MS 204 Beck Family Papers

Summary Information

San Diego History Center Document Collection
Beck family
Beck Family Papers
MS 204
Date [inclusive]
4.5 Linear feet (9 boxes)
Language of Materials
Collection materials are in English and German.
The collection contains personal and business papers of the Beck family, with particular focus on Violet Beck.

Preferred Citation

Beck Family Papers, MS 204, San Diego History Center Document Collection, San Diego, CA.

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Biographical / Historical Notes

August Beck (b. January 26, 1845) married Louise Edith Myers (b. February 4, 1860) on November 4, 1882. August served in the Army for 30 years becoming head Chief Clerk in Omaha, NE and Chicago, IL. In Chicago, they had two daughters, Evalinda (Eva) Estella (b. 1884) and Violet Miriam (b. December 15, 1886). In the late 1880s, the family moved to San Diego, CA. Around 1895, August was sent to Fort Stockton. In the late 1890s, they moved into a house at 612 Hawthorn. August Beck died in November 1917 in Honolulu, HI. In 1919, Louise purchased a house in the Golden Hill neighborhood of San Diego, at 411 21st St. Louise lived in the home until her death in 1933. Later, Violet and Eva rented out rooms at the home on 21st Street and other family-owned properties.

Eva became a nurse and worked throughout California. She married James Clark Earl on May 20, 1909 and had three children, Lillian (b. circa 1910), John, and David. Lillian married Claude Sutton in 1932 and had two children, David and Charles. Eva died in 1965.

Violet graduated from Fowler High School in Fresno, CA, in 1904 before attending the University of California, Berkeley where she received her B.L., M.L., and teaching certification. Violet taught all over California including San Diego, Banning, Blythe, Patterson, Esparto, Covelo, Lompoc, Ramona, Lakeside, National City, and Mt. Empire. Violet was a substitute teacher for 29 years in National City, Coronado, and San Diego and also taught at the Junior College of San Diego.

Violet was a devout Christian. Church activities and bible study were a dominant part of her life. She was a member of the Philathea Class at the First Baptist Church of San Diego from 1901 to 1957.

While living in Golden Hill, Violet actively fought for the preservation of the community, specifically opposing the building of high-rise structures. From 1935 to 1957, Violet was Head of the Restriction Committee of the Golden Hill Improvement Association. Working with the association, she helped with the acquisition of Grant Hill Park and in obtaining a bridge over the freeway at 22nd Street.

Violet died on July 3, 1989 at the age of 102.

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Scope and Content

A substantial amount of the material in the collection belongs to Violet M. Beck including diaries, scrapbooks, articles, and journals documenting her life and interests growing up and teaching in California. Violet’s diaries and writings begin during her high school years and continue through the late-1980s. Violet’s diaries mention her religious beliefs, family events, and daily activities, including her rental properties and tenants. While teaching, Violet wrote about her pupils and experiences. She also discusses her activities toward preserving Golden Hill. The collection also includes Violet’s poetry journals and clippings from 1926 to the 1950s, including her own poetry and the works of other poets she admired. Violet also displays her drawing skills throughout her scrapbooks, diaries and journals.

The collection also contains materials pertaining to family genealogy, real estate, and personal activities. Journals entitled “Home Folks” record genealogical information about the Beck family, as well as personal entries by Violet Beck. The collection also includes the diaries of Louise E. Beck and Eva E. Earl as well as a scrapbook of Lillian Sutton. Photographs of relatives and friends are also included. There are materials related to the rental properties owned by the Beck Family. Guestbooks document tenants that rented from Violet M. Beck and Eva Earl. The Guestbooks also include photographs of tenants.

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The collection is arranged into four series:

Series I: Beck Family

Series II: Violet Miriam Beck

Series III: Rental Property

Series IV: Miscellanea

Items within each series are arranged by subject.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

San Diego History Center Document Collection March 21, 2012

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 901313.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Alison Hennessey on March 21, 2012.

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)

  • Esparto Union High School (Calif.).
  • Grossmont Union High School (Calif.).
  • Panama-California Exposition (1915 : San Diego, Calif.).
  • University of California, Berkeley.

Family Name(s)

  • Beck family


  • Correspondence
  • Diaries

Geographic Name(s)

  • Balboa Park (San Diego, Calif.)
  • Esparto Union High School (Calif.)
  • Golden Hill (San Diego, Calif.)
  • Grossmont Union High School (Calif.)
  • San Diego (Calif.)
  • Villa Montezuma (San Diego, Calif.)

Personal Name(s)

  • Beck, August
  • Beck, Louise E.
  • Beck, Violet Miriam
  • Crowell, Grace Noll, 1877-1969
  • Earl, Evalinda E.
  • Grierson, Francis, 1848-1924
  • Keller, Helen, 1880-1968
  • Sutton, Charles
  • Sutton, David
  • Sutton, Lillian


  • Christian poetry
  • Christianity
  • Genealogy
  • Landlord and tenant
  • Nursing
  • Poetry
  • Real property
  • Rental housing
  • San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, Calif., 1906
  • Scrapbooks
  • Teaching
  • World War, 1914-1918
  • World War, 1939-1945

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Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Diaries, journals, scrapbooks, and guestbooks have some fragile pages. Some pages in the diaries are partially detached from their bindings. Guestbook covers with mold have been separated to Box 7 for the protection of other materials. Human and horse hair have also been separated to Box 7. (March 21, 2012)

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Collection Inventory

 Series I: Beck Family

Family history correspondence, 1958– 1975 and undated


Correspondence among family members regarding Home Folks books and family history.

Family correspondence, 1874 November 30-1979 February 15 and undated


Correspondence among family members and friends of the Beck family.

Family documents, 1915 June 17-1968 January 12


August Beck’s Last Will and Testament (copy)

Funeral arrangements from Greenwood Memorial Park, Inc. for Lester Johnson

“Home-Folks” Book 1, 1924 August 22-1933 June 17 and undated

Scope and Content:

Book contains poems by Violet Beck to, and about, her friends and family. In the first entry on August 22, 1924 (page 13), Violet Beck explains that this home folks book is to be used by anyone wishing to record “memories, traditions, present situations, character sketches, descriptions, narrations, and conversations,” that relate directly or indirectly to family members and family friends.

“Home-Folks” Book 2, 1924 August 22-1944 April 7 and undated

Scope and Content:

Violet is the primary writer in the book, detailing her daily life and family events. She writes substantially about her great-nephews, Charles and David Sutton, and their mother Lillian Sutton. Violet also records her thoughts on current events, politics, and World War II. Herman Jacob Lehrbach and Lester Johnson also contribute family histories. The book also includes information on tenants who rented rooms from Violet Beck and Eva Earl as well as Violet’s efforts petitioning the city council to ban smoking on street cars. A note in the first entry (August 22, 1924) explains the intentions of the book, similar to “Home-Folks” Book 1.

January 7, 1941: “… over the radio came a flash that a Japanese air-raid was in course over the Island of Oahu, – over Pearl Harbor and all naval and military establishments there.” (page 76)

February 27, [year?]: “Sundays I go to the Baptist Sunday School. Today, I had our class and two others sign petitions to the Council for no-smoking on buses and street cars. Eva wants a thousand signatures.” (page 346)

“Home-Folks” Book 2, loose item, undated



Louise Edith Myers Beck diary, 1892 January 2-1933 June 25, 1960 May 21

Scope and Content:

The diary contains Louise E. Myers Beck’s reflections on her marriage, her daughters, and daily home life from January 2, 1892 to June 25, 1933. The diary begins in 1892 while Louise is living in Chicago, in her ninth year of marriage to August Beck. Her eldest daughter, Evalinda Estella, is eight and Violet Miriam is five years old. Louise laments about her marriage and her husband August’s unpredictable temperament. Louise also discusses her relationship to her daughters as they grow older. The diary includes the family’s move, in the mid-1880s, from Chicago to California and, in the late 1880s, to San Diego. The diary also includes recipes at the end as well as poetry throughout. There is an entry added by Violet Beck dated May 21, 1960 reflecting on her mother’s diary (after her mother’s death).

Louise Edith Myers Beck diary, loose items, 1893 September 20-1960 May 21 and undated


Notes, poems, recipes, letters, cards, newspaper clippings, and photos

Evalinda Estella Earl diary, 1919 February 16-1922 December 15 and undated

Scope and Content:

The diary contains daily activities regarding Eva’s home life, family and nursing between February 16, 1919 and December 15, 1922. Eva writes about her children, mother, sister, and other relatives. She describes the locations where she nurses, hospitals and homes, the patients she cares for, and her friends and colleagues. She also describes travelling around California to work and to visit family. The diary includes poetry, newspaper clippings, cards, and letters.

Lillian Earl Baby Book, scrapbook, 1909 May 20-1915 April 16 and undated


Letters, photographs, cards, notes, fabric, poetry, and drawings related to Lillian Earl

Wedding invitation for Evalinda Estella to James C. Earl, May 20, 1909

Lillian Earl Baby Book, scrapbook, loose items, 1914 March 26-1929 February 11 and undated


Letters, cards, poems, notes, photographs, newspaper clippings, and fabric

Commencement Exercises program for San Diego High School, January 25, 1929

Photograph album, undated


Photographs of Beck family and friends.

Photograph album, loose items, undated 9:2
Photographs, 1940 March-1977 June and undated


Photographs of Beck family and friends


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 Series II: Violet Miriam Beck

“Autobiography Volume II,” 1919-1944 and undated

Scope and Content:

The volume contains entries by Violet while teaching in Ramona, CA and Cavelo, CA, and substitute teaching in San Diego. Violet describes her students and fellow teachers, as well as her church activities. Also included are poems, recipes, addresses, drawings, and lists for Christmas cards and presents.

“Autobiography Volume II,” loose items, undated


Notes, lists, and poems

Diary 1, 1900 December 15-1906 October 20

Scope and Content:

Diary covers Violet’s high school years in San Diego and Fowler, CA through the beginning of college at the University of California, Berkeley. She occasionally discusses current events including an entry (April 20-21, 1906, page 183) regarding the 1906 earthquake and fire in San Francisco. The diary includes photos, poems, and newspaper clippings.

Diary 1, loose items, 1903-1909 and undated


Loose page from Diary 1 (June 27, [year?], most likely pages 29-30), photograph, cards, poems, and fabric.

Diary 2, 1907 December 25-1910 February 16 and undated

Scope and Content:

Diary covers Violet’s final years at the University of California, Berkeley. She discusses her religion and courses, professors and fellow students. The diary includes letters to family and friends. She also discusses her thesis and graduation.

Diary 3, 1913-1946

Scope and Content:

The bulk was written from December 14, 1913 to November 25, 1918, with Christmas card lists through 1946. Violet discusses her family, including the death of her father, teaching, her pupils, and religion. She also includes her thoughts on World War I. The diary includes photos, cards, poetry, recipes, songs, and drawings.

Entries of Interest:

November 21: Comments on World War I. “If there were no God, then those who have lost dear ones by death could have no hope of seeing them again. Then this war in Europe would be more dreadful still, if all the mothers and widows would have no hope of ever seeing the men who have died.” (page 98)

August 15: “Yesterday Uncle Phil and I went to the Exposition grounds, and saw the beautifully colored buildings.” (page 73)

March 19, 1915: “Today Mr. Quade took me to the Spreckles Theatre to see Helen Keller and her teacher Mrs. Macy. There were many people there; they were an intelligent and sympathetic audience.” (page 157)

Diary 3, loose items, undated


Notes on diary entries and Jack Stafford’s address on scrap paper

Diary 4, 1976 March 26-1978 May 14

Scope and Content:

The diary includes daily activities, visits with friends and family, and discussion of her tenants. Violet writes about her travels around California visiting family and friends, including attending a 50th wedding anniversary party and family reunion. Violet also discusses her activities related to preserving Golden Hill and restricting the building of high rise structures. Violet also reflects on her primary school education through her university years. Beginning on September 18, 1977, Violet explains that in an attempt to purchase a nearby property, she became the victim of an embezzlement scheme. Mark Lambrose, with the help of a few other men, took $10,000 from Violet Beck. Violet writes about her efforts to recover the money and her appearance in court at the sentencing for Mark Lambrose in which she gave a statement on his behalf.

Entries of Interest:

July 4, 1976: Provides information regarding family involvement in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the War of 1812, World War I, the Spanish-American War, and World War II.

September 26, 1976: Violet writes about seeing presidential candidate Jimmy Carter and California Governor Jerry Brown at the Presbyterian Church at 3rd Street and Date Street.

Diary 4, loose item, 1976 August 7


Newspaper article published in The San Diego Union, written by Violet Beck titled, “How Golden Hill Got its Name”

Diary 5, 1978 May 17-1981 April 5

Scope and Content:

Violet discusses her daily activities including outings, visiting with family and friends, and attending church and funerals. She also discusses her ongoing activities fighting against the building of high-rise structures in Golden Hill. Violet describes rental home improvement projects. She also reflects on her illnesses and aging and the death of family and friends. The diary includes details of the Old Timers Picnic at Felicita Park on July 9, 1978. Violet writes extensively about her friendship to Mark Lambrose. In early 1980, Violet writes explains that Lambrose stole money and personal property from her after which Violet visited Lambrose in jail regularly and continued efforts to help him.

Diary 5, loose items, undated


Schedule of Rates and notes regarding rental arrangements.

List of gifts given to Violet Beck for her birthday.

Personal writings, 1985 May 22–1987 March 20 and undated 3:1
Book: “Apple Blossoms and Other Poems” by Violet Beck, 1926 3:2
Poetry journal 1: “Verses,” 1910-1911

Scope and Content:

Illustrations and poetry by Violet Beck, as well as photographs of Violet.

Poetry journal 2 (some in German), 1904-1951 and undated

Scope and Content:

Newspaper clippings, illustrations and poetry by various identified and unidentified authors. It is possible that unidentified poetry was authored by Violet Beck. Identified authors of poetry include: Alice Archer Sewall, Avery Harris and Eva E. Earl, among others. Also includes German poetry by August Beck and German patriotic song.

Poetry journal 3, undated

Scope and Content:

Poetry by various authors such as Grace Noll Crowell and Helen Welshimer. Author, “Vi” is likely a nickname for Violet.

Poetry journal 3, cover, undated 7:1
Poetry journal 4, undated

Scope and Content:

Poetry by various authors, identified and unidentified.

Poetry journal 4, loose item, undated


“Recompense,” poem by George Klingle

Poetry journal 5, “Poems: Grace Noll Crowell,” 1930-1955 and undated

Scope and Content:

Notebook of poetry primarily by Grace Noll Crowell with some inclusions by other authors.

Poetry journal 6, 1898-1952 and undated

Scope and Content:

Poetry by various identified and unidentified authors

Poetry journal 6, loose items, undated


Two illustrations and newspaper clipping, “In Memoriam-Dr. Humphrey J. Stewart.”

Poetry by various authors, 1908 February-1965 January and undated 3:11
Poetry by unidentified authors, 1931 May 16–1956 December 13 and undated 3:12
Scrapbook, 1914-1915 and undated


Postcards, photographs, correspondence, cards, notes, newspaper and magazine clippings and poetry

Newspaper articles written by Violet Beck regarding her experience at the 1915 San Diego Exposition

Ticket, brochures, photographs, and postcards related to the 1915 San Diego Exposition

Articles regarding Helen Keller’s visit to San Diego, March 18, 1915

Photographs of the San Diego area

Religious pamphlets, brochures, programs and hymns

Scrapbook, loose item, 1915 February 27


Postcard to Violet Beck from her Aunt Flora

Articles by Violet Beck, 1964 April 15 and undated 4:3
Teaching certificates and dipolmas, 1914 August 31-1918 September 18 and undated 4:4
Esparto Union High School scrapbook, 1911 August 25-1912 June 7 and undated

Scope and Content:

Violet writes diary-like entries of her experiences and thoughts about teaching and her pupils. It includes correspondence, notes, photographs, illustrations, business cards, newspaper and magazine clippings, and poetry. The scrapbook also includes an invitation to commencement exercises for the senior class of Esparto Union High School.

Esparto Union High School scrapbook, loose items, 1911-1915 and undated


Photographs, postcards, correspondence, illustrations

Grossmont Union High School yearbook, 1921


Autographs and notes from pupils and fellow teachers

Golden Hill activities, 1940 May 17-1978 February 22 and undated

Scope and Content:

Letter to Honorable Board of Supervisors for San Diego from Sloan & Steiner, attorneys regarding property in Golden Hill belonging to the George J. Keating Medical Fund, May 17, 1940

Letter to the editor of the San Diego Union by Violet Beck regarding the building of high-rise structures in Golden Hill, November 1972

“Golden Hill Restricted Area” map, January 1945 (in Oversize Collections D4)

Finances, 1951 June 19-1973 August 21 and undated


Telephone and telegraph company bills

Bank deposit slips

Letter from the San Diego Historical Society, Villa Montezuma thanking Violet Beck for her contribution to the purchase of the Jesse Shepard Papers

Miscellanea, 1944-1989 and undated

Scope and Content:

Violet Beck’s obituary, San Diego Union, July 8, 1989.

Drawing by Violet Beck, undated (in Oversize Collections D4)

Notebook, “Date Book for 1931” with Christmas and valentine card lists and 1 diary-like entry, 1944-1949

Notebook with daily notes, addresses, phone numbers, and lists, 1949-1956

Address book with notes, lists, business cards

Envelopes, Christmas card lists, illustrations by Charles Sutton (Violet’s grand-nephew), and newspaper clippings

Miscellanea, undated


Job’s Tears, picked by Violet in Honolulu


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 Series III: Rental Property

Finances, 1931-1948 and undated


Estimates and payment receipts

Rental receipt book, February 21, 1969-August 7, 1973

Financial ledger, 1968-1973 and undated

Scope and Content:

The ledger contains financial information kept by Violet Beck from 1968-1973. The ledger focuses on financial activities regarding Violet’s real estate properties. The ledger also includes information on personal expenses.

Real estate correspondence, 1941 April 7-1973 June 28


Correspondence regarding rental tenants

Letter to Violet Beck from Belmont Escrow Co., Inc. regarding 1809 Mission Avenue

Rental property notebooks (2), 1964 September 10-1972 November 26 and undated 5:3
Guestbook 1, 1936 July-1943 June

Scope and Content:

Guestbook 1 contains entries from tenants of Violet Beck and Eva Earl from July 1936 to June 1943, although not recorded chronologically. The entries include the names of tenants and sometimes their home address and a note about their stay. The Guestbook also includes photographs of tenants.

Guestbook 1, loose item, 1945 January 27


“USO Travelers Aid” referral for A.D. Morris to Mrs. Beck at 411 21st St., January 27, 1945

Guestbook 1, cover, undated 7:2
Guestbook 2, 1945-1950 and undated

Scope and Content:

Guestbook 2 contains entries from tenants of Violet Beck and Eva Earl from April 9, 1945 to July 1950, although not recorded chronologically. The entries include the names of tenants and sometimes their home address and a note about their stay. The Guestbook also includes photographs of tenants and correspondence. At the end of the scrapbook is a Christmas card list.

Guestbook 2, loose items, 1928 January-1961 July and undated


Photographs, negatives, and cards

Guestbook 3, 1951 November 14-1957 October 3 and undated

Scope and Content:

Guestbook 3 contains entries from tenants of Violet Beck and Eva Earl from November 14, 1951 to October 3, 1957, although not recorded chronologically. The entries include the names of tenants and sometimes their home address and a note about their stay. The Guestbook also includes photographs of tenants.

Guestbook 3, loose items, 1952 March 14-1955 February 26



Guestbook 3, cover, undated 7:3
Guestbook 4, 1952 January 14-1968 October 11

Scope and Content:

Guestbook 4 contains entries from tenants of Violet Beck and Eva Earl from January 14, 1952 to October 11, 1968, although not recorded chronologically. The entries include the names of tenants and sometimes their home address and a note about their stay. The Guestbook also includes photographs of tenants.

Guestbook 4, loose items, 1956 May-1964 February and undated



Guestbook 4, cover, undated 7:4
Guestbook 5, 1952 September 28-1954 November 26

Scope and Content:

Guestbook 5 contains entries from tenants of Violet Beck and Eva Earl from September 28, 1952 to November 26, 1954, although not recorded chronologically. The entries include the names of tenants and sometimes their home address and a note about their stay. The Guestbook also includes photographs of tenants and correspondence. At the end of the scrapbook is a Christmas card list.

Guestbook 5, loose items, 1954 February 9-1955 December 12


Two cards sent to Violet Beck and Eva Earl

Guestbook 5, cover, undated 7:5
Guestbook 6, 1955 April 6-1957 March 29 and undated

Scope and Content:

Guestbook 6 contains entries from tenants of Violet Beck and Eva Earl from April 6, 1955 to March 29, 1957, although not recorded chronologically. The entries include the names of tenants and sometimes their home address and a note about their stay. The Guestbook also includes photographs of tenants.

Guestbook 6, loose items, undated


Photographs and note

Guestbook 6, cover, undated 7:6
Miscellanea, undated


Pamphlet for the “Waste King Kitchen Pulverator”

Business cards for a moving service and plumbing, heating and gas fitting

Union Title Insurance Co. and Title pamphlet


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 Series IV: Miscellanea

Notebooks, 1945-1995 and undated


“Kitchen” notebook contains daily notes and phone numbers, approximately December 20, 1970-June 25, 1972

“Arthur” notebook contains daily notes and phone numbers in the early 1970s

“Daily Reminder 1947” notebook contains primarily religious poetry by various authors and passages from the bible during the late 1940s, with an entry on December 23, 1995

“Daily Reminder 1945” notebook contains a Christmas card list for 1945 and 3 poems

Articles and newspaper clippings, 1936 November 6-1949 September 8 and undated


Newspaper clipping on “Parcel Post Rates”

Newspaper clippings on banning smoking on street cars and buses, February 24, 1944 and undated

Newspaper article, “The Pilgrim: Some Were Saints . . . Some Weren’t”

The Fresno Guide article, “Paula Mae Myers Claimed As Bride by James Albert Bedall,” September 8, 1949

Advertisements for Michael Todd’s “Around the World in 80 Days,” at Coronet Theatre, San Fancisco, CA

Page 4 from the San Diego High School Russ publication, November 6, 1936

Miscellanea (some in German), 1942–1973 and undated


Blank postcards, envelopes, notes, business cards, portion of a hymnal booklet, cards, 1968 calendar

Train ticket from Fresno, CA to Bakersfield, CA, August 3, 1942

Sabbath School educational booklet in German for March 13-31, 1945

Miscellanea, 1935 and undated


Hair of Matilda Troutman with obituary, January 17, 1935 Hair of horse Linus, “The Oregon Wonder”


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