Scope and Content
Wooden, Wesley R.
Title: Wesley R. Wooden Papers,
Date (bulk): (bulk 1938-1985)
9.6 linear feet
Abstract: The Wesley R. Wooden Papers document the life of a Central Valley sheep rancher
and long-time resident of Davis, California. The collection spans the years 1900-2005 (bulk 1938-1985)
and includes personal journals documenting ranch life, a serial run of the
California Wool Grower (1940-1944), books and pamphlets on agriculture, and
records related to Wesley Wooden's civic involvement in Davis, California. Also present is a small
series of historical material related to the Pierce Ranch in Davis, California. The collection includes
diaries, correspondence, ephemera and realia, photographs, and books on agriculture.
Physical location: Researchers should contact Special Collections to request collections,
as many are stored offsite.
University of California, Davis. General Library. Department of
Davis, California 95616-5292
Collection number: D-225
Language of Material: Collection materials in English
Wesley R. Wooden was born on October 17, 1912 at Elk River in Humboldt County, California. His parents
were Ralph and Alina Brask Wooden. At the age of 12, Wooden took a summer job as a "chore boy" for the
Russ Market Company Blocksburg Ranch in southern Humboldt County. He worked on ranches every summer
until 1930, when he started college at Humboldt State College in Arcata, California. Wooden later
attended the University of California at Berkeley part time from 1931-1940, taking classes in
Engineering, Journalism, Forestry and Agricultural Economics. In February, 1937, Wooden worked on his
first sheep ranch, located in Humboldt County, California.
In 1937, Wooden was appointed temporary Forest Ranger Inspector for Humboldt County in the United States
Department of Agriculture's Range Rehabilitation program. In May, 1938, he accepted a job as foreman of
a Russ Ranch, north of Vallejo. A bout with tuberculosis interrupted his studies at Berkeley in 1939,
and he spent time convalescing on a Russ Market Company sheep ranch near Cape Mendocino, California.
In the spring of 1940, during his senior year, Wooden transferred to the University Farm School (now the
University of California, Davis) in order to concentrate on animal science, While at the University Farm
School, Wooden met fellow student, Katherine Lilienthal, who he married on December 19, 1940. Wesley and
Katherine had three children: Wayne (1944- ), Marilyn (1949- ), and Joan (1952- ). In 1941, the Woodens
managed Rancho Los Medanos in Contra Costa County; within the year, the United States Army had taken
over the ranch to build Camp Stoneman. Beginning in 1941, Wooden worked as a ranch manager in Birds
Landing in Solano County. In 1942, the Woodens leased a sheep and grain ranch in the Montezuma Hills
near Rio Vista. In 1947, Wooden rented a ranch in Dixon. The Woodens moved permanently to Davis after
purchasing a ranch in 1948.
Wooden became a registered Corriedale sheep breeder in Davis in 1948 and won numerous national and
international awards for the quality of his sheep. In 1957, Wooden was named Outstanding Corriedale
Breeder of the year. Wooden later worked as a Realtor for Brinley Real Estate, specializing in ranch and
farm sales. He served as President of the Yolo County Board of Realtors in 1974, and was named Realtor
of the year by the board in 1975.
In his later years, Wooden volunteered in civic affairs, youth related activities, and the Davis Senior
Center. In 1985, Wooden received awards as "Senior Citizen of the Year" and the Brinley Award for
Special Merit for service to the community, both sponsored by the City of Davis. In 2005, with the
assistance of his son Wayne Wooden, Professor of Sociology at California State Polytechnic University,
Pomona, Wesley Wooden self-published his memoirs, titled, "Sheep Man: Time Remembered". The book is a
compilation of Wooden's journals. In it, Wooden wrote that his "love of the land, all growing things,
and my fellow man" was what led him to follow his path in life. Wesley Wooden died on November 11, 2005
in Davis at the age of 93.
Scope and Content
The Wesley R. Wooden Papers span the years from 1900 to 2005, with the bulk of the material falling between
1938 and 1985. The collection is arranged in seven series: 1. Biographical Materials, 2. Writings, 3.
Work Records, 4. Pierce Ranch, 5. Ephemera and Realia, 6. Published Material, and 7. Photographic
Materials. The collection contains material reflecting Wooden's early experiences as a ranch hand in
Northern California, his life as a Corriedale sheep breeder and rancher in Yolo County, and his civic
involvement with the city of Davis, California. The material related to Wooden's ranching years
documents the sheep industry and the wool trade in California during the Great Depression, World War II
and the 1950s. The collection also documents Wesley Wooden's environmental interests and his fund
raising efforts on behalf of the Davis, California Senior Center. Also contained in the collection is a
small series of historical material related to the Pierce Ranch in Davis, California.
The following material has been separated from the Wesley R. Wooden Papers:
"National Farm and Home Hour" recording on 78 RPM record. Located in O-014, Audio-Visual Collection.
The following collections at Special Collections relate to the Wesley R. Wooden Papers:
D-195, California Wool Growers' Association Archives, 1923-1957: This collection includes membership
information, speeches, financial statements, minutes of the annual convention, correspondence,
convention and banquet programs, photographs, and newspaper clippings.
D-018, John W. Maillard, III. Archives: records of sheep breeding and wool production on Maillard's
Merino sheep ranch, 1930-1960.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online
public access catalog.
Wooden, Wesley R.--Archives.
Collection is open for research.
Gift of Wesley R. Wooden in 2003, 2004, and 2005.
[Identification of item], Wesley R. Wooden Papers, D-225, Department of Special Collections, General
Library, University of California, Davis.
Copyright is protected by the copyright law, chapter 17, of the U.S. Code. All requests for permission to
publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections.
Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Department of Special Collections, University of
California, Library, Davis 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 researcher.