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Guide to the Hotel del Coronado Records
MS-0025  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Historical Note:
  • Access Terms
  • Administrative Information
  • Arrangement of Materials:
  • Scope and Contents

  • Overview of the Collection

    Collection Title: Hotel del Coronado Records
    Dates: 1888-1995
    Bulk Dates: 1888-1935
    Identification: MS-0025
    Creator: Hotel del Coronado
    Physical Description: 55.00 linear ft
    Alternate Extent Statement: 303 volumes, 15 boxes
    Language of Materials: English
    Repository: Special Collections & University Archives
    5500 Campanile Dr. MC 8050
    San Diego, CA, 92182-8050
    URL: http://library.sdsu.edu/scua
    Email: scref@rohan.sdsu.edu
    Phone: 619-594-6791
    Note:
    Other Information:
    An index to the first four years of correspondence (1883-1892) is available as a large, keyword-searchable PDF file here: http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/nas/streaming/dept/scuastaf/collections/HotelDel/HoteldelIndex.pdf

    Historical Note:

    The Hotel del Coronado has been a noted landmark in the history of Coronado and the greater San Diego area since its groundbreaking, and has been a National Historic Landmark since 1977. Beginning with two visionary men, Elijah Babcock and H.L. Story, the mission to build one of the greatest hotel resorts in the world became a reality. Since its opening in 1888, the Hotel del Coronado has become a world-renowned destination. From the use of early cutting edge technologies (such as providing guests with telephone service and electricity), to its ideal atmosphere for entertaining, to its Victorian elegance and charm, the Hotel del Coronado is truly one of a kind. The Hotel del Coronado has touched the lives of most San Diegans, and has attracted numerous notable names throughout the world including Presidents Benjamin Harrison and Richard Nixon, world dignitaries, movie stars, and other world figures such as Charles Lindberg.
    The Hotel del Coronado has had a number of owners throughout its history, including Elijah S. Babcock, Hampton Story, John D. Spreckels, John Alessio, and Larry Lawrence. The Coronado Beach Company was created to help fund the construction of the Hotel, and continued to own many of the facilities available to the public after the Hotel was completed, as can be seen in the records of the Hotel del Coronado which detail dealings with services such as waterways to railroads.
    The Hotel del Coronado has a rich history from its amazingly quick construction, its illustrious guest list, and its reputation for excellence as a Hotel.

    Access Terms

    This collection is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.

    Corporate Name:

    Hotel del Coronado (Coronado, Calif.)
    Hotel del Coronado (Coronado, Calif.) -- Archives
    Hotel del Coronado (Coronado, Calif.) -- History -- Sources

    Genre/Form of Material:

    Artifacts
    Corporate Records
    Digital Records
    Microforms
    Photographs

    Geographic Name:

    Coronado (Calif.) -- History -- Sources
    Coronado (Calif.) -- Social life and customs
    San Diego (Calif.) -- History

    Topical Term:

    Hotels -- California -- Coronado -- History -- Sources
    Hotels -- Coronado (Calif.)

    Administrative Information

    Accruals:

    1977

    Conditions Governing Use:

    The copyright interests in some of these materials have been transferred to or belong to San Diego State University. The nature of historical archival and manuscript collections means that copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine. Copyright resides with the creators of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. Requests for permission to publish must be submitted to the Head of Special Collections, San Diego State University, Library and Information Access. Permissions is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical item and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder(s), which must also be obtained in order to publish.  Materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials.

    Conditions Governing Access:

    This collection is open for research.

    Preferred Citation:

    Identification of item, folder title, box number, Hotel del Coronado Records, Special Collections and University Archives, Library and Information Access, San Diego State University.

    Related Materials:

    San Diego Photograph Collection
    San Diego Memorabilia Collection
    John and Jane Adams Postcard Collection
    Louise Patterson Scrapbook

    Arrangement of Materials:

    I. Bound Correspondence, 1888-1907
    II. Guest Registers, 1888-1926
    III. Room Books, 1888-1905
    IV. Reservation Records, 1901-1910
    V. Room Books of Guests’ Hometowns, 1898-1931
    VI. Mail Books, 1900-1932
    VII. Mailing Lists, 1890-1903
    VIII. Miscellaneous Guest Records, 1893-1931
    IX. Boarder’s Ledgers, 1892-1905
    X. Room Books of Financial Records, 1904-1953
    XI. Miscellany, 1900-1925
    XII. Coronado Tent City, 1917-1928
    XIII. Coronado Country Club, 1912-1930
    XIV. Scrapbooks, 1903-1970
    XV. Photographs, 1840-1973
    XVI. Incoming Correspondence, 1911
    XVII. Hotel Renovations, 1918-1943
    XVIII. Hotel del Coronado Dining, 1888-1979
    XIX. Miscellaneous Boxed Materials, 1920-1978
    XX. Newspaper Clippings, 1922-1998
    XXI. Artifacts
    XXII. Preservation Media

    Scope and Contents

    Please note that the first fourteen series of this collection are bound volumes. The remaining series consist of boxes of various materials.
    The collection is organized into the following series:
    I. Bound Correspondence, 1888-1907
    The bound correspondence of this collection consists of copies of outgoing letters on onion skin paper and are mostly type written and signed, although a few volumes are almost entirely handwritten. All eighty-nine of the volumes contain a brief index either categorized by recipients’ last name with the corresponding page number, or as many of the later volumes are, by page number with the last name of the letters’ recipients.
    The majority of the volumes of bound correspondence are copies of letters from the Hotel del Coronado’s President and Manager, Elijah S. Babcock (1849-1922) and are mostly professional in content, thought there are a few letters which are labeled “personal.” Beginning in 1904, we begin to see letters from the new Manager, Morgan Ross. The bound outgoing correspondence deals with a variety of topics related to the management of the early Hotel del Coronado, including letters to personnel, the early San Diego Water Company, the building of the Otay dam, streetlights, the Coronado ferry, and the Coronado Railway, as well as letters to guests about reservations and Hotel promotion throughout the country.
    II. Guest Registers, 1888-1926
    These registers are mostly oversized volumes which contain guests’ signatures, dates and room numbers dating from January 29, 1888 through August 23, 1926. These registers vary in appearance as some contain an appendix to other hotels in the United States titled, “American Hotel Register Company’s Hotel Guide” and others contain stamped and guild advertisements from various shops and services in San Diego (for example, “Prof. G.A. Williams, Ladies Hair Dresser, Wig Maker, Manicure, Chiropodist, Face Massage and Steaming, Superfluous Hair Removed by Electricity 859 Fifth Street”). Also included are advertisements for the Ostrich Farm on Coronado beach. Some of the later volumes contain pages of advertisements throughout the sign-in pages.
    The earlier registers are under the manager John B. Seghers, Jr. but quickly change to E.S. Babcock and then to Morgan Ross. Volume number 107 contains the signature of the famous Hotel del Coronado ghost, Kate Morgan. She signed in under the name of “Miss Lottie A. Bernard” from Detroit, and was given Room 308 on November 24, 1892. In addition, this register series houses volume 152 which on March 28, 1905 was signed by Henry James (1843-1916), the American writer known for such works as Portrait of a Lady.
    III. Room Books, 1888-1905
    Exact dates in this series are not always given, as the books are arranged as a large index in alphabetical order by guests’ last name. Each index letter entry has its own time span. Some of these books are almost entirely blank. This series contains the same information as Series II Guest Registers, including name (though not a signature), the check in date, and room number. However, in addition to the above information this series includes detailed descriptions of Hotel expenses, including laundry services, telegram charges and wine. Some of the more famous guest who can be found in this series are Abercrombie and Fitch who were checked in on October of 1890 in volume number 191, each under the corresponding first letter of their last name.
    Volume number 193 contains a chart of hotel rates, “The ‘HW’ Hotel Rate Table for sale only by ‘The World Hotel,’ Chicago” on the front pastedown of the book. Volume 198 contains “Southern California Coupons” with hotel rates posted in the front cover. Also some of the books contain handwritten lists of discounts for services allowed to certain special guests, such as boarders. In addition, volume 201 contains newspaper clippings about the train schedule.
    IV. Reservation Records, 1901-1910
    This series of reservation books has handwritten entries organized in chronological order by dates with guests’ names, number of persons in party, and room preferences, along with notes. Some of these volumes contain an index in the front, though none of them have been filled out.
    Volume number 209 contains European postcards and volume 210 on page 203 has evidence of “white-out” to cover ink. Though there are few books in this series, they still provide insight into the daily management of the Hotel.
    V. Room Books of Guests’ Hometowns, 1898-1931
    This series contains guests’ names, room numbers, hometown and check-in and out dates in a large bound index. Some of the volumes in this series also contain guests’ home address. Volume 216 is organized in alphabetical order by guests’ home state, and volume 217 is organized in alphabetical order by guests’ home city. Each letter in the index has its own date span.
    VI. Mail Books, 1900-1932
    These mail books are arranged as one large bound index in alphabetical order with dates, guests’ names and addresses or hotel addresses where they can be reached or their mail forwarded to. Of note is that volume 218 contains a book plate in the front cover which reads, “Coronado Stables Rates, In Effect February 18, 1901,” followed by corresponding rates. In addition, there is also a handwritten paper pasted into the front cover with more rates dated “11/23/00” (that it “00” = 1900).
    VII. Mailing Lists, 1890-1903
    This series contains information on guests’ home addresses. Volumes 221 and 222 are organized in a large index by guests’ last name including guests name, street and number, city, and state. Existing records of the collection note that volume 223 contains doctors’ names which correspond to those found in volume 224, with corresponding page numbers. Volume 224 is organized as a large index and is labeled with: name, street no., city, state, Informant’s name, address, pamphlet, letter, answer letter, and pamphlet again. Of note is that pasted inside the front cover of this volume is an alphabetical list of the first few letters of last names with the corresponding page numbers. Volume 225 is organized much in the same way as volume 224, although there is red ink used for writing the heading letters. Volume 225 also contains a piece of paper pasted at the beginning of the book with directions on how to fill out the blank book.
    VIII. Miscellaneous Guest Records, 1893-1931
    Volume 226 of this series contains delinquent records of outstanding bills recorded in an index by delinquent’s last name. Volume 227 contains departures and room changes and is organized by date and spans across the page to include room number, departure, and number of persons in party, time, the room from which the guest is changing, a category labeled changes, and the new room number. Volumes 228 and 229 are arranged in chronological order. Of note is that volumes 228 and 229 allow a glimpse in to what foods people were eating at the Hotel del Coronado at the turn of the century as these contain bills for food from grocers which include mushrooms, oatmeal, graham flour, pineapple, turkey, lettuce, spinach, cauliflower, green peas, canned milk, cream, veal, onions, eggs, and powdered sugar. Each grocery list is organized by date and under the name of the grocer.
    IX. Boarder’s Ledgers, 1892-1905
    These volumes are arranged so that each entry spans across two pages and includes the following information: name, time of arrival, number of room, rates, wine account, telegrams, meals sent to room, fires, sundry accounts, total credit, and remarks. Some of the expenses listed for guests include laundry, drugs and baths as well. Volume 232 contains a paper pasted in the front endpaper which lists various drinks such as Absinthe, Apricot Brandy, Bourbon Whiskey, Egg Lemonade, Gin and Whiskey sours, Horkes Neck Cooler, Orangeade, and Rock & Rye Whiskey with each drink's corresponding price.
    X. Room Books of Financial Records, 1904-1953
    This series of financial records allows much research on the everyday administration of the Hotel del Coronado, including how the Hotel spent its money, how many hours Hotel personnel worked and how much they were paid, as well as what daily life was like for guests at the Hotel. Volume 238 includes cash receipts of expenses such as board, bar, billiards, slot machines and bath house and volume 239 includes cash register tickets and ticket orders for things such as 25¢ movies, bar orders, and billiards. Volume 233 is a ledger organized by guest name at the top of the page, then by date with a list of numbers and payment types. Volume 234 a ledger, is arranged by date, then names and numbers and sums with expenses such as tea room, laundry, and board. Volume 235 is an oversized ledger arranged by date while others such as volume 236 of accounts receivable is organized as a large index and includes deposit accounts. Of note is that volume 237 is compiled of a list of vendors including Pacific Laundry Dry Cleaners, and Allen’s Press Clipping, who is responsible for most of the newspaper clippings found in the Hotel del Coronado Collection. Volume 240 is in the form of a large bound index in the front of the volume, although it is almost entirely empty except for one loose leaf with information of slot machines. The rest of the volume is comprised of copies of letters on onion skin paper which provide information on Tent City café and band, as well as Hotel del Coronado “Monthly Statement of Earnings and Expenses.” The cover of this volume is labeled “Statement Reports and Exhibits.”
    XI. Miscellany, 1900-1925
    This miscellany series consists of a log book, a lost and found book, two Bell Boys’ records books, and a laundry record book. Of note is that pasted on the cover of volume 256 laundry record book is a listing of employee discounts for laundry services, however, much of this volume is blank except for some writing on one of the front end pages which mentions Tent City Café, and page 40 which is filled out. Similar to some of the other series, these materials provide information on the everyday workings of the Hotel del Coronado.
    XII. Coronado Tent City, 1917-1928
    The Coronado Tent City series consists of a general ledger, a cash book and an account book.
    XIII. Coronado Country Club, 1912-1930
    The Coronado Country Club series consists of a book of the Official Polo scores from 1912-1925, a book which contains resignation of membership dating 1913-1920 which also includes some information on resigning members such as their membership date, and a register.
    XIV. Scrapbooks, 1903-1970
    This series is comprised of scrapbooks compiled by hotel staff. These are mostly comprised of clippings which reflect society visits and activities at the Hotel, including announcements of notable visitors, menus, advertisements, and event invitations. There are also some newspaper clippings relating to the filing of "some Like it Hot" starring Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, and Tony Curtis in 1958. Volume 265 apparently did not exist. Volume 271 is currently missing (6/26/2009). Volume 304 is blank.
    XV. Photographs, 1840-1973
    This box consists of a collection of 110 photographs, of which the majority date to the 1880’s and early 1900’s, however there are also numerous pictures commemorating the opening of the Coronado Bridge in1962 including pictures of the then California Governor, Ronald Reagan, as well as a few photographs dating to the 1970s. Older prints are business-trade postcard advertisements. Many of the photographs contained in this collection have been copied as a print and are included in the same folder with the original photograph. The subject of the photos varies, however they all have the common theme of the Hotel del or the surrounding Coronado area. Included are scenery pictures of the lovely Pacific coast as well as pictures of the construction and interior of the Hotel del Coronado, Tent City, the historic Coronado Methodist Church, as well as local homes and city buildings of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in the early city of Coronado Beach.
    XVI. Incoming Correspondence, 1911
    The incoming correspondence found in Box 2 I and II is arranged alphabetically by sender’s last name; however, when there are replies to the sender they are included next to the corresponding letter and are found in the folder under the sender’s last name. Much of the content of the correspondence in Box 2 concerns payment of bills or requests for accommodations at the Hotel del Coronado, guests’ lost personal items, and requests for forwarding guests’ mail. This box also includes 3 forwarding address folders with no date which include the original index dividers.
    XVII. Hotel Renovations, 1918-1943
    This box consists of information on Hotel del Coronado upkeep and renovation. The first section is comprised of power plant files which include subheadings such as "New Electrical Units," "Oil Separator," "Pipe Cutting Machinery,' and "Nash Vacuum Pumps."
    XVIII. Hotel del Coronado Dining, 1888-1979
    This series consists of information relating to dining at the Hotel del Coronado including holiday menus, invitations, and programs. Daily reports and cookbooks are also included, which illustrate the day-to-day administration and finances of the Hotel.
    XIX. Miscellaneous Boxed Materials, 1920-1978
    This series of miscellaneous boxed materials includes photocopies of the Prince of Wales' visit to the Hotel del in 1920, an ink blotter with advertisements from a guest register from the early 1900s, parcel maps of the Hotel and surrounding areas, and information on railroads, and other means of transportation.
    XX. Newspaper Clippings, 1922-1998
    The newspaper clippings span in date through most of the twentieth century, the majority being in the 1950s and 1960s. These newspaper clippings lend insight into the social history of the Hotel del Coronado. Topics include local events, wedding announcements, and other celebrations which took place at the Hotel.
    XXI. Artifacts
    XXII. Preservation Media
    This series consists of microfilm copies of books 1-89, bound correspondence, of the Hotel del Coronado Records.