1979, this group launched a drive to initiate a constitutional convention that would provide the State with "tougher" law enforcement provisions and a "tougher" judiciary.
    Commissioner Crittenden married twice. His first wife, Virginia Cookingham, whom he married in 1934, died in 1973. They had two children, a son, Thomas, and a daughter, Barbara. Crittenden married Helen Harney of Stockton in 1974. He died January 29, 1982.