Virginia McKenzie Smith Collection.

Virginia McKenzie Smith.


965 items : various media, many color ; 28 x 39 cm. or smaller.

Photographic prints: OP11215/0-124 and OP15167/0-623.
Nitrate negatives: 90:17903/0-8.

San Diego History Center
Booth Historical Photograph Archives
P.O. Box 81825
San Diego, CA 92138

Gift of Virginia McKenzie Smith (129 photographs), 1983 (017283A).
Transfer from Research Archives (833 photographs, 2 drawings, and 1 album), 1989 (890204).

Access to nitrate negatives and special items restricted, except by permission of curator; otherwise, open for research.

For permission to reproduce or publish, contact the curator of the Booth Historical Photograph Archives of the San Diego Historical Society. Reproduction or publication of any part of this collection must include the following information next to the image(s) or in a special section of credits: Virginia McKenzie Smith Collection, San Diego History Center, Booth Historical Photograph Archives.

Arrangement: (1) photographic prints, OP11215/0-124, and album; (2) photographic prints, OP15167/0-623; (3-4) oversize photographs and drawings; (5) nitrate negatives (cold room); and (6) one photographic print mounted on gold-lacquered wood (special items). The collection includes 943 photographic prints, 10 photographic postcards, 9 nitrate negatives, 2 drawings, and 1 album. Related materials: typed transcript of oral history interview with Virginia [McKenzie] Smith, ephemera, and papers in the Research Archives. Forms part of: San Diego History Center Original Print Collection.

Daughter of Bernard W. and Mary Churchill Pratt McKenzie, Virginia McKenzie Smith was born in Coronado in 1903. Her father came to San Diego in 1887 and founded Western Metals Supply Company. In 1923, she married U.S. Navy Lieutenant W. Murray Smith, who later became president of her father’s company from 1929 until his death in 1971. They had a daughter Cynthia Mary and a son David McKenzie. A supportor of cultural and philanthropic organizations throughout the area, and a student of San Diego County and Baja California history, Virginia McKenzie Smith died in 1988.

This collection contains photographs in various processes and formats related to the social and domestic life of Virginia McKenzie Smith and her family. It includes portraits and snapshots of Virginia from infancy to her later years; her parents Bernard and Mary McKenzie; her grandfather Union General Mendal Churchill and other family members; her husband and children Murray, Cynthia, and David Smith; her granddaughters Kim and Lara; friends and associates. Other images depict McKenzie and Smith family houses in Coronado, Palm Springs, Lemon Grove, and Warner Springs; Virginia and Murray’s wedding; travel to Meling Ranch in Baja California and other places; camping, horseback riding, picnics, leisure, and recreation. Photographs of special note include a snapshot of U.S. Navy destroyers shipwrecked at Point Honda near Santa Barbara in 1923, the 1911 Coronado polo team, and a portrait of Murray’s brother Admiral Norman M. Smith, who built the first naval hospital in San Diego.

McKenzie family.
Smith family.
United States. Navy — People.
Families — California — San Diego.
Women — Social life.
Shipwrecks — California.
Baja California (Mexico) — Photographs.


Box 1
Folder 1 OP11215/0-61
McKenzie family photographs, ca. 1865-1923. Consists of various media (albumen, collodion, and gelatin silver prints; carte-de-visite, cabinet , and other card mounts; and five photographic postcards, one tintype, and one hand-colored print). Subjects include studio portraits and other images of Virginia McKenzie [Smith] from infancy to young adulthood, her parents Bernard Wright and Mary Churchill Pratt McKenzie, and other family members; outings to La Jolla and Ensenada; Mary McKenzie’s house in Palm Springs; Bernard McKenzie on the Coronado golf course, Mary McKenzie before her marriage, in Tucson and dressed for tennis [1900?]; and Virginia McKenzie in Coronado’s Tent City swimming pool. Of special note, a snapshot of U.S. Navy destroyers shipwrecked at Point Honda near Santa Barbara, 1923.
Folder 2 OP11215/62-71
Photographs of Virginia McKenzie Smith. Images include her marriage to U.S. Navy Lieutenant W. Murray Smith on June 23, 1923; a portrait of her posing with three dogs at her Lemon Grove home [ca. 1929] by San Diego photographer Melvin H. Sykes; Virginia McKenzie Smith holding her infant daughter Cynthia Mary and son David McKenzie in 1939; on a 1937 camping trip with Margaret Bancroft in Baja California; posing with a group of women called “The Coronado Gang” [1945?]; and attending her daughter’s 1956 graduation from The Bishop’s School in La Jolla; also, a 1979 City of San Diego publicity photograph of her attending dedication at Bankers Hill.
Folder 3 OP11215/72-124
Snapshots of Virginia McKenzie Smith, Margaret Bancroft, and others on a 1937 Baja California camping trip. Images include scenes of Meling Ranch, San Pedro Marter Mountains, pottery, and goat herders. [See also Folder 11.]
Folder 4 Various OP15167 numbers
Virginia McKenzie’s baby album. Includes 30 snapshots and handwritten entries documenting her first year.
Box 2
Folder 5 OP15167/0-86
Early photographs include an 1861 carte de visite of Virginia McKenzie Smith’s grandfather Union General Mendal Churchill [of the 27th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry]; portraits and snapshots of Virginia engaged in various activities from childhood to adulthood; her parents Bernard and Mary McKenzie, her children Cynthia and David, her husband Murray Smith, his mother and father, and various friends. Later photographs from the 1960s and 1970s include mostly color snapshots of Virginia McKenzie Smith with her family and friends at a ranch, the beach, a costume party, and other gatherings; playing with her grandchildren; and posing with a friend in front of the Acropolis of Athens [1962]. Also, a view of the sailing ship Star of India [1976?].
Folder 6 OP15167/87-206
Studio portraits of Virginia McKenzie Smith’s father Bernard McKenzie by early San Diego photographer Jean Emanuel Stromberg and a carte de visite of him as a youth [ca. 1875]; card photographs of Virginia’s mother Mary; 1860s carte de visites of her grandparents; and the McKenzie house. Also, Virginia’s early life in Coronado from infancy to young adulthood: pictured with her parents, playing, horseback riding, pistol shooting, in her graduation dress, and on various outings. Other subjects include Virginia and W. Murray Smith’s 1923 wedding; Murray’s U.S. Naval Academy graduation portrait; Murray as a child and a naval officer aboard ship, and with his father and three brothers in 1924; a U.S. Navy photograph of Murray’s brother Admiral Norman M. Smith, who built the first naval hospital in San Diego; a black-and-white studio portrait of Virginia photographed by Nina Dean Webb; and snapshots of Virginia McKenzie Smith’s infant daughter Cynthia and son David.
Folder 7 OP15167/207-299
Chiefly snapshots from the late 1930s and early 1940s of Cynthia and David Smith’s early childhood.
Folder 8 OP15167/300-351
Includes young Virginia McKenzie Smith on a burro [1908?] and at her mother’s Palm Springs house; a carte-de-visite portrait of Mary Churchill Pratt [McKenzie] and her two sisters [ca. 1861]; a Valentine’s Day party at Mrs. Ower’s School in the Hotel del Coronado; more snapshots of Cynthia and David; Murray Smith playing with dogs; the Smith family’s Lemon Grove home; dining at restaurants in New York and Mexico in the 1950s; and gatherings with friends. Also, photographs of Murray from the 1930s-1960s, his mother, brothers, and a photographic reproduction of a portrait of his father Winchester Smith taken in 1895.
Folder 9 OP15167/352-385
Color snapshots of 1974 trip to Meling Ranch in Baja California.
Folder 10 OP15167/386-417
Includes photographic postcard of Virginia McKenzie Smith’s uncle George McKenzie in front of his home, her family’s Coronado home on 1st Avenue, and her mother’s house in Palm Springs, which later became the Desert Inn; Virginia with horses and dogs; Tent City swimming pool; Virginia and Murray in Washington, D.C., and early in their marriage when he was still in the Navy stationed in Hawaii and Washington state [1927?].
Folder 11 OP15167/418-476
Some duplicate and other photographs from 1937 camping trip to Baja California. [See also Folder 3.]
Folder 12 OP15167/477-499
Chiefly color snapshots from the 1960s of the Smith family and friends at Warner Springs, Anza-Borrego, and Kenyon Ranch in Arizona. Also, Murray with his granddaughter Lara.
Folder 13 OP15167/500-512
Virginia McKenzie Smith, Margaret Bancroft, Salvador Meling, and others at Meling Ranch, Baja California, 1971.
Folder 14 OP15167/513-559
Color snapshots from the 1970s of Virginia McKenzie Smith’s house and surrounding land near Warner Springs.
Folder 15 OP15167/560-589
More color snapshots from the 1970s of Virginia McKenzie Smith’s house and surrounding land near Warner Springs. Includes winter scenes, interior views of house, visiting friends, and grandchildren.
Folder 16 OP15167/594-623
Early photographs include Virginia McKenzie Smith’s grandfather and father, General Mendal Churchill and Bernard McKenzie [ca. 1900]; a McKenzie family picnic at La Jolla in 1897; portraits of Virginia as a young girl, one hand-colored; and a studio portrait of Virginia’s mother Mary Pratt [ca. 1890] on a circular card mount. Later photographs include David Smith’s 1957 San Miguel High School class; a studio portrait of the Smith family on a 1955 trip to Hawaii; and 1960s color snapshots of Murray and Virginia with their granddaughters Kim and Lara.
Box 3
Folder 17 OP11215/32-33
Interior views of McKenzie family’s Coronado home designed by Irving Gill, 1901.
Portrait of young Virginia Churchill McKenzie mounted on textured paper [ca. 1909].
Group portrait of 1911 Coronado polo team by Coronado photographer Harold A. Taylor.
Photographic reproduction of painting [?] “On the Rocks at Point Honda” depicting shipwrecked U.S. Navy destroyers at Point Honda near Santa Barbara, including Lt. W. Murray Smith’s ship the USS Nicholas.
Box 4
Folder 18 OP15167/200
Murray Smith’s brother Admiral Norman Smith.
Mixed media portrait drawing by W.F. Seely of David Smith [1941?].
Virginia McKenzie Smith, [pen and brown ink?] portrait drawing, possibly Lou Goodale Bigelow.
Cold room
Nitrate negatives 90:17903/0-8
Landscape scenes of Palm Springs area [ca. 1915] near Mary McKenzie’s house.
Cabinet 123
Special items OP15167/5
Portrait of Virginia McKenzie Smith’s grandfather Mendal Churchill taken in Yokohama, Japan, [189-] by H. Mizuno and mounted on gold-lacquered wood.