MS 104 Pioneer Society of San Diego County Records

Summary Information

San Diego History Center Document Collection
Pioneer Society of San Diego County.
Pioneer Society of San Diego County Records
MS 104
Date [inclusive]
2.75 Linear feet (6 boxes)
This collection contains records of the Pioneer Society of San Diego County, including documents related to administration, finances, membership, accessions, and events. It also contains original correspondence to and from members of the Society.

Preferred Citation

Pioneer Society of San Diego County Records, MS 104, San Diego History Center Document Collection, San Diego, CA.

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Biographical / Historical Notes

The Pioneer Society of San Diego County was organized on May 31, 1895, and was originally called “The Ladies’ Pioneer Society of San Diego.” One of its purposes, as stated in the Bylaws, was “to collect, record, and preserve the history of the State of California, and more especially the history and traditions of the City and County of San Diego, and incidents connected therewith.” Mrs. Flora Kimball and Hattie Phillips were the first president and secretary, respectively. Membership was limited to those persons who came to California before January 1, 1880, with extension of privileges to their descendants and to others who had shown an interest in the objects of the society. Originally all members were women, but in 1905 men were given honorary memberships. Honorary members included such figures as General John J. Pershing, Winifred Davidson, and John F. Forward. A 1908 letter from John G. Capron states that the symbol of the society was an evergreen sprig. The society held one open meeting and several closed meetings per year that featured talks on local history by a variety of guests, introduced people important in politics and society, and presented local music talents as well as entertainment and refreshments.

At the time of the local Panama-California Exposition in 1915-1916, the Society began to collect papers and articles for a historical exhibit. The collection steadily grew and on July 16, 1930 was officially transferred to the Junipero Serra Museum, home of the San Diego Historical Society. The Pioneer Society continued as an active local organization until the early 1980s.

Earlier attempts to form a Pioneer Society in 1872 and 1888 were unsuccessful despite the involvement of such important San Diego figures as William Winder, W.B. Couts, Jose Estudillo, John G. Capron, Ephraim W. Morse, and Douglas Gunn.

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Scope and Content

This collection contains the Pioneer Society of San Diego County’s records dating from 1898 to 1987. There are detailed records of administrative proceedings, including original and later versions of the society’s constitution and bylaws, handwritten records of Society minutes, as well as annual reports from the Society President and Treasurer. It also contains detailed membership records including annual handwritten logs of members, dues paid, their participation in certain events, logs of member deaths and their obituaries, in addition to several handwritten autobiographies and biographies of the earlier female members of the Society. There is detailed information on the Society’s financial administration, as well as several lists and inventories of the items in the Society’s historical collection. Original correspondence pertaining to the accession of items, membership, administrative and financial issues are also part of the collection. Of specific interest are several documents related to the Panama-California Exposition of 1915 and 1916, including two original gold medal award certificates presented to the Pioneer Society for their historical exhibit at the fair.

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This collection is arranged in five series:

Series I: Administrative

Series II: Membership

Series III: Financial

Series IV: Accession Records

Series V: Events

Within each series, items are arranged by subject.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

San Diego History Center Document Collection June 14, 2011

1649 El Prado, Suite 3
San Diego, CA, 92101

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The San Diego History Center (SDHC) holds the copyright to any unpublished materials. SDHC Library regulations do apply.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number 310414.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Katrina White on June 14, 2011.

Collection processed as part of grant project supported by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) with generous funding from The Andrew Mellon Foundation.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Daughters of the Mormon Battalion.
  • Historical Society of Southern California.
  • Junipero Serra Museum.
  • Panama-California Exposition (1915 : San Diego, Calif.).
  • Panama-California International Exposition (1916 : San Diego, Calif.).
  • Pioneer Society of San Diego County.
  • San Diego Historical Society.
  • San Diego Mission.
  • San Diego Natural History Museum.

Geographic Name(s)

  • Aurora Heights
  • Balboa Park (San Diego, Calif.)
  • San Diego (Calif.)

Personal Name(s)

  • Allen, Margaret V.
  • Ames, John Judson
  • Bailey, Lela A.
  • Capron, John G.
  • Cleveland, David
  • Coy, Owen Cochran, 1884-1952
  • Davidson, John
  • Davidson, Winifred
  • Farnsworth, Julia P.M.
  • Fenton, Henry G.
  • Forward, John F.
  • Guinn, J. M. (James Miller), 1834-1918
  • Hewitt, Edgar L.
  • Hudson, Millard F.
  • Kimball, Flora
  • Morse, Ephraim W.
  • Morse, Mary E.
  • Pershing, John J. (John Joseph), 1860-1948
  • Phillips, Hattie
  • Schiller, Bertha
  • Sherman, Augusta J.
  • Siebein, Lillie C.
  • Sloane, Frances
  • Steadman, M. A.
  • Verlasque, Louise


  • History — Societies, etc.
  • Local history
  • Societies — History, organization, etc.
  • Women — Societies and clubs

Subject Uniform Title(s)

  • San Diego Herald
  • San Diego Union

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Collection Inventory

 Series I:  Administrative

Constitution, By-Laws, and Articles of Incorporation, 1905-1938


Articles of Incorporation certification by State of California, March 22, 1911 (in Oversize Collections D1)

Resolutions, 1916-1942 1:2
Annual reports, 1904-1913 March 31 1:3
Record book of meeting minutes, 1895 May 21-1901 February 25 1:4
Record book of meeting minutes, 1901 March 25-1906 February 26 1:5
Record book of meeting minutes, 1906 March 26-1909 August 30 1:6
Record book of meeting minutes, 1909 September 27-1911 March 14 1:7
Record book of meeting minutes, 1911 March 27–1915 March 20 1:8
Record book of meeting minutes, 1911 March 27-1916 February 28 1:9
Record book of meeting minutes, 1916 March 27–1921 April 15 1:10
Record book of meeting minutes, 1921 April 25-1930 March 2:1
Record book of meeting minutes, 1938 March 28–1952 May 26 2:2
Record book of meeting minutes, 1952 July 28–1960 April 25 2:3
Record book of meeting minutes, 1960 January-1964 2:4
Record book of meeting minutes, 1968 April 29–1973 November 26 2:5
Typed meeting minutes (unbound), 1973 December–1974 December 2:6
Typed meeting minutes (unbound), 1975 January-December 2:7
Typed meeting minutes (unbound), 1976 January 26-December 27 2:8
Typed meeting minutes (unbound), 1977 January 31-November 28 2:9
Typed meeting minutes (unbound), 1978 January 30-December 18 2:10
Typed meeting minutes (unbound), 1979 January-December 17 2:11
Correspondence, 1915 May 13–1948 May 22 and undated


Letters and telegrams between society president and community members, including John Davidson of the San Diego Historical Society, Dr. Edgar Hewitt of the San Diego Natural History Museum, and Owen C. Coy of the California Historical Survey Commission.


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 Series II:  Membership

“Roll of members” (bound), undated 3:2
Record book of members, Vol. I, 1901 3:3
Record book of members, Vol. II, 1901-1931 3:4
Record book of members, 1911-1912 3:5
Record book of members, 1916-1919 3:6
Record book of members, 1924-1929 3:7
Record book of members, 1938-1961 4:1
Record book of members, 1952-1964 4:2
List of member attendance at events, 1927 4:3
Membership directories, 1915-1987 4:4
Individual membership applications, undated 4:5
Individual membership registration cards (A-G), undated 4:6
Individual membership registration cards (H-Q), undated 4:7
Individual membership registration cards (R-Z), undated 4:8
Ladies Pioneer Society biographies written by members (bound ledger), 1899 and undated


Biography and autobiography of Mary E. Morse, undated (pages 446-47, 400-404).

Copies of member obituaries and original funeral announcements, 1913–1979 and undated


Funeral announcement and obituary for Lela E. Bailey, February 2-6, 1978.

Funeral announcement for Bertha Schiller, October 21, 1956.

Correspondence, 1908 May 20–1951 August 1 and undated


Thank-you letter from John G. Capron for Pioneer Society members’ attendance at his wife’s funeral, May 20, 1908.

Thank-you letter from General John J. Pershing for his honorary membership in the Pioneer Society, January 31, 1920.

Miscellanea, 1923 July 29–1976 September 20 and undated


News articles and other miscellaneous items regarding the Pioneer Society and its members.


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 Series III:  Financial

Log of receipts and disbursements, 1898-1920 5:1
Treasurer reports, 1908-1930 5:2
Check stubs (Bank of America), 1911-1915 5:3
Cancelled checks (Bank of America), 1911-1970 5:4
Receipts (miscellaneous), 1913-1953 5:5
Bank books (Bank of America), 1921-1961 5:6
Checkbook and check stubs (Bank of America), 1952 November-1960 July 5:7
Bank statements (Bank of America), 1959 September-1970 September 5:8
General tax and banking information, 1963-1965 5:9
Property owned by the Pioneer Society, 1912 May 6-1924 January 20 5:10
Correspondence, 1908 June 26-1973 July 31 5:11

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 Series IV:  Accession Records

Record book of donations, 1913 June 5:12
Record book of donations, 1917 April 5:13
Inventory of collections, 1918 July 7-1930 July 7 and undated


List of the Margaret V. Allen papers given to the Junipero Serra Museum upon transfer of that collection, July 7, 1930.

Correspondence, 1910-1923 and undated


Correspondence between Margaret V. Allen and J.M. Guinn regarding his donation of all volumes of Historical Society of Southern California publications, August 9–September 16, 1915.

Correspondence from Millard F. Hudson regarding his donation of papers, some related to filibusters, February 21, 1916.

Correspondence regarding the donation of Father Horton’s “tin horn” and an early hotel register, undated.


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 Series V:  Events

Panama-California Exposition, 1915 January 21–1916 April 8


Correspondence related to the exposition, 1915-1916.

Two certificates awarding the Pioneer Society gold medals for their history exhibit, 1915 and 1916 (in Oversize Collections D1).

Speeches, 1915-1919


Handwritten speech given by Margaret V. Allen at the Panama-California Exposition, 1915.

Speech presented to the West Coast Branch of the National Historical Association, circa 1917-1919.

News reports, 1923–1958 and undated 5:18

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