Guide to the Mabel MacDonald Scrapbook Collection (1947 – 1965)

Overview +


Collection Number

No Collection Number


This collection was assembled by Mabel MacDonald of Capitola. The collection was donated by Mabel’s sons Brad (Bradley) and John MacDonald.


Number of Containers: Two (2) Boxes
Linear Feet: 3 Linear Feet


Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, Archives
705 Front Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060


This collection consists of three (3) scrapbooks belonging to Mabel MacDonald of Capitola, CA and one (1) annotated scrapbook that may also belong to Mabel. The scrapbooks contain newspaper clippings from the Santa Cruz Sentinel pertaining to local events and people of interest. Newspaper clippings include topics on Santa Cruz history including articles from Preston Sawyer’s “Santa Cruz Yesterdays” column which detailed the history of businesses such as the Garibaldi House of 1886, the Ben Lomond Railroad, logging in the 1880’s and more. Other topics include wedding announcements, athletes, celebrities, and musicians, building projects, and one scrapbook filled almost entirely with articles detailing floods of the San Lorenzo River and Soquel Creek as well as storms during the early 1950’s and 1960’s and their impact on Santa Cruz and Capitola businesses. The annotated scrapbook features newspaper clippings from the Santa Cruz Yesterdays column and articles pertaining to local history with comments on them detailing what the scrapbook’s owner was doing the date of the newspaper clipping or whether she was at the building or business featured. This collection is an interesting look into the history of Santa Cruz in the mid 1940’s-1960s. Date range: 1947-1965


The Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, Santa Cruz, CA

Preferred Citation

The MacDonald Family Scrapbooks Collection, The Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, Santa Cruz, CA

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the head of Archives at MAH. Researchers may be responsible for obtaining copyright permission to use material not produced by museum personnel.

Process By

Renata McRee

Date Completed


History +

Mabel MacDonald was a Santa Cruz resident for many years and attendee of local Santa Cruz schools. Her family had roots in the theatre business, her parents Mr. and Mrs. Henry D. White were founders of the Early Star and Princess Theatres in Santa Cruz and Mabel’s scrapbooks in this collection include newspaper articles about theatres, musicians, and early stage and movie stars. Mabel graduated from Santa Cruz High School along with the class of 1916 and entered training at San Francisco Hospital in 1915 (see Mabel’s comments in her scrapbook). Mabel would graduate from the San Francisco School of Nursing and would serve as a registered nurse in World War I. When World War II occurred, Mabel became head nurse at Santa Cruz County Hospital (S.C. Sentinel 8/12/1973). Mabel was also a fan of the card game whist, and won many awards while participating in local cards games sponsored by St. John’s Episcopal Church (S.C. Sentinel 6/20/1936). Mabel MacDonald passed away at age 77 in the year 1973 and services were held at the Church of Latter Day Saints. She was interred at Oakwood Memorial Park. Mabel was survived by her sons Bradley and John MacDonald of Capitola, CA; and her daughter Suzanne Staffler and sister Mrs. Laura White of Santa Cruz, along with seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren (S.C. Sentinel 8/12/1973). Mabel MacDonald’s Scrapbook Collection at the Museum of Art and History reflects her interests in local history, celebrities, and natural disasters. One scrapbook includes her comments of what happened to her and where she was during prominent historical events from the early 1900’s to the late 1940’s.

Contents +


Two (2) Boxes, Four (4) Scrapbooks

Series Scope and Content Summary:

This series consists of four (4) scrapbooks contained in two (2) boxes of this collection. These scrapbooks were compiled by MacDonald and include newspaper clippings from the Santa Cruz Sentinel on various subjects such as: local history from “Santa Cruz Yesterdays” column by Preston Sawyer, wedding announcements, athletes, businesses and building projects, festivals, and one scrapbook filled almost entirely with 1950’s and 1960’s newspaper clippings concerning floods and other disasters. Another scrapbook includes comments of where and what the owner was doing the day of a particular event, her opinions, and memories. Date range: 1947-1965

This series is divided into the following subseries:

Subseries I.A. Natural Disaster Memorabilia
Subseries I.B. Santa Cruz Yesterdays
Subseries I.C. Miscellaneous Memorabilia


One (1) Scrapbook

Subseries Scope and Content Summary:

This subseries consists of one (1) approx. 12”x13” brown leather and cardboard scrapbook featuring a window in front displaying a 1955 Santa Cruz Sentinel article entitled “Power of River Floodwaters is Demonstrated”. This scrapbook contains approx. eighty (80) newspaper column clippings primarily pertaining to the 1955 flood of the San Lorenzo River and the devastation caused to local businesses on Pacific Avenue, including photos of the waters flooding the streets. Other newspaper clippings pertain to such natural disasters as: Soquel creek flooding (1957), storms causing damage at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and Twin Lakes Beach (1958), beach erosion at El Solano apartments, mud slides at Rio Del Mar (1958), storms and wave damage at Capitola (1960) and much more. Newspaper clippings of interest include: “Storm Leaves Steeds Homeless” (1960) about waves ripping out the merry-go-round at Capitola amusement center; “Waves Roll High At Santa Cruz Beach” (1960) featuring a photo of waves flooding the stairs of the Santa Cruz Boardwalk plunge; “Greatest Deluge Disrupts Business; River Rises Again” (1955) and about twenty or more photos of flood damage and businesses cleaning up the damage from this 1955 San Lorenzo River Flood. Non-flood related newspaper clippings include: “Reception Held at Woman’s Club Fetes Newlyweds” (1951); “American Flags Presented to New Capitola School” (1952); “Girl Scouts Decorate Library Christmas Tree” to name a few. Non disaster-related clippings feature obituaries, wedding announcements, service clubs, athletes, missing persons, and more. The newspaper clippings are taken from the Santa Cruz Sentinel. This scrapbook is in poor to fair condition. The newspaper clippings and page in the scrapbook are intact though some have cracking at the edges and are loose from the binding; the front cover is battered and loose from the pages. Date range: 1951-1960


Box 1


One (1) Scrapbook

Subseries Scope and Content Summary:

This subseries consists of approx. one (1) 12” x 14” scrapbook with a brown cover featuring a gold border, a design of a shield on the cover, and the name “Mabel MacDonald in green lettering. Also on the cover is the title “Scrapbook” and the title “Santa Cruz Yesterdays” taken from a newspaper clipping. Inside the scrapbook are approx. eighty (80) pages of newspaper clippings from the Santa Cruz Sentinel feature “Santa Cruz Yesterdays” which featured columns and photos of early Santa Cruz from the Preston Sawyer Collection, author of the column. These newspaper clippings include photos and history about such historic sites as: Ben Lomond railroad; Pacific Avenue in 1874; the Town Clock Fire of 1899; photo of the Telephone Anniversary Group at the Local Plant 1926; the Original Face of the Beach Natatorium at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk Casino in 1909; The Cameo Theatre, Last of the small Theatres of 1925; and much more. It is not clear when these newspaper columns were clipped, since there are no dates. This scrapbook is in fair to poor condition. Pages are intact, but there is cracking on the edges and the pages are loose from the binding; so is the slightly battered front and back cover. Estimated date range: 1950’s-1960s


Box 1


Four (4) pages

Subseries Scope and Content Summary:

This subseries consists of four (4) pages and the cover of one (1) approx. 13×11” scrapbook with a tan and black cover, the words “Scrap Album” on the cover, Mabel MacDonald’s address, and the title “Santa Cruz Yesterdays” taken from a newspaper pasted to the cover. Inside are newspaper clippings on various subjects such as boating accidents, festivals, athletes, and building projects. The newspaper clippings on these pages include articles entitled: “Crashing Combers Cause Catastrophe” (1948) about a boating accident and rescue, “Thousands Witness Festival” (1957) about the Capitola Begonia float parade, “Big Industrial Plant Will Rise on Mission Street Site” (1950) about the building of an $3,000,000 gum factory, “Toughie and Son” about Roller Derby athlete Midge ‘Toughie’ Brasuhn and her son (1950) and more. These articles are clipped from the Santa Cruz Sentinel and date from 1948-1961. This scrapbook is in poor condition, with only four pages and a battered front cover remaining. All the pages are loose and have tears, cracks, and stains. Handle these pages with care. Date range 1948-1961




One (1) Scrapbook

Series Scope and Content Summary:

This series consists of one (1) approx. 14” (width) x 12” (length) scrapbook with a brown cover and the name “Johnny MacDonald” written inside the cover in red and yellow block lettering. Inside the scrapbook are comments and annotations on some of the newspaper articles and photos taken from the newspaper. These annotations suggest a woman was writing them, perhaps Mabel, despite the name Johnny inside the front cover, which could have been posted in later by Mabel’s son John. The annotations include “ I walked in this parade [a World War II march] –Rino Williams left for service-we were all so sad at depot-Ethel Freeman kissing Rino goodbye-me too”; and “Watched fire from Hazel Grover’s front gate. Our aprons burnt up from sewing class-went to classes, Alta Bldg”. The scrapbook contains approx. one-hundred or more pages of newspaper clippings including columns of “Santa Cruz Yesterdays” by Preston Sawyer dated 1948. These clippings include articles on: history of the Garibaldi House of 1894; mountain logging in the 1880’s and ‘90’s; the Santa Cruz and Felton Railroad; Santa Cruz Water Pageant including a note reading “I went to all these shows”; article about the 1914 Municipal Wharf Dedication including a handwritten note reading “Rino & J& Pooch went…had lots of fun-I was 18 yrs. Old” and more. Other articles in this scrapbook include: “Death Took Big Toll on Famous in 1950” concerning the deaths of celebrities and other famous personages in that year, “SCHS Class of 1916 Dedicates Plaque at Reunion” (1957) this clipping includes a handwritten note that reads “this was my class, I went in training at S.F. Hosp. 1915”; “Senior Prom Includes Tropical Theme” regarding Santa Cruz High’s Jamaica theme (1957); and more.


Box 2