Guide to the Vera McKenna Clayton Scrapbook Collection (1925 – 1952) – History

View the full guide to this collection

Vera McKenna Clayton (1896—1978) was a prominent and popular piano teacher active in Santa Cruz during the mind-1920’s to 1950’s.  Vera McKenna Clayton was born in Oakland, and later moved to Reno, Nev. With her mother Nancy Laughton McKenna (1871-1940) and sister Melba McKenna (1904-1989) Vera moved to Reno, Nevada after the death of her father James McKenna (1870-1909). In 1921 Vera wed Donald Clayton, and in 1923 Vera, her mother, and sister were in Santa Cruz where Vera began giving piano lessons. Vera was also skilled on the concert organ, having had one organ and two pianos in her Santa Cruz home (S.C. MAH) Once in Santa Cruz, Vera M, Clayton became involved in the community through music and also her involvement in local clubs. Just four years after moving to Santa Cruz Vera became President of the Santa Cruz Women’s Club (also known as Saturday Afternoon Club), and became chair of County Federation of Women’s clubs in music ( 1928 newspaper clipping from Vera’s scrapbook, source unknown). Vera was also an organist and director for the First Methodist Episcopal Church as evidence by her many concert programs and was director of the choir at the church of whom her sister was a member. Vera M. Clayton also was accompanist for many Santa Cruz organizations such as the Santa Cruz Male Chorus, Kiwanis, Exchange and High Service Clubs, the Elks Lodge, and the Monday Musical Club, which Vera’s numerous newspaper clippings and programs attest to kept within her scrapbooks. She was also a composer, her first composition having been composed around 1928  for the grand opening of the Spanish Gardens at Casa del Rey, and the Spanish influenced melody entitled “Senorita Mia” was much praised in a 1928 article preserved by Vera in one of her many scrapbooks (source unknown). During World War II Vera M. Clayton preserved many War Ration Books, stamps, and newspaper clippings on the injured and wounded in her scrapbooks while still continuing her many recitals in Santa Cruz until leaving briefly in the 1940’s to become a clerk typist in San Francisco (1944 newspaper clipping source unknown). She lived until 1978.