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Guide to the Francis Valentine Keesling Papers, 1906-1957
Special Collections M0100  
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Access Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Francis Valentine Keesling Papers,
    Date: 1906-1957
    Collection number: Special Collections M0100
    Creator: Francis Valentine Keesling
    Extent: 33 linear ft.
    Repository: Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information

    Access Restrictions


    Publication Rights

    Property rights reside with the repository. Literary rights reside with the creators of the documents or their heirs. To obtain permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Public Services Librarian of the Dept. of Special Collections.


    Gift of Mr. Keesling, 1953 and 1957

    Preferred Citation:

    [Identification of item] Francis Valentine Keesling Papers, M0100, Dept. of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.


    1877, Feb. 17 born San Jose, Calif.; son of Francis Marion and Mary (Nunez) Keesling.
    1898 A.B. Stanford. First president of class of '98, editor-in-chief '98 Quad, baseball manager for season of '98. Member of Philolexian Literary Society, Sigma Nu fraternity, Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity, and Skull and Snakes Honor Society.
    1898 admitted to California Bar, practiced in San Francisco (retired 1953), July - entered law office of Crothers and Crothers (George E. and Thomas G.) - survey legislative candidates for '98 for adoption of amendment to state constitution permitting exemption of such foundation trusts as Stanford from taxation (passed 1901).
    1901-1909 member National Guard of California, retired as major. Special board which re-wrote Calif. Military law to conform to federal; commanding artillery batallion San Francisco fire 1906.
    1903, Nov. 19 married Haidee Grau - 4 children
    1906-1908 regent Sigma Nu fraternity
    1908-1909 attorney for General John A. Koster, auditor of San Francisco.
    1910 Republican candidate for lieutenant-governor of California
    1910-1938 vice-president and general counsel West Coast Life Insurance Co.
    1914 Republican candidate for governor of California
    1914-1916 chairman Republican State Central Committee of California
    1915-1916 chairman legal section, American Life Convention
    1916 & 1924 delegate to Republican National Convention
    1917 Mason 33 - Grand Master of California
    1917-1921 participated in every Liberty Loan Drive during World War I in executive capacity. On general executive committee and other committees of Community Chest
    1919 & 1929-1930 president Stanford Alumni Association
    1927-1928 chairman executive committee Association of Life Insurance Counsel
    1928-1929 governor Bar Association of San Francisco
    1928-1929 member committee of Bar examiners State Bar of California
    1929-1930 board of governors State Bar of California
    1929-1937 a director of Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District and chairman of building committee
    1929-1931 vice-president Association of Life Insurance Counsel
    1930 member San Francisco Board of Freeholders and chairman of drafting committee which wrote the 1931 Charter of the city and county, conducted campaign which resulted in its adoption.
    1930-1933 member executive committee American Life Convention
    1931-1933 president Association of Life Insurance Counsel
    1931-1933 president Bar Association of San Francisco
    1932-1933 president Stanford Law Society
    1933-1934 president American Life Convention
    1936-1942 president San Francisco Y.M.C.A.
    1936-1942 chairman California Statewide Committee on Reorganization of State Government (or on Taxation and Cost of Government) known as the Interim Committee of 25
    1936-1942 member board of governors Stanford Associates
    1938-1949 president and director West Coast Life Insurance Co. and general counsel
    1941-1942 special assistant to Attorney General of the United States Hearing officer of Northern District of California on appeals of conscientious objectors
    1941-1942 organized U.S.O. Council in San Francisco, first chairman
    1941 or -42 to 1947 member council National Municipal League
    1941 quarterly chairman Commonwealth Club (S.F.)
    1942 board of directors San Francisco Y.M.C.A.
    1942-1946 chairman Civilian Council for Officer Procurement United States Navy
    1942-1947 president California Insurance Federation
    1943 Grand Treasurer Masons Grand Lodge, California
    1943 chairman of campaign committee - Roger Lapham for mayor of San Francisco
    1943-1947 member board of governors Commonwealth Club
    1944-1947 chairman San Francisco Charter Revision Committee
    1945-1946 director San Francisco Bay Area Council, chairman executive committee
    1946-1947 member executive committee San Francisco Bay Area Council
    1946- member State (California) Committee on Intergovernmental
    1947 executive committee Commonwealth Club
    1949-1953 chairman of the board West Coast Life Insurance Co.
    1949 director Better Business Bureau of San Francisco
    1963, September 25 died.

    Scope and Content

    The Keesling Papers consist of correspondence, diaries, notebooks, drafts of speeches and articles, reports, minutes of meetings, newspaper and magazine clippings, maps and blueprints, circular and form letters, political flyers, etc., pamphlets, annotated government documents, promotional brochures, miscellaneous printed material, and some financial and legal papers. They span the years 1906-1957, though very little material is found after 1953. The scope of the subject matter is tremendous. The political series contains a number of topics of particular interest. Most notable perhaps is that the material from 1910-1920 on local, state (California), and national Republican political campaigns. Keesling was a "regular" Republican, one of the few whose papers are extant, and greatly opposed to Hiram Johnson and the Progressives. The active part played by Keesling in California politics at this time and the scarcity of the original material by those holding similar views make this collection quite unique. The picture of this split in the California Republican party has been very one-sided in favor of the Progressives simply because of the lack of material supporting the opposition. In addition to the Hughes campaign, the Coolidge, Hoover, Willkie, Dewey, and Eisenhower Presidential campaigns are also covered. The many state and local campaigns, their candidates and issues, are represented by even more material. Other papers refer to world affairs, foreign policy, war, Communism and related movements, patriotic organizations, labor, legal matters, insurance business, government and governmental procedures, economic affairs, education and social and charitable organizations. The second series relates to the San Francisco Charter of 1931. This material is quite complete and includes Keesling's booklet on the subject and some later papers on amendments and revision. The Interim Committee of Twenty five on State Reorganization, the third series, is also a rich research source. The fourth series is on the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District and the construction of the bridge. This is quite a complete account especially for the Building Committee from 1929 to 1937. Some, but not all, of this material was used as the basis for a doctoral dissertation in 1958. The last two series are quite small. One recounts the San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906 through newspaper clippings and Keesling's orders and report as an officer of the National Guard and active participant in rescue and patrol work. The other contains miscellaneous material on or related to Stanford University. This collection, in addition to being of general historical interest, would seem to form a very solid base for a good biography of Keesling. It covers almost all of his activities and interests within the time span of the papers. His very frank and uninhibited correspondence reveals his personality and opinions very clearly. Of the correspondents in these papers, many number among the politically and socially prominent on local, state and national levels. Others, not so well known, are important to this collection because of the content and size of their correspondence.

    Access Terms

    Agnew, Frank J.
    Ammann, Othmar Hermann, 1879-1965.
    Arnold, Ralph, 1875-
    Beek, Joseph A.
    Booth, Willis H., 1874-
    Boynton, Albert E.
    Brown, Edmund G. (Edmund Gerald), 1905-
    Butler, Nicholas Murray, 1862-1947.
    Carrere, John F.
    Clark, Elmer Talmadge, 1886-
    Coolidge, Dane, 1873-1940
    Drury, Aubrey, 1891-1959.
    Ferguson, Howard, 1908-
    Flint, Motley H.
    Griffenhagen, Edwin Oscar, 1886-
    Halleck, Charles A., 1900-
    Hanna, Byron C., 1887-
    Hays, Will H., 1879-
    Hodges, Lauder.
    Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964.
    Hughes, Charles Evans, 1862-1948.
    Johnson, Charles G., 1880-
    Johnson, Hiram, 1866-1945.
    Jordan, Frank C., 1860-
    Kahn, Julius, 1861-1924.
    Keesling, Francis V. (Francis Valentine), 1877-1963.
    Kenny, Robert Walker, 1901-
    Kirkwood, Marion Rice, 1887-
    Knight, Goodwin J. (Goodwin Jess), 1896-1970.
    Knowland, Joseph Russell, 1873-
    Knowland, William F., 1908-
    Koster, Frederick J., 1868-
    Kuchel, Thomas H., 1910-
    Leavey, H. Harold, 1906-
    Marshall, George C. (George Catlett), 1880-1959.
    Martin, Irving.
    Martin, Joseph W., 1884-
    Merriam, Frank Finley, 1865-
    Neylan, John Francis, 1885-1960.
    Olson, Culbert Levy, 1876-
    O'Toole, John J.
    Page, Charles R.
    Requa, Mark Lawrence, 1866-1937.
    Riley, Ray L., 1874-
    Robinson, Elmer E., 1894-1982.
    Rolph, James.
    Searls, Robert M.
    Shelley, John F., 1905-
    Short, Frank H. (Frank Hamilton), 1862-1920.
    Sinclair, Upton, 1878-1968.
    Smith, Paul Clifford.
    Strauss, Joseph Baermann, 1870-1938.
    Thompson, Gordon.
    Uhl, Adolph.
    Warren, Earl, 1891-1974.
    Weinberger, Caspar W.
    Welch, Richard Joseph, 1869-1949.
    Wilbur, Ray Lyman, 1875-1949.
    Willis, Bailey, 1857-1949.
    Wilkie, Wendell L. (Wendell Lewis), 1892-1944.
    Works, John Downey, 1847-1928.
    American Life Convention.
    Committee for Constitutional Government.
    Griffenhagen and Associates.
    Republican Party.
    Sigma Nu Fraternity.
    Stanford University.
    State Bar of California.
    Golden Gate Bridge (Calif.)
    California--Politics and government--1850-1950.
    San Francisco (Calif.)--Earthquake, 1906.