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Allan Hancock Foundation Archive
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Preferred Citation
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Scope and Content
  • Historical note
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Processing note
  • Separated Materials
  • Related Archival Materials
  • Organization

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: USC Libraries Special Collections
    Title: Allan Hancock Foundation Archive
    creator: Taylor, William Randolph
    creator: Schmitt, Waldo L. (Waldo Lasalle)
    creator: Allan Hancock Foundation
    creator: Swett, W. Charles
    creator: Ulrey, A.B. (Albert Brennus)
    creator: Hancock, Allan
    creator: Garth, John S. (John Shrader)
    Identifier/Call Number: 0257
    Physical Description: 755.49 Linear Feet 379 boxes, 86 film boxes, 738 film reels
    Date (inclusive): 1823-2005
    Abstract: The Allan Hancock Foundation Archive contains records of the Foundation set up at the University of Southern California by G. Allan Hancock for the purpose of furthering oceanographic studies. These records also include those materials from the library and museum that were associated with the Foundation, as well some personal mementos of Captain Hancock's and the Hancock family. Also included are extensive records of the research ship Velero IV, as well as sound recordings, photographs and films produced by and related to the Allan Hancock Pacific Expeditions of the Foundation (1925-1960). The expeditions explored the eastern Pacific coast into South America, visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, Panama, and Baja California.
    Storage Unit: 366-368
    Storage Unit: 369-371
    Storage Unit: 372-374
    Storage Unit: 375
    Storage Unit: 376-377

    Preferred Citation

    [Item/Box/Folder number], Allan Hancock Foundation Archive, Collection no. 0257, Special Collections, USC Libraries, University of Southern California

    Conditions Governing Access

    Advance notice required for access.

    Scope and Content

    The Hancock Foundation Archive consists of correspondence, reports, clippings, photographs, sound recordings, film, and other materials, 1823-2005, documenting the activities and history of the Hancock Foundation at the University of Southern California, its founder G. Allan Hancock, and the Hancock family. Included are records of the Foundation's scientific and research activities in marine biology and zoology; the Foundation's Library; the Hancock Museum, housed in the Foundation building on the USC campus; and the research vessel Velero IV, the second of Captain Hancock's ships put into service for research purposes. Also included are historical documents regarding the Hancock family's land interests in Los Angeles, and material documenting the non-scientific interests of Captain Hancock.

    Historical note

    George Allan Hancock was born on 26 July 1875, the heir to the Hancock family's extensive Los Angeles land holdings, including Rancho La Brea. Hancock expanded the family fortunes through oil exploration on the Rancho beginning in 1901, and continued to increase those fortunes for the next two decades. In 1920, he founded the California Bank. By the middle of the 1920's he also had significant holdings in railroads and communications.
    In addition to his business skills, Hancock was an accomplished cellist and an avid sailor. He formed the Hancock Ensemble, later associated with the Foundation, and captained many of the Foundation's early scientific expeditions, including those to the Galapagos Islands. In 1934, as a result of an early Foundation expedition, he became involved in a tabloid sensation concerning Germans living in a "Garden of Eden" nudist colony on Galapagos. There were several mysterious murders in the colony, and Hancock was said to have "rescued" the companion of one of the victims.
    Hancock also served on the University of Southern California's Board of Regents, and in 1937 was granted an honorary doctoral degree in Business Administration by the University. Very soon thereafter Hancock initiated plans to establish a Foundation for Oceanography at USC. The Allan Hancock Foundation continued the work begun by USC's Venice Marine Station and Professor Albert Ulrey. In turn, it was ultimately superceded in the 1990's by the Catalina Station.
    In 1939 Hancock funded the construction of a new building for the Foundation. The building was dedicated in 1941 and included, in addition to an auditorium and laboratories, a museum and a library. The Hancock Museum became a showplace for Hancock's and USC's collection of fine artifacts, especially furnishings from the Hancock residence in Hancock Park (demolished), some of the rooms of which are recreated in the museum. The Library gained its first large collection in the 1943 when it purchased much of the nineteenth century serials collection of the Boston Society of Natural History. Subsequent purchases continued to expand the Library's collections. The collection has now been subsumed by the USC Libraries.
    With the dedication of the new Foundation building, Hancock also donated his yacht, the Velero III, to USC for oceanographic studies. The Velero III had been in service for oceanographic studies since the early 1930s with the first Hancock Pacific Expeditions. In 1948 a new ship, the Velero IV, was commissioned exclusively for the use of the Foundation; it remained in service until the mid-1980's.
    Hancock died on 1 June 1965. The Foundation, Museum, and Library he established continued to function in their original forms for three more decades until they were absorbed into other USC operations.

    Conditions Governing Use

    All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections 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.

    Processing note

    The first 20 boxes of the archive's records were processed by John Fowler in 2005. Most of the sound recordings, negatives and films were inventoried by Special Collections staff prior to the creation of this finding aid. In 2011-2012, Sue Luftschein completed the processing of the bulk of the collection, encoded the original inventory, and produced this finding aid.

    Separated Materials

    The Hancock Foundation Archive originally included many linear feet of journals and off-prints of Foundation publications. These were separated from the collection to be cataloged individually for inclusion in USC Librariers' OPAC, Homer.

    Related Archival Materials

    Albert B. Ulrey and Florence Speicher Ulrey papers, Collection no. 0258, University Archives, Special Collections, USC Libraries, University of Southern California
    KUSC records, Collection no. 5133, University Archives, USC Libraries, University of Southern California


    The Allan Hancock Foundation Archives are organized into 6 series: 1. Foundation; 2. Library; 3. Museum; 4. Velero IV; 5. Hancock Estate; and 6. G. Allan Hancock personal.
    In general, files within each series and subseries are arranged alphabetically unless otherwise stated.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Underwater exploration -- California -- Photographs
    Scientific expeditions -- Galapagos Islands -- Archival resources
    Scientific expeditions -- Mexico -- Archival resouces
    Museums -- California -- Los Angeles -- Archival resources
    Libraries -- California -- Los Angeles -- Archival resouces
    Scientific expeditions -- Galapagos Islands -- Photographs
    Science and technology libraries -- California -- Los Angeles -- Archival resources
    Scientific expeditions -- Mexico -- Photographs
    Los Angeles (Calif.) -- History -- Archival resources
    Galapagos Islands -- Photographs
    Mexico -- Photographs
    Lantern slides
    Underwater exploration -- California -- Archival resources
    Actions and defenses -- California -- Los Angeles -- Archival resources
    Panama -- Photographs
    Financial records
    Cocos (Keeling) Islands -- Photographs
    Ecuador -- Photographs
    Legal documents
    Nicaragua -- Photographs
    La Brea Pits (Calif.) -- History -- Archival resources
    Marine biology research vessels -- California -- Archival resources
    Colombia -- Photographs
    Marine biology -- Research -- California -- Archival resources
    Library administration -- California -- Los Angeles -- Archival resources
    Collection management (Libraries) -- California -- Los Angeles -- Archival resources
    Motion pictures (visual works)
    Logs (records)
    Sound recordings
    Negatives (photographic)
    Biological specimens -- Collection and preservation -- Photographs
    Zoological specimens -- Collection and preservation -- Photographs
    Zoological specimens -- Collection and preservation -- Archival resources
    Bolivia -- Photographs
    Seri Indians -- Mexico -- Photographs
    Costa Rica -- Photographs
    Peru -- Photographs
    Slides (photographs)
    University of Southern California. Marine Biological Station -- Archives
    Ulrey, A.B. (Albert Brennus) -- Archives
    University of Southern California -- Faculty
    Anton Dohrn (Ship) -- Archives
    Halmos, Dorothy M. -- Archives
    Eltanin (Ship) -- Archives
    McCulloch, Irene Agnes -- Archives
    Boston Society of Natural History -- Archives
    Velero III (Ship) -- Archives
    Taylor, William Randolph
    KUSC (Radio station : Los Angeles, Calif.) -- Archives
    R/V Velero IV (Cruiser) -- Archives
    Schmitt, Waldo L. (Waldo Lasalle)
    Hancock family -- Archives
    Schmitt, Waldo L. (Waldo Lasalle) -- Correspondence
    University of Southern California -- History
    Allan Hancock Foundation -- Archives
    Allan Hancock Foundation
    Swett, W. Charles
    Hancock, Allan -- Archives
    Ulrey, A.B. (Albert Brennus)
    Hancock, Allan
    Garth, John S. (John Shrader) -- Archives
    Garth, John S. (John Shrader)