It’s On My Desk: 12 Blotters That Tell a Story

Posted on by Christina Marino

During more than thirty years as an archivist and social historian I have had the privilege of working with hundreds of personal and professional papers and government and institutional records. Material ranging from gold-rush diaries to Farm Security camp newsletters and from Chinese immigrant’s coaching letters for Angel Island to designs for the Sea Ranch.  But none have given me the delight of perfectly and succinctly combining visual interest and social history as captured in twelve colorful blotters created by Allan Jacobs during his six year tenure as Director of the San Francisco Department of City Planning.

Jacobs started with two fresh blotters each year on which he “doodled” while on the phone.  They illustrate, both literally and figuratively, issues on the desk of the Planning Director and thoughts generated by these issues. That he preserved them is evidence of his recognition of their scholarly potential as well as clearly relishing their artistic expression.  These blotters serve as valuable documents of their time and place and as a visual diary of ideas, issues, and politics as well as of personal matters.  We are very pleased to add them to the holdings of the Environmental Design Archives and to share them as an exhibit on our website: http://exhibits.ced.berkeley.edu/exhibits/show/jacobsblotters.

--Waverly Lowell, Curator