Scope and Content
Related Collections at the California State Archives
Related Collections at Other Repositories
Title: Dept. of Parks and Recreation Records
Collection number: R191
State Park Commission
State Park and Recreation Commission
Dept. of Natural Resources, Division of Parks
Dept. of Natural Resources, Division of Beaches and Parks
52 cubic feet including 30 maps
California State Archives
Abstract: The Dept. of Parks and Recreation was originally named the Dept. of Natural Resources when first created in 1927. The records
of the Dept. of Parks and Recreation consist of fifty-two cubic feet and include thirty maps covering the years 1907 to 2003,
with the bulk of the records covering 1929 to 1991.
Physical location: California State Archives
Languages represented in the collection:
Collection is open for research.
For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact the California State Archives. Permission for reproduction or publication
is given on behalf of the California State Archives as the owner of the physical items. The researcher assumes all responsibility
for possible infringement which may arise from reproduction or publication of materials from the California State Archives
[Identification of item], Dept. of Parks and Recreation Records, R191.[Series number] [Box]:[folder], California State Archives,
Office of the Secretary of State, Sacramento, California.
Acquisition and Custodial History
Frederick A. Meyer became Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.'s assistant in 1946 as a graduate student at the University of California,
Berkeley. Meyer then worked for the Dept. of Parks and Recreation and its predecessor agencies from 1947 until 1980. After
Olmsted died in 1957, Meyer began collecting Olmsted's records during the early 1960s when he discovered that many of Olmsted's
records had been discarded when agency headquarters moved from San Francisco to the Sacramento location during the early 1940s.
He transferred the remaining Olmsted records to the California State Archives beginning in 1989 through 1992.
The Dept. of Parks and Recreation was originally named the Dept. of Natural Resources when first created in 1927 by Chapter
128. The bill also allowed for a new Division of Parks to be established within the department. The Legislature introduced
three more park-related bills that same year. Chapter 763 created the state's first State Park Commission with executive and
administrative authority over the state park program. Chapter 764 provided for a survey of potential park areas for acquisition
as state parks. Chapter 765 provided for the submission of a $6 million bond issue that would provide funds for state park
acquisition purposes. According to Chapter 765, each dollar of state funds would have to be matched by funds or land from
local or private sources before acquisition could proceed. Governor C. C. Young signed the bills in May 1927. The State Park
Bond Act passed in the 1928 general election.
The first State Park Commission consisted of five members: chairman William E. Colby, and members Dr. Ray Lyman Wilbur, Henry
W. O'Melveny, Major Frederick Russell Burham, and Senator Wilbur F. Chandler. The commissioners offered landscape architect
Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. (1867-1957) the job of surveying possible state park sites. Olmsted's efforts resulted in the California
State Parks Survey, published in 1929. The commissioners accepted the recommendations outlined in the survey and began a program
California's coastal population increased in the late 1930s, and with this change came an increase in beach acquisitions.
On June 2, 1941 Governor Culbert Olson signed Chapter 550 authorizing the Division of Parks to change its name to the Division
of Beaches and Parks to reflect the new emphasis on beach properties. The State Park Commission received $15 million from
the 1945 Omnibus Park Acquisition Bill. The Commission again hired Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. as an advisor on inland park
acquisition and development in 1945. Already working on the acquisition of the Calaveras South Grove and highway design in
several north coast parks for the Commission, Olmsted agreed to provide recommendations for projects such as the town of Columbia
and scenic highways along the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers. He submitted his reports beginning in 1946 but did not present
the final General Report on Potential State Park and Recreational Areas until 1950.
Passed on March 15, 1961 by the California Legislature, Assembly Concurrent Resolution (ACR) 25 directed the Dept. of Natural
Resources through the Division of Beaches and Parks to undertake a study of the historical resources of the state and to formulate
a long-range plan for the preservation, restoration, and interpretation of the historical resources and values of the state.
The Division of Beaches and Parks never officially adopted the resulting program, the Historical Resources Study.
The National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966 mandated states to implement a comprehensive state historic preservation
plan, conduct a statewide survey of historic sites, nominate properties to the National Register of Historic Places, and administer
a matching grants-in-aid program for survey activities, planning activities, and for acquisition and development projects.
An historic preservation plan was not formulated until after 1967, when new Division director William Penn Mott, Jr. reorganized
the Division of Beaches and Parks and the Division of Recreation into the Dept. of Parks and Recreation (DPR). Governor Ronald
Reagan signed Chapter 1179 on August 15, 1967 authorizing the name change. Under the same legislation, the State Park Commission
merged with the Recreation Commission, becoming the State Park and Recreation Commission and increased from five members to
nine members. Governor Reagan then designated Mott as State Liaison Officer in March 1967, with the authority to implement
the NHPA in California.
In 1969 the National Parks Service provided $40,000 to California for the purposes of developing a National Register of Historic
Sites and a California History Plan. Completed in 1973, California History Plan Volume I, the Comprehensive Preservation Program
recommended methods of improving preservation efforts, summarized the history of California, and described the status of historic
preservation in the state. California History Plan Volume II, the Statewide Inventory of Historic Sites included an ongoing
inventory of the state's historic resources. California History Plan Volume III, the Annual Preservation Program reported
the status of the California History Preservation Program, long-range preservation goals, and immediate plans and preservation
activities. DPR updated Volume III until 1975, when DPR created the Office of Historic Preservation.
The California Historical Landmarks Advisory Committee originally served as the official review board for nominations to the
National Register of Historic Places. The committee approved their first nomination in July 1970. From July 1, 1972 to October
20, 1975 the new History Preservation Section of the Dept. of Parks and Recreation assumed responsibility for the nominations.
In late October 1975, the Dept. of Parks and Recreation created the Office of Historic Preservation (OHP) directed by the
State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO). Under the jurisdiction of the DPR, the OHP accepted all the duties concerning
historic preservation in California, including National Register nominations. Nominations are based on evidence of the property's
physical integrity, architectural style, historical or archaeological significance, or connection to a significant person
or place. Applications are denied for failing to meet the required criterion. Withdrawn or removed applications usually result
from properties that have been destroyed before the nomination process was complete. Today, the OHP continues to review and
forward qualified National Register of Historic Places nominations to the Keeper of the Register in Washington D.C.
Scope and Content
The records of the Dept. of Parks and Recreation consist of fifty-two cubic feet and include thirty maps covering the years
1907 to 2003, with the bulk of the records covering 1929 to 1991. The Dept. of Natural Resources, Division of Parks records
cover the period from 1927 to 1941 when the Division of Parks changed to the Division of Beaches and Parks, which covers the
period from 1941 to 1967. The Dept. of Parks and Recreation records cover the period from 1967 to 2003. The State Park Commission
records range from 1917 to 1967 when reorganization changed the commission to the State Park and Recreation Commission, covering
the period from 1967 to 1989.
The records are arranged into the State Park and Recreation Commission and the records of the Dept. of Parks and Recreation.
The files are arranged in twelve series: (1.) Correspondence concerning Frederick Law Olmsted and the establishment of the
first California state park system and survey issues, 1917-1950, (2.) Subject Files concerning Olmsted and state park projects,
1924-1979, (3.) Reports concerning state park surveys, 1928-1989, (4.) Publications, 1946-1961, (5.) Maps, 1932-1950, (6.)
Project Files concerning state power plants, park sites, and national parks, 1929-1989, (7.) Historical Resources Study Files,
1952-1954, (8.) California History Plan Volume I Files, 1953-1976, (9.) California History Plan Volume II Files, 1904-1980,
(10.) California History Plan Volume III files, 1970-1977, (11.) National Register Applications, 1963-2003, and (12.) OHP
Index to National Register Sites, 1963-2003. Files include correspondence, subject files, reports, publications, maps, blueprints,
project files, applications, photographs, county and state histories, articles and newspaper clippings.
According to retired DPR employee Frederick Meyer, many of Olmsted's records were thrown away during a move from San Francisco
to Sacramento, but no record exists of what was discarded. Most of the information concerning the Olmsted surveys will not
be found in the correspondence, but rather in the subject files and reports. The records include two sketch maps by Olmsted
and several maps, which include notations by Olmsted. Several files include Meyer's notes, which he added when he transferred
the records in 1989. Historical Resources Study files do not include a final report. California History Plan Volume II files
include the DPR identification numbers beginning with 348.0 to designate correspondence, 348.1 for reports, and 348.2, which
corresponds with the alphabetical listing of counties. National Register of Historic Places applications are filed by DPR
identification number beginning with 537.4, which corresponds with the alphabetical listing of counties. The OHP index contains
an incomplete record of denied, removed, or withdrawn applications submitted to the National Register of Historic Places.
The index accompanies the applications in the previous series and includes the site name, a DPR identification number beginning
with 537.4, and the status of the nomination.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in
the library's online public access catalog.
Parks and Recreation Department
Olmsted, Frederick Law, 1879-1959
Related Collections at the California State Archives
Dept. of Natural Resources Records, 1927-1961.
Dept. of Public Works-Director's Office Records, 1927-1972.
Dept. of Forestry Records, 1885-1986.
Drury, Newton B. Services for Californians: Executive Department Issues in the Reagan Administration, 1967-1974. Interview
within a volume. OH R-43.
Mott, William Penn Jr. Earl Warren as Executive: Social Welfare and State Parks. Interview within a volume. OH W-15.
Related Collections at Other Repositories
Bishop (Frances Evelyn) Papers, California State Parks. Calaveras Big Trees State Park, P.O. Box 120, Arnold, California 95223.
California State Historic Landmark Collection. Mandeville Special Collections Library, University of California, San Diego,
La Jolla, California 92093-0175.
Mott, (William P. Jr.) Papers. The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720-6000.
Aubrey Neasham Collection, Sacramento Archives and Museum Collection Center, 551 Sequoia Pacific Blvd. Sacramento, California
Sierra Club Records. The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720-6000.