Information for Researchers
Scope and Content
Collection Title: Edgar F. Kaiser Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1886-1981
Collection Number: BANC MSS
Kaiser, Edgar F. (Edgar Fosburgh), 1908-1981
Number of containers: 500 cartons, 32 volumes, 9 oversize folders, 1 box
Linear feet: circa 600
The Bancroft Library
Berkeley, California 94720-6000
Abstract: The bulk of the papers were transferred to The Bancroft
Library by Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corp. and consist primarily of corporate
files from Kaiser's tenure as president and chairman of the board of Kaiser
Industries Corporation. Also included are records from his earlier career as vice
president and general manager of Oregon Shipbuilding Corp. and Kaiser Company, Inc.,
followed by those from his tenure as president of Kaiser Motors Corp. and general
manager of Kaiser-Frazer Corporation's automobile plant at Willow Run, Mich. Also
included are personal papers given by Kaiser's family.
Physical Location: For current information on the location of these
materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
Information for Researchers
Collection is open for research.
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.
[Identification of item], Edgar F. Kaiser papers, BANC MSS 85/61 c, The Bancroft
Library, University of California, Berkeley.
Title: Henry J. Kaiser Papers,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 83/42 c
Title: Eugene E. Trefethen, Jr. Papers,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 87/35 c
Title: Henry J. Kaiser, Jr. Papers,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 88/205 c
Title: Henry J. Kaiser Scrapbooks -- Hawaii activities, 1955-1956,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 85/155 cp
Title: Kaiser Foundation Hospitals -- Hawaii Region Collection, 1958-1985,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 87/131 cp
Title: Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 91/12 c
- Editions of
The Bosn's Whistle from the Oregon, Swan's
Island, and Vancouver shipyards, along with editions of
from the Vancouver shipyard, have been transferred to the
to the book collection of The Bancroft Library.
- Photographs have been transferred to Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft
- Videotapes have been transferred to the Microforms Division of The
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in
the library's online public access catalog.
Kaiser, Edgar F. (Edgar
Trefethen, Eugene E.
(Eugene Edgar), 1909-
Henry J. Kaiser Company
The Edgar F. Kaiser Papers were given to The Bancroft Library by the Kaiser
Aluminum and Chemical Corporation, Nina M. Kaiser, and Edgar F. Kaiser, Jr., in
the years 1985 through 1987.
Processed by Lauren Lassleben, Project Archivist; JoLynn Subramanian, Assistant
||Edgar Fosburgh Kaiser born in Spokane, Washington, on July 29, the first
child of Henry John and Bessie Fosburgh Kaiser. Attended grammar school in
Seattle, Washington and began working on his father's road paving projects
at age 12. Attended high school in Oakland, California.
||Attended University of California, Berkeley, majoring in economics, but
left one semester short of graduation to become superintendent on a natural
gas pipeline project in Kansas and Oklahoma.
||Managed pipeline projects in Arizona, New Mexico, Mexico, and
||Married Dorothy Sue Mead of Washington, D.C., on August 24.
||Started as shovel foreman and became superintendent of canyon excavation
for Six Companies, Inc., at Hoover (Boulder) Dam.
||Named administrative manager of Columbia Construction Company's main
spillway at Bonneville Dam (on the Columbia River).
||Appointed project manager of the Grand Coulee Dam project in Washington
by Consolidated Builders, Inc. Brought Dr. Sidney R. Garfield there to
establish a comprehensive prepaid medical care program for workers and their
families, the beginning of the Kaiser Health Plan, the world's first prepaid
health maintenance organization.
||Named vice president and general manager of Oregon Shipbuilding
Corporation and Kaiser Company, Inc., with shipyards at Portland, Vancouver,
and Swan Island. Kaiser again sponsored a prepaid health plan for shipyard
workers, under the direction of Dr. Garfield, which opened to the general
public in 1945.
||Appointed general manager of Kaiser-Frazer Corporation automobile plant
at Willow Run, Michigan and elected president of Kaiser Motors
||Moved to the Oakland, California headquarters of the Kaiser Companies as
the organization expanded, to share management responsibilities with his
father, Henry J. Kaiser.
||Elected president of Kaiser Industries Corporation, the parent company,
with his father as chairman of the board and his younger brother, Henry J.
Kaiser, Jr., as vice president.
||Negotiated with labor attorney Arthur Goldberg for a settlement with
United Steelworkers Union at Kaiser Steel's Fontana plant during the
national steel strike. Helped create the Long Range Sharing Plan at the
||Served President John F. Kennedy as a member of the Missile Sites Labor
Commission, the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity, and
as an incorporator of the Communications Satellite Corporation in
||Henry J. Kaiser, Jr. died in Oakland.
||Named National Chairman of United Nations Day by President Lyndon
||Selected by President Lyndon Johnson to head the President's Committee on
Urban Housing, and named chairman of the board of incorporators of the
National Corporation for Housing Partnerships.
||Henry J. Kaiser died in Honolulu on August 24.
||Elected chairman of the board of Kaiser Industries Corporation, head
of all operating divisions, subsidiaries and affiliated companies
(including Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation, Kaiser Steel
Corporation, Kaiser Cement and Gypsum Corporation, Kaiser Foundation
Health Plan, Inc., and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals), and a trustee of
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.
||Named Alumnus of the Year and awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane
Letters degree by the University of California, Berkeley.
||Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Johnson for
his contributions to the development of low and moderate income
||Elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
||Sue Mead Kaiser died in Moscow on June 24.
||Appointed by President Gerald Ford to the President's Advisory
Committee on Refugees.
||Married Nina McCormick, his long-time executive secretary, on
||Oversaw the voluntary liquidation of Kaiser Industries
||Designated Chairman Emeritus and honorary director of Kaiser Aluminum and
Chemical Corporation and Kaiser Cement Corporation in 1978; of Kaiser Steel
Corporation in 1979; and of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., and Kaiser
Foundation Hospitals in 1980.
||Died at Moffitt Hospital in San Francisco, California, on December
Scope and Content
The bulk of the Edgar F. Kaiser Papers were transferred to The Bancroft Library by
Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation and consist primarily of corporate files
from Mr. Kaiser's tenure as president and chairman of the board of Kaiser Industries
Corporation. Also included are records from his earlier career as vice president and
general manager of Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation and Kaiser Company, Inc.,
followed by those from his tenure as president of Kaiser Motors Corporation and
general manager of Kaiser-Frazer Corporation's automobile plant at Willow Run,
Michigan. The collection was extremely well organized and, for the most part,
original order was retained. Corporate files were supplemented by papers given by
Kaiser's family for inclusion in Series 1: Personal Papers.
The sheer volume of the collection is a testament to the vast and complex nature of
the Kaiser family's business undertakings. When considered in conjunction with the
papers of his father, Henry J. Kaiser, which are also housed in The Bancroft
Library, a fascinating picture emerges of the birth, growth, and eventual decline of
one of the West's great 20th-century family business empires.
Edgar F. Kaiser inherited an industrial empire that at one time included over 100
Kaiser Companies and affiliates spread around the globe. After an early
apprenticeship on some of the major western United States public works projects of
the Depression years, Edgar Kaiser supervised Kaiser's shipbuilding operations in
the Pacific Northwest during World War II, and then presided over an unsuccessful
automobile manufacturing venture in Michigan in the decade following the war. As
president and, later, chairman of the board, Edgar Kaiser led the Kaiser affiliated
companies through an unprecedented era of growth during the 1960s, followed by a
period of declining profits in the 1970s. This decade culminated in the sale of
several companies, a decline in international projects, and in the voluntary
liquidation of Kaiser Industries Corporation, the holding company, in 1977.
In his writings, interviews and speeches, Kaiser often reflected on the
responsibility of American business, both at home and abroad; on the founding and
growth of the Kaiser Companies; on his father's charismatic leadership style; and on
his own role as advisor to American presidents in such areas as equal employment
opportunity, urban housing, and satellite communications.
The collection provides rich source material for the study of the growth of the
Kaiser Permanente Foundation and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, a unique prepaid
health plan begun by Edgar Kaiser at the remote Grand Coulee Dam construction site
in the late 1930s, and the post-war industrialization of the West, which was given
impetus by the Kaiser-built shipyards, the Kaiser Steel plant at Fontana,
California, and the manufacturing of building materials such as gypsum and cement,
needed for the post-war housing boom in California. Also documented are related
subjects such as urban renewal, affirmative action, on-the-job training, public
transit, and corporate sponsorship for the arts in the San Francisco Bay Area and on
a national scale, as well as the export of Kaiser technology to Pacific rim, Latin
American, and African countries.