Scope and Content
Conditions Governing Access
Title: Midnight Mission and Tom and Mary Liddecoat papers
Collection number: 0413
USC Libraries Special Collections
Language of Material:
8 linear feet
Date (inclusive): 1899-2005
The papers of the Midnight Mission and of Tom and Mary Liddecoat consist of material that documents the personal and business
history of the Liddecoat family, the Midnight Mission, and various other charities and individuals associated with the Liddecoat
family; specifically, the collection documents two generations of the Liddecoat family and their involvement in charitable
organizations such as the Midnight Mission, the Gospel Foundation of America, and charitable organizations on the family's
ranch in Walnut Creek, California.
Copyright has not been assigned to the California Social Welfare Archives. All requests for permission to publish or quote
from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the appropriate agency or person.
Midnight Mission and of Tom and Mary Liddecoat papers, Collection no. 0413, California Social Welfare Archives, Special Collections,
USC Libraries, University of Southern California
The material was acquired by friends and associates of Miss Mary Liddecoat.
The papers of the Midnight Mission and of Tom and Mary Liddecoat were in less than perfect order and poorly preserved when
they arrived at the CSWA archives. Much of the original collection consisted of unattributed photographs and highly deteriorated
newspaper clippings collections. Samples of the photographs were given special attention for preservation. Newspapers were
photocopied. The collection also contains a great deal of extraneous material, in particular that dealing with Death Valley.
Given the intinsic interest of some of this material, it has been retained, but the researcher should note that some of this
material is more germaine to California regional historical research than Social Welfare research.
Tom "Brother Tom" Liddecoat (1874-1942) owned a lucrative packing firm in turn of the century Los Angeles. In 1914, he turned
away from this business and began a mission to help the poor and the homeless on LA's streets. This became the Midnight Mission.
Liddicoat and his daughter Mary ran the Mission until shortly before his death.
The Mission was initially funded by $100,000 of Liddecoat's own money. Soon, other donations came in. From 1924 on, Liddecoat
returned to the packing business in order to help fund the Mission. Aided by anonymous benefactors like Walter Webb, Liddecoat
was ultimately to receive donations from several wealthy men.
Among the Mission's strongest supporters were Albert M. Johnson and Harry Chandler. Johnson owned a home in Chicago, 1620
acres of land in Death Valley including a "castle" he had built there, that was widely held to be the property of Johnson's
friend, "Death Valley Scotty," and a 326 acre ranch in Ygnacio Valley, called Shadelands Ranch.
After Johnson's death, all this property was willed to the Gospel Foundation of California, a non-profit Christian charity
established by Johnson in the mid-1940's. Mary Liddecoat became the president of the Foundation. Following her understanding
of Johnson's intent, Miss Liddecoat systematically sold off the Gospel Foundation properties to support a wide variety of
Christian charitable institutions over the years. The records indicate a special attention to children's charities, children's
camps, and a school created on Shadelands property for children with cerebral palsy.
Scope and Content
The papers of the Midnight Mission and of Tom and Mary Liddecoat consist of correspondence, clippings, ephemera, photographs,
and legal and financial documents that document the personal and business history of the Liddecoat family, the Midnight Mission,
and various other charities and individuals associated with the Liddecoat family; specifically, the collection documents two
generations of the Liddecoat family and their involvement in charitable organizations. Included are biographical and genealogical
materials; papers relating to the founding and maintenance of the Midnight Mission by Tom Liddecoat; papers relating to the
Gospel Foundation of America, founded by Albert Johson and managed by Mary Liddecoat; and materials relating to the development
of Walnut Creek from properties managed by Miss Liddecoat. The material is sometimes sketchy, and the collection is haphazard,
but there are remarkable holographic memoirs included as sketches found penciled into otherwise unrelated documents.
This collection is organized into the following series:
1. Liddecoate Family
2. Midnight Mission
3. Gospel Foundation of America
Conditions Governing Access
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Gospel Foundation of California. -- Archives
Johnson, Albert M., 1872-1948 -- Archives
Liddecoat family -- Archives
Liddecoat Packing Co.. -- Archives
Liddecoat, Mary -- Archives
Liddecoat, Tom, 1864-1942 -- Archives
Midnight Mission. -- Archives
Scott, Walter E., 1872-1954 -- Archives
Scotty's Castle (Calif.). -- Archives
Stocker, Clara Baldwin, 1847-1929 -- Archives
Walnut Creek Historical Society. -- Archives
Death Valley National Park (Calif. and Nev.)--Archival resources
Los Angeles (Calif.)--Genealogy
Los Angeles (Calif.)--Social conditions--Archival resources
Shadelands Ranch (Walnut Creek, Calif.)--Archival resources
Social service--California--Archival resources
Social service--California--Los Angeles--Archival resources
Youth--Services for--California--Archival resources
Youth--Societies and clubs--Archival resources