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Finding aid to the Helen Holdredge Collection, 1849-1979 SFH 36
SFH 36  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Provenance
  • Related Materials
  • Processing note
  • Biographical note
  • Scope and Contents
  • Arrangement

  • Title: Helen Holdredge Collection,
    Date (inclusive): 1849-1979
    Date (bulk): 1951-1972
    Collection Identifier: SFH 36
    Creator: Holdredge, Helen O'Donnell
    Physical Description: 12.0 boxes (6.0 cubic feet)
    Contributing Institution: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library
    100 Larkin Street
    San Francisco, CA, 94102
    (415) 557-4567
    info@sfpl.org
    Abstract: The collection contains research materials and draft manuscripts for Holdredge's books on Mary Ellen Pleasant, Thomas and Teresa Bell, Lola Montez, Isaiah W. Lees, and Lillie Hitchcock Coit. It also includes some correspondence about her research and speaking engagements, as well as photographs and some realia.
    Physical Location: The collection is stored onsite.
    Language of Materials: Collection materials are in English.

    Access

    The collection is available for use during San Francisco History Center hours, with photographs available during Photo Desk hours. Collections that are stored offsite should be requested 48 hours in advance. Please call the San Francisco History Center for hours and information at 415-557-4567.

    Publication Rights

    All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the City Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the San Francisco Public Library as the owner of the physical items.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Helen Holdredge Collection (SFH 36), San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library

    Provenance

    The Helen Holdredge Collection was donated to The San Francisco Public Library by Holdredge in several accessions from 1971 through 1982.

    Related Materials

    Researchers are encouraged to also see the San Francisco Public Library's ephemera files on Mary Ellen Pleasant, Lola Montez, Isaiah Lees, and Lotta Crabtree. It is possible that some of Holdredge's collected newspaper articles may have been incorporated into these files.

    Processing note

    For many years the collection was divided into 2 major groupings (the Mary Ellen Pleasant Collection and the Lola Montez Collection) with all additional accessions organized as stand-alone collections, and with photographs separated to the San Francisco Historical Photograph collection according to subject. In 2013, the library reintegrated all of the smaller collections to form a single Helen Holdredge Collection that documents her research and writing, in addition to the primary sources that she collected.
    Many of the items have a number assigned by Holdredge. These numbers have been noted on folders but not within the finding aid.

    Biographical note

    Helen Douglas O'Donnell Holdredge is the author of several books on noteworthy and notorious San Franciscans. She was born in Duluth, Minnesota, on September 17, 1898, the daughter of Patrick J. and Martha Archer (Simpson) O'Donnell. Helen was a student at the University of Oregon, 1923-1926; and was a member of Theta Sigma Phi. She trained as an opera singer and debuted in concert in 1919. She performed with various opera companies through 1924. She was also active in theater in Laguna Beach and Sacramento.
    The primary subjects of Holdredge's books are Mary Ellen Pleasant, Lola Montez, Lillie Hitchcock Coit, Thomas Frederick Bell and Teresa Percy Bell, and Isaiah Wrigley Lees. Holdredge's books are generally quite accessible but have come under criticism for their lack of specific documentation. Her books include: The House of the Strange Woman (San Carlos, Calif.: Nourse, [1961]), Mammy Pleasant (New York: Putnam, [1953]; republished San Carlos, Calif.: Nourse, 1961), Firebell Lillie (New York: Meredith Press, [1967]), Lola Montez (London: Alvin Redman, [1957]), Mammy Pleasant's Cookbook (San Francisco: 101 Productions, [1970]), Mammy Pleasant's Partner (New York: Putnam, [1954]), and The Woman in Black: the life of Lola Montez (New York: Putnam, [1955]).
    Helen married Claire Parker Holdredge in 1926 and the couple lived in Sacramento, California. They had two children. Claire died on January 28, 1961; Helen died on March 19, 1986.

    Scope and Contents

    The collection contains research materials and draft manuscripts for Holdredge's books on Mary Ellen Pleasant, Thomas and Teresa Bell, Lola Montez, Isaiah W. Lees, and Lillie Hitchcock Coit. It also includes some correspondence about Holdredge's research and speaking engagements, as well as photographs and some realia.
    The largest series are the Writings and the Research Files for Mary Ellen Pleasant. The first contains book drafts. But is also includes notes on writing style, with particular references to the Brontes, and on how to convey a story. In addition, the Interview books in the Mary Ellen Pleasant subseries contain several references to lawyer John McNab's recommendations for emending drafts of the book "Beware of Mammy Pleasant" (published as Mammy Pleasant).
    The Pleasant subseries includes several primary documents by Mary Ellen Pleasant and Teresa Bell. Several of these documents, most especially the Bell diaries, include Holdredge's tabbed entries with her notes in pencil on important points for her books. Holdredge's research on Mary Ellen Pleasant includes material on the experience of African-Americans in the United States, specifically San Francisco, and the work of abolitionists.

    Arrangement

    The collection is arranged into five series: Series 1. Correspondence; Series 2. Writings; Series 3. Research; Series 4. Photographs; and Series 5. Realia.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Bell, Teresa, d. 1922
    Bell, Thomas Frederick, 1819 or 20-1892
    Coit, Lillie Hitchcock, 1843-1929
    Lees, Isaiah W., 1830-1902
    Montez, Lola, 1818-1861
    Pleasant, Mary Ellen, 1814-1904