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Guide to the Edgar F. Kaiser Papers, 1886-1981
BANC MSS 85/61 c  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Chronological Biography
  • Scope and Content

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Edgar F. Kaiser Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1886-1981
    Collection Number: BANC MSS 85/61 c
    Creator: Kaiser, Edgar F. (Edgar Fosburgh), 1908-1981
    Extent: Number of containers: 500 cartons, 32 volumes, 9 oversize folders, 1 box Linear feet: circa 600
    Repository: The Bancroft Library
    Berkeley, California 94720-6000
    Abstract: The bulk of the papers were transferred to The Bancroft Library by Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corp. and consist primarily of corporate files from Kaiser's tenure as president and chairman of the board of Kaiser Industries Corporation. Also included are records from his earlier career as vice president and general manager of Oregon Shipbuilding Corp. and Kaiser Company, Inc., followed by those from his tenure as president of Kaiser Motors Corp. and general manager of Kaiser-Frazer Corporation's automobile plant at Willow Run, Mich. Also included are personal papers given by Kaiser's family.
    Languages Represented: English
    Physical Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

    Information for Researchers

    Access

    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to The Bancroft Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library 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 reader.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Edgar F. Kaiser papers, BANC MSS 85/61 c, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Related Collections

    Title: Henry J. Kaiser Papers,
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 83/42 c
    Title: Eugene E. Trefethen, Jr. Papers,
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 87/35 c
    Title: Henry J. Kaiser, Jr. Papers,
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 88/205 c
    Title: Henry J. Kaiser Scrapbooks -- Hawaii activities, 1955-1956,
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 85/155 cp
    Title: Kaiser Foundation Hospitals -- Hawaii Region Collection, 1958-1985,
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 87/131 cp
    Title: Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program,
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 91/12 c

    Separated Material

    • Editions of The Bosn's Whistle from the Oregon, Swan's Island, and Vancouver shipyards, along with editions of Flat Top Flash from the Vancouver shipyard, have been transferred to the to the book collection of The Bancroft Library.
    • Photographs have been transferred to Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft Library.
    • Videotapes have been transferred to the Microforms Division of The Bancroft Library.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Kaiser, Edgar F. (Edgar Fosburgh), 1908-1981--Archives
    Trefethen, Eugene E. (Eugene Edgar), 1909-
    Kaiser Industries Corporation
    Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation
    Henry J. Kaiser Company
    Kaiser Motors Corporation
    Industrialists--United States
    Willow Run (Mich.)--History

    Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information

    The Edgar F. Kaiser Papers were given to The Bancroft Library by the Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation, Nina M. Kaiser, and Edgar F. Kaiser, Jr., in the years 1985 through 1987.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Lauren Lassleben, Project Archivist; JoLynn Subramanian, Assistant Archivist

    Chronological Biography

    1908 Edgar Fosburgh Kaiser born in Spokane, Washington, on July 29, the first child of Henry John and Bessie Fosburgh Kaiser. Attended grammar school in Seattle, Washington and began working on his father's road paving projects at age 12. Attended high school in Oakland, California.
    1926-1930 Attended University of California, Berkeley, majoring in economics, but left one semester short of graduation to become superintendent on a natural gas pipeline project in Kansas and Oklahoma.
    1931-1932 Managed pipeline projects in Arizona, New Mexico, Mexico, and Montana.
    1932 Married Dorothy Sue Mead of Washington, D.C., on August 24.
    1932-1933 Started as shovel foreman and became superintendent of canyon excavation for Six Companies, Inc., at Hoover (Boulder) Dam.
    1934-1938 Named administrative manager of Columbia Construction Company's main spillway at Bonneville Dam (on the Columbia River).
    1938-1941 Appointed project manager of the Grand Coulee Dam project in Washington by Consolidated Builders, Inc. Brought Dr. Sidney R. Garfield there to establish a comprehensive prepaid medical care program for workers and their families, the beginning of the Kaiser Health Plan, the world's first prepaid health maintenance organization.
    1941-1945 Named vice president and general manager of Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation and Kaiser Company, Inc., with shipyards at Portland, Vancouver, and Swan Island. Kaiser again sponsored a prepaid health plan for shipyard workers, under the direction of Dr. Garfield, which opened to the general public in 1945.
    1946-1954 Appointed general manager of Kaiser-Frazer Corporation automobile plant at Willow Run, Michigan and elected president of Kaiser Motors Corporation.
    1954 Moved to the Oakland, California headquarters of the Kaiser Companies as the organization expanded, to share management responsibilities with his father, Henry J. Kaiser.
    1956 Elected president of Kaiser Industries Corporation, the parent company, with his father as chairman of the board and his younger brother, Henry J. Kaiser, Jr., as vice president.
    1959 Negotiated with labor attorney Arthur Goldberg for a settlement with United Steelworkers Union at Kaiser Steel's Fontana plant during the national steel strike. Helped create the Long Range Sharing Plan at the Fontana mill.
    1961-1963 Served President John F. Kennedy as a member of the Missile Sites Labor Commission, the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity, and as an incorporator of the Communications Satellite Corporation in 1962.
    1961 Henry J. Kaiser, Jr. died in Oakland.
    1966 Named National Chairman of United Nations Day by President Lyndon Johnson.
    1966-1968 Selected by President Lyndon Johnson to head the President's Committee on Urban Housing, and named chairman of the board of incorporators of the National Corporation for Housing Partnerships.
    1967 Henry J. Kaiser died in Honolulu on August 24.
      Elected chairman of the board of Kaiser Industries Corporation, head of all operating divisions, subsidiaries and affiliated companies (including Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation, Kaiser Steel Corporation, Kaiser Cement and Gypsum Corporation, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals), and a trustee of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.
    1969 Named Alumnus of the Year and awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters degree by the University of California, Berkeley.
      Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Johnson for his contributions to the development of low and moderate income housing.
    1970 Elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
    1974 Sue Mead Kaiser died in Moscow on June 24.
    1975 Appointed by President Gerald Ford to the President's Advisory Committee on Refugees.
      Married Nina McCormick, his long-time executive secretary, on February 1.
    1977 Oversaw the voluntary liquidation of Kaiser Industries Corporation.
    1978-1980 Designated Chairman Emeritus and honorary director of Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation and Kaiser Cement Corporation in 1978; of Kaiser Steel Corporation in 1979; and of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals in 1980.
    1981 Died at Moffitt Hospital in San Francisco, California, on December 11.

    Scope and Content

    The bulk of the Edgar F. Kaiser Papers were transferred to The Bancroft Library by Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation and consist primarily of corporate files from Mr. Kaiser's tenure as president and chairman of the board of Kaiser Industries Corporation. Also included are records from his earlier career as vice president and general manager of Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation and Kaiser Company, Inc., followed by those from his tenure as president of Kaiser Motors Corporation and general manager of Kaiser-Frazer Corporation's automobile plant at Willow Run, Michigan. The collection was extremely well organized and, for the most part, original order was retained. Corporate files were supplemented by papers given by Kaiser's family for inclusion in Series 1: Personal Papers.
    The sheer volume of the collection is a testament to the vast and complex nature of the Kaiser family's business undertakings. When considered in conjunction with the papers of his father, Henry J. Kaiser, which are also housed in The Bancroft Library, a fascinating picture emerges of the birth, growth, and eventual decline of one of the West's great 20th-century family business empires.
    Edgar F. Kaiser inherited an industrial empire that at one time included over 100 Kaiser Companies and affiliates spread around the globe. After an early apprenticeship on some of the major western United States public works projects of the Depression years, Edgar Kaiser supervised Kaiser's shipbuilding operations in the Pacific Northwest during World War II, and then presided over an unsuccessful automobile manufacturing venture in Michigan in the decade following the war. As president and, later, chairman of the board, Edgar Kaiser led the Kaiser affiliated companies through an unprecedented era of growth during the 1960s, followed by a period of declining profits in the 1970s. This decade culminated in the sale of several companies, a decline in international projects, and in the voluntary liquidation of Kaiser Industries Corporation, the holding company, in 1977.
    In his writings, interviews and speeches, Kaiser often reflected on the responsibility of American business, both at home and abroad; on the founding and growth of the Kaiser Companies; on his father's charismatic leadership style; and on his own role as advisor to American presidents in such areas as equal employment opportunity, urban housing, and satellite communications.
    The collection provides rich source material for the study of the growth of the Kaiser Permanente Foundation and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, a unique prepaid health plan begun by Edgar Kaiser at the remote Grand Coulee Dam construction site in the late 1930s, and the post-war industrialization of the West, which was given impetus by the Kaiser-built shipyards, the Kaiser Steel plant at Fontana, California, and the manufacturing of building materials such as gypsum and cement, needed for the post-war housing boom in California. Also documented are related subjects such as urban renewal, affirmative action, on-the-job training, public transit, and corporate sponsorship for the arts in the San Francisco Bay Area and on a national scale, as well as the export of Kaiser technology to Pacific rim, Latin American, and African countries.