Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Guayule Rubber Industry in Salinas, California, ca. 1942
BANC PIC 1962.006--fALB  
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (139.53 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Background
  • Scope and Content

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Guayule Rubber Industry in Salinas, California
    Collection Number: BANC PIC 1962.006--fALB
    Extent: 1 album (44 photographic prints) ; 17 x 34 cm. ; ephemera 44 digital objects
    Repository: The Bancroft Library. University of California, Berkeley.
    Berkeley, California 94720-6000
    Languages Represented: English

    Information for Researchers


    Collection is stored off-site. Advance notice required for use.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to The Bancroft Library. All requests for permission to publish photographs must be submitted in writing to the Curator of Pictorial Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library 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.
    Copyright restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Guayule Rubber Industry in Salinas, California, BANC PIC 1962.006--fALB, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Digital Representations Available

    Digital representations of selected original pictorial materials are available in the list of materials below. Digital image files were prepared from selected Library originals by the Library Photographic Service. Library originals were copied onto 35mm color transparency film; the film was scanned and transferred to Kodak Photo CD (by Custom Process); and the Photo CD files were color-corrected and saved in JFIF (JPEG) format for use as viewing files.

    Related Collections

    Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS C-B 834:
    Title: Sheridan Downey Papers
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC PIC 1981.076--PIC:
    Title: California Park and Recreation Areas, and Other Western Views, ca. 1930-ca. 1949

    Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information

    Transferred from the Sheridan Downey papers (BANC MSS C-B 834).


    Extraction of rubber from guayule plants escalated in the United States as a consequence of the Second World War. During World War II, Americans found themselves lacking in rubber supplies, as Japan controlled 90% of the world's rubber supply and American-made synthetic rubber proved inferior to the natural product. As early as 1907, experiments by the Intercontinental Rubber Company were conducted on guayule, a Mexican desert shrub which contained 20% pure rubber that lent itself to harvesting. The International Rubber Company soon began to breed the plant to produce double that amount of rubber. After harvesting, the plant was sent to a mill for production, where it was compressed into molds for shipment.
    The Salinas Valley was host to commercial operations on a large scale, begun in 1926 by the Intercontinental Rubber Company. Eight thousand acres of guayule were under cultivation and up to five tons of guayule rubber were turned out daily. After a paper published by Intercontinental Rubber's vice president, Dr. David Spence, outlined how the United States could not become dependent on foreign supplies, the War Department sent two majors (one of whom was Dwight D. Eisenhower) to investigate the Salinas operation. After the outbreak of hostilities with Japan, the federal government passed the Emergency Rubber Project Act in 1942 and took over Intercontinental's operations in Salinas, creating the Guayule Rubber Project, under the direction of the United States Forest Service. Nurseries were established for the Salinas plant near Bakersfield, Oceanside, and Indio, California and in New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas. By 1944, 32,000 acres were devoted to the growing of guayule.
    The end of World War II and the improvement of synthetic rubber meant the end of the guayule project in the Salinas Valley. After 1945 the Salinas land was turned over to the production of other crops.
    (Source: Verardo, Jennie Dennis, and Denzil Verardo. The Salinas Valley : an Illustrated History. Northridge, CA: Windsor Publications, 1989.)

    Scope and Content

    This collection consists of an album of 44 photographic prints, plus ephemera, of the guayule rubber industry in Salinas, California, circa 1942. The photographer is unknown. Included in the photographs are images of workers planting, harvesting and manufacturing the guayule; views of agricultural equipment; guayule fields; guayule plants; mills and mill machinery at Salinas; and Senator Sheridan Downey, Major Evan W. Kelley of the U.S. Forest Service, rubber chemist Dr. David Spence, and members of the "Truman Committee," which investigated Salinas' guayule industry.
    The ephemera consists of three items: a letter from the Salinas Chamber of Commerce to Senator Sheridan Downey, sheets of information on guayule rubber, and another letter from the Salinas Chamber of Commerce to the Truman Committee of the Senate. The first letter is one page, to Senator Sheridan Downey from Fred S. McCargar of the Salinas Chamber of Commerce, introducing the album as a scrapbook of the development of the guayule project in Salinas. Following it are five sheets of information, in the form of questions and answers, about the planting, harvesting, and production of rubber from the guayule plant. The last segment is a four-page letter, again from McCargar, to the Truman Committee of the Senate, outlining the production of guayule rubber before and after the government took control of the Salinas operations on March 5, 1942.
    This collection was put together with the cooperation of the Salinas Chamber of Commerce, the United States Forest Service, and the Intercontinental Rubber Company. Typewritten captions are pasted below the photographs, and are reprinted in the container listing.