MS 182 Alice E. Klauber Papers

Summary Information

San Diego History Center Document Collection
Klauber, Alice Ellen, 1871-1951
Alice E. Klauber Papers
MS 182
Date [inclusive]
1.0 Linear feet (3 boxes)
Language of Materials
Collection materials are in English, Italian, French, and Hungarian.
This collection contains the personal papers of Alice E. Klauber, including numerous travel journals from her journeys through Europe and Asia, as well as diaries chronicling her life in California. It also contains pencil sketches and watercolors of landscapes, people, and architecture in addition to poetry, correspondence, and other personal and financial documents.

Preferred Citation

Alice E. Klauber Papers, MS 182, San Diego History Center Document Collection, San Diego, CA.

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Biographical / Historical Notes

Alice E. Klauber was an artist and an interior designer with a significant influence on the cultural development of San Diego. Born in San Diego on May 19, 1871, Ms. Klauber was the third of twelve children born to Abraham and Theresa Epsteen Klauber. Alice moved briefly to San Francisco with her family in 1885, returning to San Diego permanently in 1892.

Later, Ms. Klauber went on to study art under William M. Chase and Robert Henri. Much of her familiarity with different art forms and styles came from her travels throughout Europe and the “Orient.” Ms. Klauber traveled to Europe four times during her lifetime: in 1907 with Robert Henri, in 1912 with William Chase, in 1922 where she remained abroad until the end of 1923, and finally in 1934 through 1935. In addition to her extensive travels through Europe, Ms. Klauber traveled to several countries in Asia in 1929 including China, Japan, Java and Cambodia. Her travels through the Orient led to her accumulation of a large collection of Oriental Art, some of which she contributed to the Oriental Art collection of the Fine Arts Gallery. This led to her recognition as an Honorary Curator of Oriental Art in 1940.

Ms. Klauber was an active and respected member of the San Diego community, especially within the art world. She was a chairperson of the Art Department of the Panama-California Exposition in San Diego in 1915-1916, as well as helping provide the interior decoration for the Exposition, Y.W.C.A., and the Wednesday Club. Ms. Klauber was very interested in architecture, drawing numerous sketches of houses and floor plans of different architectural styles. She was considered an expert in Oriental Art and was often asked to speak at various events and for many organizations in the San Diego area. While she rarely admitted to being an artist herself, Ms. Klauber’s work was exhibited frequently in Southern California, especially during the 1920s and 1930s. Her work was displayed at both the 1915-16 and the 1935-36 Expositions in San Diego.

Ms. Klauber’s artistic influence extended beyond the interior design realm when in 1928 she wrote a book of poetry entitles Poems, which was published in Chula Vista. Further, she designed book plates for several prominent San Diegans and her paintings were awarded on several occasions. Ms. Klauber died in Lemon Grove on July 5, 1951.

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Scope and Content

This collection contains the personal papers of Alice E. Klauber dating from 1890 to 1938. This includes journals and writings chronicling her travel through Europe and Asia, as well as the East Coast of the United States. Several other journals chronicle her life in California during her residence both in San Diego and San Francisco. The collection contains two notable pieces of writing, a short story written by Alice during her trip to Asia, and a notebook containing several original poems. There are also numerous pencil sketches and watercolors of landscapes, people, and architecture. Some of the landscapes portray locations in San Diego County, including Lemon Grove and El Cajon. The collection also contains some correspondence, as well as address books and financial papers.

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The collection is arranged into six series:

Series I: Travel Journals

Series II: California Journals

Series III: Writings

Series IV: Art

Series V: Architecture

Series VI: Personal documents

Items within each series are arranged by subject and date.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

San Diego History Center Document Collection August 11, 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 860110A.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Katrina White on August 11, 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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Related Materials

Separated Materials

Sketches transferred to Curatorial Department, November 27, 1990. Curatorial Accession Number SDH 86.83.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • American Federation of Arts.
  • Biennale di Venezia.
  • California Pacific International Exposition (1935-1936 : San Diego, Calif.).
  • Fine Arts Society of San Diego (Calif.).
  • Japan Society of San Diego.
  • Klauber Wangenheim Co..
  • Panama-California Exposition (1915 : San Diego, Calif.).
  • Panama-California International Exposition (1916 : San Diego, Calif.).
  • San Francisco Art Association.
  • Wednesday Club of San Diego .
  • Young Women’s Christian Association.

Geographic Name(s)

  • Austria
  • Balboa Park (San Diego, Calif.)
  • Berlin (Germany)
  • Budapest (Hungary)
  • Cambodia
  • China
  • Chula Vista (Calif.)
  • Colon (Panama)
  • El Cajon (Calif.)
  • Java
  • Kaukauna (Wis.)
  • Kobe-shi (Japan)
  • La Mesa (Calif.)
  • Lemon Grove (Calif.)
  • Linda Vista (Calif.)
  • London (England)
  • Los Angeles (Calif.)
  • Madrid (Spain)
  • Panama Canal (Panama)
  • Paris (France)
  • Phoenix (Ariz.)
  • Place de Etats-Unis (Memorial to American Volunteers)
  • Poland
  • Prague (Czech Republic)
  • Rome (Italy)
  • Saint Paul (Minn.)
  • San Diego (Calif.)
  • San Francisco (Calif.)
  • Santa Barbara (Calif.)
  • Spanish Village
  • Venice (Italy)

Personal Name(s)

  • Aymar, Zenobia Camprubi
  • Bancroft, Kate
  • Chase, William Merritt, 1849-1916
  • Hawkins, Margaret Scripps
  • Henri, Robert, 1865-1929
  • Jimenez, Juan Ramon, 1881-1958
  • Kalman, Feher
  • Klauber, Abraham, 1831-1911
  • Klauber, Alice Ellen, 1871-1951
  • Klauber, Edgar
  • Klauber, Theresa Epsteen
  • Lovell, Eleanor Klauber
  • Seeger, Alan, 1888-1916
  • Sessions, Kate Olivia, 1857-1940
  • Sherman, Elizabeth
  • Synge, J. M. (John Millington), 1871-1909


  • Art
  • Poetry
  • Travel
  • Writing

Subject Uniform Title(s)

  • Arts & Decoration
  • House & Garden
  • San Diego Union

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Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

The binding on one sketchbook is partially undone and some pages are loose. (August 11, 2011)

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Collection Inventory

 Series I:  Travel Journals

“1st trip East” – United States travel journal, 1896 July 25–1899 February 25

Scope and Content:

Notes on travels to East coast, including Chicago and Pittsburgh. Notes are scrawled and hard to read. Mostly records social visits and outings.

Entries of Interest:

January 7, 1899: Went to Academy of Fine Arts in the morning. Saw DeWolf Hopper at Chestnut St. Opera House in evening.

January 9, 1899: “Went to Senate chamber heard Hoar’s speech against Annexation, attacked member from Comm. (Platt). Saw Senator White and Henry Cabot Lodge.”

January 11, 1899: “Spent hours in Senate hearing Foraker’s reply to Hoar on annexation. Heard House of Representatives few moments.”

January 23, 1899: “Grover Cleveland and I only passengers in Pullman car. He got off Princeton Junction.”

United States travel journal, 1903 March 13-August 9

Scope and Content:

Unorganized notes on travel, art classes, etc. Chronicles her trip to East Coast in the spring, including Milwaukee and Chicago. Notes on front and back of each page do not correspond.

Entries of Interest:

Instructions on casting a bas relief (towards front of notebook)

June 27, 1903: Detailed notes on art technique and watercolor from Mr. Vanderpool.

June 29, 1903: Detailed notes on Mr. Mersfelder’s art critiques.

July 21, 1903: “Left Delavan for Kaukauna… Had painted two studies since the class left on Saturday – one over turpentine and white which was scarcely dry and so very unsuccessful – the other with kerotine as the medium – this was rather too liquid but better in many ways.”

“Italian Trip, Chase notes” – Europe travel journal (trip #1), 1907 June-September


Mostly notes on different famous pieces of art, including The Last Judgment and the Sistine Chapel. Also quotes and observes Chase quite a lot. Includes some pencil sketches, including some house floorplans. Several original poems in the second half of the notebook.

Europe travel journal (trip #2), 1922


Numerous pencil sketches of people, architecture, notes and lists. Mentions Feher Kalman numerous times. Traveled to Prague, Budapest, Berlin, Vienna, Poland.

Europe travel journal (trip #2), 1922


Notes mostly on museums and art pieces. Includes some pencil sketches.

Europe travel journal (trip #2), 1922


Notes mostly from when she was in Germany. Includes pencil sketches and watercolors, as well as notes, mostly from different museums she visited. A few sketches of a floorplan that she was working on.

Europe travel journal (trip #2), 1922


Half of the notebook appears to be Italian language practice, including vocabulary lists and notes on grammar. The other half includes notes on museums visited in Europe, and specific art pieces that left an impression on her.

Europe travel journal (trip #2), 1922–1923 September

Scope and Content:

Chronicles her travel leading up to her departure for Europe, and her travels through Paris and London.

Entries of Interest:

March 15-16, 1922: Executive Board Meeting of Fine Arts Gallery; she has trouble with some of the members and leadership: “I was told I was quibbly and Mr. B would again be made to feel regretful that he had ever started the idea, etc.”

March 28, 1922: Painted at the Art Center from 10am-4:30pm, “Potatoes in blue”

March 31, 1922: Saw exhibit at Biltmore, “bought the Picasso and I love it!”

September 7, 1923: In Paris. Walked the Champs Elysee after lunch. “Blakey called to say goodbye—with a gift too—most lovely and embarrassing!”

Visits Notre Dame, Durand Ruel on Rue Lafitte. Analyzes painting styles by Boudin, Pissano, Sisley, Renoir: “Boudin mixed his tones before, PIssano used his mixed tones alternatingly, Sisley was between these two but distinct masses separately used. Renoir smeared his colors and dragged them smearingly.”

September 17, 1923: “Have made friends with me (sic): Estelle Lakeman, Mrs. Morse and niece, Miss Virginia Soley. We were the party for the Russian concert, and had an awfully nice time together.”

Sketches of house (in middle of book)

The Ladybird by D.H. Lawrence: “A man can only be happy following his own inmost need…” (inside back cover)

Europe travel journal (trip #2), 1922 October 15–1923 February 9


Mostly notes on artifacts, art seen in different museums throughout Europe (Germany, France, London, etc.).

Europe travel journal (trip #2), 1923 January 1–1924 January 4

Scope and Content:

Living in Europe until late fall of 1923. She returned to San Diego by the holidays. Written in very small handwriting, difficult to read.

Entries of Interest:

June 3-13, 1923: In Venice, does a lot of sketching.

“Paris – Chateaux Trip” – Europe travel journal (trip #2), 1923 April 24–September 23


Traveling in France, goes to Chantilly, Versailles. Then to Germany: Munich, Frankfurt, and on to Amsterdam. Includes more sketches of floorplan. She visits the Memorial to American Volunteers (for WWI) in the Place de Etats-Unis, quotes poem by Alan Seeger, “Ode in Memory of the American Volunteers Fallen for France.” The memorial had just been erected that year, in July of 1923.

Orient travel notes, 1929 and undated

Scope and Content:

Loose papers comprised of still life pencil sketches with notes, as well as notes on artistic styles (possibly from a class or workshop) and notes on “Oriental” culture and traditions that seem to correspond to a trip she took to “the Orient” in 1929, including Japan, China, Java and Cambodia.

Notes of Interest:

A pencil-sketched map of Eurasia.

Notes written on letterhead from The Oriental Hotel, Kobe, Japan.

Notes on Japanese flower arrangement.

“Letters Sent & Received, etc” – Europe travel journal (trip #3), 1934


Lists letters sent during her 1934 trip to Europe.

“Adrien Paris” – Europe travel journal (trip #3), 1934 June 17-July 10

Scope and Content:

Chronicles her journey to Europe via steamship. Many observations about her fellow travelers, mostly British. The entries are not in chronological order and are hard to follow.

Entries of Interest:

June 30, 1934: Arriving at Panama Canal: “Tomorrow early we will be at the Canal entrance and have all day to negotiate it. We are promised several hours in Colon, for stopping, mailing letters, ‘stretching our legs’ generally.”

Europe travel journal (trip #3), 1934 September 8–1935 January 17

Scope and Content:

Traveling in England.

Entries of Interest:

September 14, 1934: “Cooks are holding a reservation on a Daniola ‘Kota’ Goat for Oct. 29th. Seems now much too soon for me.”

September 24, 1934: Took a class on prints with Mr. Wilson (includes notes)

September 25, 1934: “Miss Goodman and I to go to a fashion-show at Eve Valere’s… Nice show, but as usual, too much!”

October 2, 1934: Doctor’s appointment: “He was pleased with the fall in blood pressure, 200 to 160 in two weeks of care and medication. Reported occulists agreement ‘Migraine'” – good eyes – His diagnosis: ‘Valvular disease’ and ‘high blood pressure.’ Orders: live carefully!”

November 29, 1934: Thanksgiving and Royal Wedding (Princess Marina of Greece to Prince George, Duke of Kent).

December 10, 1934: Went to St. James Palace to see display of royal wedding gifts and other memorabilia.

December 14, 1934: Went to see “The Shining Hour” at St. James Theater.

Undated: Japan Society Meeting: “The secretary invited me to call and use their library, but haven’t had a chance – also could have used the library at Courtauld Art School in Portman place.”

At back: Lists of theaters, concerts, performances, lectures attended.

Lists previous trips to Europe and the Orient.

Handwritten Europe guidebook, undated

Scope and Content:

Red leather notebook with handwritten entries by Ms. Klauber that read like a travel guide (recommendations, where to go, etc.). It’s addressed to the reader as if she wrote it for someone else. Many blank pages between entries. She lists different museums and cultural sites she visited and recommends.

Entries of Interest:

Page 63: Mentions Zenobia Camprubi Aymar

Page 70: Refers to the Venice Biennale, an art exhibition that takes place every two years.

Old photograph/postcard with inscription


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 Series II:  California Journals

San Francisco journal, 1890 February 5-1892 February 16

Scope and Content:

From the period when she lived in San Francisco. Includes mostly random lists and notes, and seems unorganized. Includes some pencil sketches. Contains lists of “Letters read” and “Letters written.” Lists travels: 1890-1892.

San Diego journal #1, 1906 November 29-1907 February 26

Scope and Content:

102 pages total. The cover is labeled “Recipes for Cookery, plaster casts, etc.” Includes some recipes but also many notes on diverse subjects. There are pencil sketches on pages 14, 37, 40-42, 60-62, 89.

Page 23: “Ask Miss Sessions for red headed bougainvillea.”

San Diego journal #2, 1918 January 1-November 19

Scope and Content:

1918 datebook chronicling her daily activities when she was 47 years old. There are big gaps between entries.

Entries of Interest:

June 12, 1918: Went to Annual Club Luncheon, learned how to do hair dressing. “Went to Lau’s dressed for my Japanese print”

June 14, 1918: Went to Francis Parker school for outdoor Shakespeare play. Eleanor (Klauber – her niece) in the play.

November 13-14, 1918: Sketches of floorplan for house

San Diego journal #3, 1936 January 2-December 30

Scope and Content:

1936 Daily Planner. The California-Pacific Exposition was going on during this period, and she frequently attended events there.

Entries of Interest:

February 12, 1936: “Finished the HH room and Chinese art. Poured after the Expo Opening.”

June 23, 1936: “Francis Parker School ‘Round the World on a Penny’ with Eleanor”

July 29, 1936: Meets with Kate Bancroft, 10:30am.

August 30, 1936: “Mrs. Robert Scripps or[ganizes] Cocktail Party”

September 16, 1936: “Painted at Eliz. Sherman’s”

San Diego journal #4, 1937 January 1–1938 January 5

Scope and Content:

1937 Daily Reminder book. Mostly lists appointments and other engagements. She was sick multiple times during the year.

Entry of Interest:

April 15, 1937: “El Patio then white paint and large brush to draw at Spanish Village.”


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 Series III:  Writings

Poetry notebook, 1912

Scope and Content:

Much of writing is smudged, difficult to read. Includes some writing in French, appears to be language practice. Also includes some original poems but they are difficult to read. (Page numbers counted from cover with “Mirage” poem on it).

Entry of Interest:

Page 9: A poem that appears to be dedicated to J.M. Synge.

Short story, 1929

Scope and Content:

An apparently original handwritten narrative titled “The Silver Peacock: A book of criticism.” It was written during her travels in “the Orient” when she was in a small village outside of Kobe, Japan.

Written notes, undated


Loose sheets of paper with lists of names, presumably related to gifts or purchases she has made for them (including glass, pottery, etc.). Also a list of gifts received. Other papers have other notes and lists that are hard to contextualize and understand since they appear to be notes she jotted down quickly for herself.


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 Series IV:  Art

Sketches: landscapes, 1901 April 6–1906 April and undated


Pencil sketches and watercolor, primarily landscapes. Several sketches of Kaukauna, Wisconsin. Includes a pencil sketch on the back of one of Miss Klauber’s calling cards. Other labeled sketches include drawings of Linda Vista, El Cajon and Lemon Grove.

Landscapes sketchbook, 1901-1903


Sketches in a Ruskin Drawing Book. Includes pencil and color sketches of primarily landscapes, including several labeled La Mesa.

Sketches: people, 1893 November–1931 and undated


Pencil, pen and color sketches of people. Several sketches are on Klauber Wangenheim Co. letterhead. Very few sketches have been named, dated or signed. One sketch of two men in conductors’ hats labeled “Train for Ferry,” Summer 1931.

People sketchbook, 1893 October-1894 September


Sketches of people and landscapes.

Art notes, undated


Notebook: Includes notes on artistic technique including perspective (possibly from a class/workshop). Some finance lists in the back.

Loose papers: Includes more notes on artistic technique and art materials. Covers the color palette, glass, etc. Includes some pencil sketches.


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 Series V:  Architecture

Architectural sketches, 1914 April–1923 October 24


Architectural sketches, floor plans and notes for house(s)/cottage(s) she appeared to be planning to build. Many of the pen and pencil sketches are on the back of postcards, ads, etc. (for example, a 1914 Christmas League of San Diego card). The majority of the notes and sketches appear to be made during her Europe travels in 1923. There are also a few planning sketches/drawings for her paintings, including a sketch of Assisi.

Architecture articles, 1921 February–1934 January and undated


Articles on houses, different architectural styles, and other architecture topics.

Copies of articles from the San Diego Union, Arts & Decoration, and House & Garden.

Clippings of pictures from magazines and newspapers.

Photographs and postcards, undated


Photographs and postcards of different houses, architecture and interior design.


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 Series VI:  Personal Documents

Correspondence, 1930 February 3 and 1931 December 31 and undated


Letter from her brother Edgar, undated. Requests her permission to publish a poem of hers in the Los Angeles Times. Informs her of a family friend’s death, and mentions an enclosed newspaper clipping (not in collection). Refers to the “daily rumbles of war” but it is unclear which war he was referring to.

Address books, undated


Three address books containing the names and addresses of Ms. Klauber’s friends and acquaintances from over the years and across the globe. They include contact information for Robert Henri, Madame Henri Matisse, Zenobia Camprubi Aymar, and many others.

Finances, 1922 May 1–1936 July 14 and undated


Book of finances from 1936 trip, June 24–July 14, 1936.

Loose papers with notes on finances, calculations, undated.

“A Gotika Kulesa” (Budapest publication, autographed), 1922

Scope and Content:

Autographed by Coloman Feher/Feher Kalman. All the text is in Hungarian except for the dedication: “To Miss Alice Klauber with much reverence and most devotedly by Coloman Feher.”


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