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Finding Aid to the James Rolph, Jr. Papers
MS 1818  
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
The papers of James Rolph, Jr. include material from his five consecutive terms as San Francisco mayor from 1912-1931. Issues and events affecting the city that are reflected in the papers include: the Panama Pacific International Exposition (PPIE); World War I; the 1918 influenza epidemic; and business and labor relations. Also well represented are the citywide efforts, headed by Rolph, to rebuild the city's infrastructure following the 1906 earthquake and fire, including the establishment of municipal railway and water systems; construction projects including City Hall and the Civic Center; and regional transportation, including streets, highways, transbay crossings and the airport. The bulk of the collection consists of routine mayoral correspondence, including requests for letters of reference, permits, licenses, appointments, and employment as well as correspondence with city departments, state and federal agencies. Included are eight mayoral appointment books, a record book of election workers, and scrapbooks of clippings. Also contains campaign material from his mayoral elections and scrapbooks from Rolph's term as governor; minutes and financial records (1914-1927) from his companies, James Rolph and Company and Rolph Navigation and Coal Company; and family correspondence.
Background
James Rolph, Jr., known as "Sunny Jim", served as mayor of San Francisco from 1912 to 1931, resigning only to become governor of California for one term before his death in 1934. Born on August 23, 1869, in a home on Minna Street "South of the Slot," Rolph was the oldest of seven children. His father was from London and his mother from Edinburgh; they met on board ship coming to America and married when they reached San Francisco. Rolph attended public primary schools in San Francisco and graduated from Trinity School in 1888. The family lived near the intersection of 21st and Guerrero Streets in the Mission district during this time; an older neighbor, Matt I. Sullivan, befriended the young man and became his life-long advisor. Rolph started working while a still a student, selling newspapers and performing various odd jobs. After graduation he was employed by De Witt, Kittle & Co. for 12 years, where he learned the shipping business. Rolph's mother died when he was 20, and he helped raise his brothers and sisters (William, George, Ronald, Mildred, Elizabeth Jane, and Thomas) prior to marrying Miss Annie Marshall Reid, the daughter of a Mission district businessman, on June 26, 1900. Daughter Annette was born in 1901, followed by a son, James, in 1904, and daughter Georgina in 1905. Their home at 25th and San Jose served as the family headquarters until Rolph's death, although he also famously spent many nights in his office at City Hall.
Extent
Extent: 97 boxes, 4 oversize boxes, 34 volumes
(circa 69.0 linear feet)
Restrictions
All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Director of the Library and Archives, North Baker Research Library, California Historical Society, 678 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94105. Consent is given on behalf of the California Historical Society as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission from the copyright owner. Such permission must be obtained from the copyright owner.
Availability
Collection is open for research.