Guide to the William Hammond Hall Papers, 1873-1911 Collection number: MS 915 MS 915

Finding aid prepared by Prepared by California Historical Society staff; revised by David Krah.
California Historical Society
678 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA, 94105
2001, revised 2009

Title: William Hammond Hall papers
Date (inclusive): 1873-1911
Collection Number: MS 915
Creator: Hall, Wm. Ham. (William Hammond)
Physical Description: 9 boxes, including 13 volumes, 13 oversize folders (3.5 linear feet)
Contributing Institution: California Historical Society
678 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA, 94105
Language of Materials: Collection materials are in English
Physical Location: Collection is stored onsite.
Abstract: The William Hammond Hall papers (MS915) consists of correspondence, technical reports, scrapbooks, and blueprints generated during his time as the first State Engineer of California (1879-1889), as a supervising engineer for the U.S. Geological Survey (1889), and as a private civil engineer designing dams and irrigation projects in California, Utah, Washington and southern Africa. Correspondence includes letters written to California Governors William Irwin and George clement Perkins in his capacity as State Engineer, and extensive correspondence with Frederick Law Olmstead & Co. regarding the Allesandro (California) town improvement project. Reports include U.S. Geological Survey materials from the California and Lahontan divisions, as well as reports relating to the construction of the Santa Ana Canal, the Northern Pacific, Yakima, and Kittitas Irrigation Co., dams on the Sacramento, Yuba, American, and Feather Rivers, and irrigation projects in the California Central Valley. Additionally, there are reports and miscellaneous notes on subjects such as artesian wells, stream gauging, sewage, and other hydrology topics. Blueprints in the collection date from Hall's time as a private engineer, and include plans relating to the Santa Ana Canal project (California), Central Irrigation District projects (California), the Northern Pacific, Yakima, and Kittitas Irrigation Co. (Washington), and miscellaneous plans and maps from projects built in southern Africa. The scrapbooks contain newspaper clippings pertaining to Hall's professional interests, including 3 volumes relating to irrigation and the cultivation of crops, 2 volumes relating to river and flood control, and clippings relating to Supreme Court decisions concerning irrigation and water rights.

Information for Researchers


Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to the California Historical Society. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Director of Research Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the California Historical Society 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 by the reader.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], William Hammond Hall Papers, MS 915. California Historical Society.

National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collection Number

NUCMC 82-389

Related Collections

Title: William Hammond Hall Papers, 1878-1914.
Identifier/Call Number: MS 913
Title: William Hammond Hall Letterbooks.
Identifier/Call Number: MS 914
Title: California Historical Society Photography Collection--General Subjects--Agriculture--Irrigation
Identifier/Call Number: GS:Box 003

Subjects and Indexing Terms

California. Office of State Engineer. Records and Correspondence.
Geological Survey (U.S.). Water Resources Division. California District.
California--Environmental conditions.
California--Officials and employees.
Letter books.
Water-supply engineering--California

Index to Correspondence

Allesandro Park Plan Box 1, folder 2A
Bancroft, A.L. Box 1, folder 2
Bear Valley Irrigation Project Box 1, folder 3
California State Prison (San Quentin) Box 1, folder 2
California State Prison (San Quentin) Box 1, folder 1
Crocker, Charles T. Box 1, folder 3
Grant Brothers Box 1, folder 3
Haggin, J.B. Box 1, folder 1
Hanks, Henry G. Box 1, folder 2
Frederick Law Olmstead & Co. Box 1, folder 2A
Johnson, James A. Box 1, folder 1
Miller & Lux Box 1, folder 1
Raymond, William Box 1, folder 2
Riverside County Box 1, folder 2
Rudisill, H.J. Box 1, folder 2
Ryer, Dr. W.M. Box 1, folder 1
Schuyler, James D. Box 1, folder 2
Shorb, J. de Barth Box 1, folder 2
Southern Pacific Railroad Box 1, folder 1
Topp, T.U. Box 1, folder 1
Tucker, G.H. Box 1, folder 1
Wharton, J.F. Box 1, folder 1

Administrative Information


Papers comprising collection MS915 were acquired by donation from Katherine Buchanan Hall, daughter of William Hammond Hall in 1951.


No additions are expected.

Processing History

Processed with the assistance of Dr. Otto H. Pflueger, 1971.

Biography of William Hammond Hall

William Hammond Hall was a California engineer who served as Superintendent and Engineer of Golden Gate Park (1871-1876), a consultant in the grading and development of the University of California campus at Berkeley (1872-1873), chief engineer for the Central and West Side Irrigation Districts (1870s), the first State Engineer of California (1879-1889), and Supervising Engineer of the Irrigation Bureau at the United States Geological Survey (1889). Beginning in 1890, he worked in the private sector as a civil engineer.

Scope and Contents

Compiled in the office of State Engineer (California), 1878-1888, and Division Engineer, U.S. Geological Survey. Includes survey reports of California rivers and the land surrounding them, blueprints of projects from private civil engineering practice, and correspondence.


The William Hammond Hall papers are arranged in four series: Series I - Correspondence, Series II - Reports, Series III - Scrapbooks of Newspaper Clippings, Series IV - Blueprints.
Series I - Correspondence is organized chronologically, by format, and in two cases by correspondent: 4 volumes of letterbooks (including one dedicated to communication with California Governors), and 4 folders of unbound correspondence, including 1 folder consisting of correspondence with Frederick Law Olmstead & Co.
Series II - Reports is organized chronologically, with one subseries consisting of reports authored for the U.S. Geological Survey.
Series III - Scrapbooks of Newspaper Clippings is organized first by subject, then chronologically.
Series IV - Blueprints is arranged by project and ordered according to an internal numbering system (K numbers). Unnumbered blueprints appear at the beginning of the series, with the remainder organized sequentially and grouped by project.