This collection focuses on the early life and European travels of Kate Sessions, San Diego horticulturist and “Mother of Balboa
Park.” The collection contains personal diaries and correspondence, as well as scrapbooks, unpublished manuscripts and several
articles on Sessions.
Kate Olivia Sessions was born in San Francisco on November 8, 1857. In 1868, her family moved to a ranch in East Oakland where
she grew up surrounded by nature, often riding her pony through the countryside and helping her mother in the family garden.
She graduated from Oakland High School in 1875. Sessions traveled to Hawaii in 1876 to better her health and entered a San
Francisco business college upon her return. In 1877, she entered the University of California at Berkeley, where she studied
chemistry and also completed courses on botany, horticulture, and agriculture. Her thesis was entitled “Rock Soap: Chemical
Composition, Mineralogical Nature, Geological Occurrence, Technical Value. (Report of Progress).” Sessions received a Bachelor's
Degree from the College of Sciences in 1881 and taught in the Oakland primary school following her graduation.