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Guide to the T. J. Kent papers, 1910-1993
BANC MSS 99/33 c  
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Table of contents What's This?
  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Scope and Content
  • Biographical Chronology
  • Scope and Content

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: T. J. Kent Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1910-1993
    Collection Number: BANC MSS 99/33 c
    Creator: Kent, T. J.
    Extent: Number of containers: 5 boxes, 1 oversize folder. Linear feet: 2
    Repository: The Bancroft Library.
    Berkeley, California 94720-6000
    Physical Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
    Abstract: The T.J. "Jack" Kent papers selectively cover a career in urban and regional planning that lasted over 50 years. The collection includes correspondence (primarily professional rather than personal), research notes, drafts of essays and talks, published books and articles, UC Berkeley course notes, and early records from Kent's work in the UC Berkeley department of City and Regional Planning (DCRP). The collection also contains newsletters, reports, and memoranda of the various government and civic planning organizations of which Kent was a member, including the Berkeley City Council, People for Open Space, the San Francisco Department of City Planning, and Telesis. Also includes a small amount of material on the University loyalty oath.
    Languages Represented: English

    Information for Researchers

    Access

    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to The Bancroft Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services. 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.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], T. J. Kent papers, BANC MSS 99/33 c, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Related Collections

    Title: Dorothy Ward Erskine Papers,
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 83/79 c
    Title: Telesis Group Archives,
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 99/48 c

    Material Cataloged Separately

    • One photograph has been transferred to University Archives in The Bancroft Library.

    Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information

    The T. J. Kent Papers were given to The Bancroft Library by Thomas "Jack" Kent on March 8, 1998.

    Scope and Content

    The T.J. "Jack" Kent papers selectively cover a career in urban and regional planning that lasted over 50 years. The collection includes correspondence (primarily professional rather than personal), research notes, drafts of essays and talks, published books and articles, UC Berkeley course notes, and early records from Kent's work in the UC Berkeley department of City and Regional Planning (DCRP). The collection also contains newsletters, reports, and memoranda of the various government and civic planning organizations of which Kent was a member, including the Berkeley City Council, People for Open Space, the San Francisco Department of City Planning, and Telesis. Also includes a small amount of material on the University loyalty oath.

    Biographical Chronology

    1917-1933: Thomas "Jack" Kent is born in Oakland on January 30, 1917 to Thomas and Belinda Kent. His family moves to San Francisco where father is a practicing architect. Kent attends Commodore Sloat Grammar School and Lowell High School.
    1934-1938: Earns a B.A. in Architecture at U.C. Berkeley. While on campus, he wins a school medal for professional leadership, is chair of the Campus Judicial Committee, a member of the Stiles Hall Student Cabinet and captain of the first Cal championship water polo team.
    1938-1939: Studies with Lewis Mumford while in Europe on a traveling fellowship sponsored by his fraternity, Beta Theta Pi.
    1939: Founding member of Telesis, an organization of young urban planners dedicated to making the Bay Area a more livable and healthier environment.
    1939: Begins friendship with Dorothy Ward Erskine, a citizen activist, conservationist and Telesis supporter. Over the next forty years, they work together in several organizations, including People for Open Space.
    1939-1940: Junior planning assistant, Marin County Planning Commission.
    1940: First Telesis exhibit, "A Space for Living," opens at the San Francisco Museum of Art.
    1940-1941: Works as a planning assistant in the office of I. S. Shattuck, a traffic and planning consultant in Oakland, California.
    1940-1942: Assistant planning technician, Pacific Southwest Regional Office of the National Resources Planning Board.
    1941: Marries Mary Chace Tolman, the daughter of U.C. Berkeley Professor Edward Tolman and Kathleen Tolman.
    1942-1943: Earns the Master of City Planning degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
    1942-1949: Three sons are born.
    1943: Associate City Planner, San Francisco City Planning Commission.
    1943-1945: Is drafted into the United States Army. He serves in Washington, D.C.
    1945-1946: In September, 1945, Kent is assigned to the Office of Military Government for Berlin, where he remains until March, 1946.
    1946-1948: Director of City Planning for San Francisco under Mayor Roger D. Lapham.
    1948-1974: Founding professor of the U.C. Berkeley Department of City and Regional Planning. Chairs the department until 1960 and continues as a professor until 1974.
    1948-1957: Member of the Berkeley City Planning Commission.
    1949-1955: Active member of faculty group opposing the U.C. Loyalty Oath.
    1950: Telesis presents its second exhibit, "A Regional Planning for the Next Million People," at the San Francisco Museum of Art.
    1952: Helps organize the Berkeley Grassrooters, an early and subsequently influential Democratic Club.
    1955: One of the principal authors of Berkeley's first master plan.
    1957-1966: Elected member of the Berkeley City Council.
    1958: One of the founders of People for Open Space, a Bay Area citizens' regional planning and conservation group. (At the time, the organization was called Citizens for Regional Recreation and Parks.)
    1961: One of the leaders of Berkeley City Council's first liberal Democratic majority.
    1961: Helps organize the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG).
    1962: Leader on the City Council for the Berkeley Fair Housing Ordinance and the Save the Bay campaign.
    1963: City and Regional Planning for the Metropolitan San Francisco Bay Area is published.
    1964: Kent's influential text, The Urban General Plan, is published.
    1965: Chair of the newly created U.C. Berkeley Academic Senate Committee on Senate Policy. Presented "A State of the Campus" message to the Academic Senate in October 1965.
    1966-1968: Serves as Development Coordinator of San Francisco under Mayor John Shelley.
    1969-1970: President of the American Society of Planning Officials.
    1970: Publication of an essay, "Open Space for the San Francisco Bay Area: Organizing to Guide Metropolitan Growth."
    1972-1974: Member of the Berkeley Charter Review Committee.
    1974: Becomes Professor Emeritus of the U.C. Berkeley Department of City and Regional Planning and receives U.C.'s Berkeley Citation.
    1974-1978: President of People for Open Space.
    1974-1997: Active in the affairs of the U.C. Berkeley Department of City and Regional Planning and in Berkeley civic and political activities.
    1975: Receives the National Gold Medal Award of the American Society of Planning Officials.
    1978: Initiates the writing of and contributes an essay to Experiment and Change in Berkeley: Essays on City Politics, 1950-75.
    1983: Is honored by People for Open Space for his 25 years of involvement with that group.
    1989: Receives the Historic Planning Landmarks Award of the California Chapter of the American Planning Association.
    1998: Kent dies on April 26 of heart failure and a protracted struggle with Alzheimer's disease.

    Scope and Content

    The T. J. "Jack" Kent papers selectively cover a career in urban and regional planning that lasted over 50 years. The collection includes correspondence (primarily professional rather than personal in nature), research notes, drafts of essays and talks, published books and articles, U.C. Berkeley course notes and early records from Kent's work in the Berkeley Department of City and Regional Planning (DCRP). The collection also contains newsletters, reports and memoranda of the various government and civic planning organizations of which Kent was a member, including the Berkeley City Council, People for Open Space, the San Francisco Department of City Planning and Telesis.
    The greater part of the collection is divided between Kent's research notes, essay outlines and drafts and official institutional records. Wherever possible, these papers have been separated into series and folders by subject. The subject files, which comprise Series 1-4, also contain the bulk of Kent's correspondence and clippings. Biographical writings, including resumes and oral histories, along with awards and miscellaneous writings, are in Series 5. Correspondence and clippings that would not fit into the subject files were separated into Series 6 and 7, respectively.
    Woven through the collection are examples of how Kent operated in his roles as city planner, university professor and administrator, city councilman and community activist. In Series 1, two folders titled "The Future of the San Francisco Bay Area" contain outlines and drafts showing the steps Kent took to prepare a public presentation. In the U.C. Berkeley records of Series 2, Kent's strategies for working with the administration and building a department can be seen. Also in Series 2, his attitude toward students is illuminated through clippings and correspondence concerning his work with master's degree candidate Kathleen Van Velsor in the late 1980s. In Series 4, a sequence of folders on urban planning in Copenhagen provides insight into his approach to research and essay writing. And although personal correspondence is lacking, his relationship with friends and coworkers becomes a little clearer in Series 5, which contains drafts of letters written for a 1983 T. J. Kent Testimonial Dinner, hosted by Berkeley Citizens' Action.
    Despite these examples, however, entire areas of Kent's work and life are barely represented: his influential 1964 text, The Urban General Plan, his involvement with the Bay Area Rapid Transit District, his Presidency of the American Society of Planning Officials (1969-1970), and his term as president of the regional planning and conservation organization, People for Open Space (1974-78), are barely mentioned. However, Kent's oral history, created through the Center for Environmental Design Research of the College of Environmental Design and found in Series 5, fills in some of these gaps by providing Kent's perspective on his own achievements and on institutions involved in Bay Area city and regional planning.