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On the morning of the earthquake, faced with a disaster of unpredictable magnitude, Mayor Eugene E. Schmitz hurriedly appointed a committee, known as the Citizens' Committee of Fifty, and called those who could be reached for a meeting at the Hall of Justice, at Kearny and Washington streets, that afternoon at 3:00 p.m.

Emergency relief measures were all the committee could address that afternoon, and it adjourned - scheduled to meet again the following morning at the Fairmont Hotel because the Hall of Justice had been destroyed by fire. The committee was later forced to abandon the hotel, and met daily at various locations until April 25, when it met at Fort Mason.

At the Fort Mason meeting of the 25th, Mayor Schmitz, at the suggestion of U.S. Circuit Judge William W. Morrow, appointed John S. Drum as chairman of a subcommittee on history and statistics. Drum promptly appointed to his subcommittee Clement P. Bennett, Edward F. Moran who served as secretary, and Richard C. Harrison.

John Sylvester Drum was a prominent San Francisco attorney and clubman, and was a member of the Pacific Union, University, Olympic and Burlingame Country clubs. He later served as President of The Mercantile Trust Company, director of the Pacific Gas & Electric Company, and president of the American Bankers' Association.

Clement Pelham Bennett, a pioneer court reporter, was a recognized leader in his profession, and member of the Olympic Club and the Pacific Yacht Club.

Edward F. Moran, former president of the San Francisco Civil Service Commission, was a charter member of the Press Club of San Francisco, and belonged to the Olympic Club, Native Sons of the Golden West, Elks, California Bar Association, Commonwealth Club of California, and the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.

Richard C. Harrison, a San Francisco attorney, was a partner in the law firm of Harrison & Harrison.

Meanwhile, in Berkeley, Henry Morse Stephens (1857-1919) had a similar project in mind, and discussed the proposal, in Oakland, with Governor Pardee.


A few days after the Fort Mason meeting, President Benjamin Ide Wheeler of the University of California recommended Stephens to Drum. Stephens was added to the committee, which afterward functioned as the Earthquake History Committee financed by the Red Cross and Relief Corporation.

In addition to his work with the Earthquake History Committee, between 1906 and 1909, Stephens' time was taken up with acquiring more materials for the Bancroft Collection of the university, setting it up, then heading the University's Extension Program, taking time out to write the 1909 "St. Patrick of Tara; a Forest Play" performed that year at Bohemian Grove as part of the thirty-second annual Midsummer High Jinks of the Bohemian Club.

Stephens' later years were increasingly spent trying to build the historical manuscript holdings at Bancroft. He was instrumental in bringing Herbert Eugene Bolton (1870-1953) and the Bolton collection of Spanish and Mexican archives to Berkeley.

During World War I Stephens began a "Great War History Committee," with a global appeal for any and all original manuscript material, narratives, etc., to be sent to Berkeley.

If Stephens had lived longer he might have completed the promised history of the Earthquake and Fire.

The Earthquake History Committee could afford paid staff, and two graduate students were hired, Lawrence J. Kennedy and John D. Fletcher.

Kennedy's primary interest was the fire history of San Francisco; Fletcher's was the East Bay story, particularly Berkeley.

Kennedy's study, completed in 1908, was titled "The Progress of the Fire in San Francisco April 18th-21st, 1906 , as Shown by an Analysis of Original Documents." Fletcher's study, completed in 1909, was titled "An account of the Work of Relief Organized in Berkeley in April and May, 1906, for the Refugees from San Francisco."

Numerous contemporary reports from 1906 geological committees and investigations rapidly appeared; many of which remain in print to this day.

Unfortunately, original materials gathered by the Committee disappeared sometime during the 1920s. It does not appear that the holdings were absorbed into the Bancroft Collection, or UC Library system, as no reference to key portions of the documents can be found at the University of California.

There are several theories about the missing material; that it languishes somewhere at the University of California, or perhaps destroyed during the 1923 Berkeley fire.

- Ray Seimers
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