Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Ben Yellen / Charles L. Smith correspondence
MSS 0667  
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (60.07 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Acquisition Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Publication Rights
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Creator: Yellen, Ben, 1907-
    Title: Ben Yellen / Charles L. Smith correspondence,
    Date (inclusive): 1960 - 2006
    Extent: 0.20 linear feet (1 archive box)
    Abstract: The Ben Yellen correspondence with Charles L. Smith files contain mainly correspondence in the form of prescription-pad notes (1960-1970s) from Yellen to Smith regarding water rights in Imperial County (Calif.), writings and lists (1970-1999) created by Smith about Yellen, and a small amount of miscellaneous materials such as notes and newspaper articles regarding the Imperial Valley.
    Repository: University of California, San Diego. Geisel Library. Mandeville Special Collections Library.
    La Jolla, California 92093-0175
    Collection number: MSS 0667
    Language of Material: Collection materials in English


    Collection is open for research.

    Acquisition Information

    Not Available

    Preferred Citation

    Ben Yellen / Charles L. Smith correspondence, MSS 0667. Mandeville Special Collections Library, UCSD.

    Publication Rights

    Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.


    Charles L. Smith, of Berkeley, California, was a self-described "sympathetic fellow pamphleteer" and self-appointed bibliographer, who worked for the Planning Department at the Division of Highways (now Caltrans). In the 1960s, he first became acquainted with Yellen, an activist physician pamphleteer of the Imperial Valley, California, when Smith was working on a bibliography on rural water use and the 160 acre water limitation law. This law would later figure prominently in Yellen's lawsuits involving the Imperial Irrigation District. As part of Smith's work duties, he would read newspapers looking for local discussion of transportation projects, and during lunchtimes, would review these same newspapers for other items of interest to himself and to Yellen. He would send Yellen newspaper clippings or obtain and ship article reprints to Yellen via Greyhound Express and Yellen would reimburse him.
    After Yellen's death in 1994, as a demonstration of Smith's admiration for Yellen's quest for justice, Smith attempted to get a statue dedicated to Yellen and worked to preserve his accomplishments. Smith collected correspondence that Yellen sent to him on small prescription-pad note paper that spanned two decades (1960-1970s), wrote essays critiquing Dr. Yellen's pamphleteering methods, prepared lists of articles about Yellen, and sent copies of Yellen's newsletters to various archives.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The files contain mainly correspondence in the form of prescription-pad notes from Yellen to Smith regarding articles and reprints that Smith would procure for Yellen and ship to Brawley, California, for Yellen's use. Also included are writings and lists by Smith about Yellen, and newspaper articles on subjects of interest to both men. The files are arranged in four series: 1) CORRESPONDENCE, 2) WRITINGS, 3) MISCELLANEOUS MATERIALS, and 4) ORIGINALS OF PRESERVATION PHOTOCOPIES.
    The CORRESPONDENCE series contains correspondence from and to Dr. Ben Yellen, much of which consists of small prescription-pad notes (1960-1970s) to Smith from Yellen, often requesting reprints of newspaper articles that Smith had discovered. In addition, there are samples of typical Yellen correspondence; to then U.S. president-elect William Jefferson Clinton, a letter to the "Dear Abby" newspaper column, a "Voice of the People" letter to the editor, as well as some correspondence by Smith to others concerning Yellen. The files are arranged alphabetically by correspondent.
    The WRITINGS series includes a typescript of the flyer/mailer Smith sent out advocating for a statue of Yellen to be placed in either Brawley, El Centro, or at the University of California, San Diego; lists entitled, "Newsletters of Dr. Ben Yellen, 1971-1991" [missing page two]; "Ben Yellen Articles by Lynn Ludlow" (former editor and retired journalist with the SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER); "Articles about Dr. Ben Yellen" (featuring a variety of newspapers); and typescript essays entitled, "The Saga of Dr. Ben Yellen, M.D. and Prof. Paul Taylor;" [Paul Taylor was an economics professor at UC Berkeley, and husband of photographer Dorothea Lange, who became absorbed in California water issues] and "A Critique of Dr. Ben Yellen's Pamphlets." The files are arranged alphabetically by title.
    The MISCELLANEOUS MATERIALS series contains a small amount of handwritten and typescript notes and newspaper articles on subjects Smith and Yellen were interested in such as a documentary on the Salton Sea and unconventional journalists in Mexico.
    The ORIGINALS OF PRESERVATION PHOTOCOPIES series contains originals of items removed for preservation purposes.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    Yellen, Ben, 1907- -- Archives
    Imperial Irrigation District (Calif.)
    Desert Growers Assoc
    Water transfer -- California, Southern
    Water-supply -- California, Southern
    Irrigation water -- California, Southern
    Water resources development -- California, Southern -- Finance
    Water rights -- California, Southern -- History
    Imperial Valley (Calif. and Mexico)
    Brawley (Calif.)
    Imperial County (Calif.)


    Smith, Charles L., -- correspondent