MS 133 San Diego Open Forum Records

Summary Information

San Diego History Center Document Collection
San Diego Open Forum.
San Diego Open Forum Records
MS 133
Date [inclusive]
0.5 Linear feet (1 box)
This collection contains meeting minutes and other business papers of the San Diego Open Forum, a non-profit organization promoting free speech, from 1918 to 1974.

Preferred Citation

San Diego Open Forum Records, MS 133, San Diego History Center Document Collection, San Diego, CA.

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Biographical / Historical Notes

The San Diego Open Forum was founded in 1919 to promote democracy and freedom of speech in San Diego County. The organization was inspired after an incident in 1918 in which police prevented a lecture by investigative reporter Lincoln Steffens at the First Unitarian Church for fear of a gathering mob of protesters. Founders included prominent citizens Lyman J. Gage, George A. Garrett, E.M. Scofield, William E. Ritter, W. Templeton Johnson, Douglas Young, Judge Spencer M. Marsh, and the Reverend Dr. Howard Bard.

Beginning in 1919, the Open Forum presented an annual series of lectures from October through May, hosted by Dr. Bard at the First Unitarian Church. The group hosted academics, doctors, activists, and controversial figures from a variety of political backgrounds. The Open Forum remained active for 55 years. By the 1970s, they faced competition from lecture series at local universities and in televised broadcasts, and in 1974 the Board of Directors gave in to the decline in funding and attendance and dissolved the organization.

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Scope and Content

This collection contains meeting minutes and other business papers of the San Diego Open Forum, a non-profit organization promoting free speech, from 1918 to 1974. Meeting minutes for the Board of Directors run from 1959 through the organization’s dissolution in 1974. Other business papers include their Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws (as adapted in 1933); financial papers (including correspondence with their ongoing funder, the Ellen Browning Scripps Foundation); brochures advertising their annual lecture series; and numerous press releases and newspaper clippings.

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Collection is arranged by subject.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

San Diego History Center Document Collection March 27, 2013

1649 El Prado, Suite 3
San Diego, CA, 92101

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The San Diego History Center (SDHC) holds the copyright to any unpublished materials. SDHC Library regulations do apply.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Samantha Mills on March 27, 2013.

Collection processed as part of grant project supported by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) with generous funding from The Andrew Mellon Foundation.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Ellen Browning Scripps Foundation.
  • First Unitarian Church (San Diego, Calif.).
  • San Diego Open Forum.

Geographic Name(s)

  • San Diego (Calif.)


  • Freedom of speech

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“San Diego Open Forum Newspaper Clippings” (Box 1 folders 17-18) are photocopies of newspaper clippings originally contained in a binder.

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Collection Inventory

History of the Open Forum, 1918-1965 1:1
Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws, 1919-1958


Original founders’ statement of purpose, with ratifying signatures, dated October 27, 1919 (in Oversize Collections D9)

List of Board of Directors, 1945-1974 1:3
Board of Directors meeting minutes, 1959 May 6-1962 December 5 1:4
Board of Directors meeting minutes, 1963 January 2-1965 December 1 1:5
Board of Directors meeting minutes, 1966 January 5-1969 December 2 1:6
Board of Directors meeting minutes, 1970 January 6-1974 June 13 1:7
Committees, 1948-1970


Resignation of the Committee of Three

Report from the Committee on “Should We, Can We, and How Are We To – Stay Alive?”

Finances: income and budgets, 1962 February 1-1974 July 13 and undated 1:9
Finances: Ellen Browning Scripps Foundation, 1951 February 8-1972 July 6 1:10
Annual Lecture Series Programs, 1927-1973 1:11
Guest speakers, 1959-1962


Partial list of speakers from 1919-1959 and introductions for Harold Urey, Peter Comanduras, Dr. Daniel Mishell, and Dr. Warren Bostick.

Press releases, 1933 January 2-1967 May 7 1:13
Press releases, 1967 October 12-1968 May 6 1:14
Press releases, 1968 October 9-1969 May 2 1:15
Press releases, 1969 October 9-1974 March 7 1:16
“San Diego Open Forum Newspaper Clippings,” 1933-1964 1:17
“San Diego Open Forum Newspaper Clippings,” 1965 January 7-1973 February 12 1:18

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