W. P. Whitsett Endowment
Whitsett Chair in California History
California Lecture Series
Valley Pioneer Lecture Series
Whitsett Graduate Seminar in California History
Whitsett Supported Undergraduate and Graduate Research
W. P. Whitsett Endowment
In November, 1986 the W.P. Whitsett Foundation and California State
established the W.P. Whitsett Endowment at CSUN.
The Whitsett Foundation's gift was intended to
honor the memory of W.P. Whitsett and his pioneering
role in San Fernando Valley history. Whitsett's three granddaughters--Mrs. Myrtle Harris, Mrs.
Eleanore Robinson and Mrs. Sarah Ann Siegel--and
family friends, Mrs. Mary Jane Petit and Mrs. Sara Baur--have
generously supported the department's efforts to implement the different
parts of the endowment starting with the late Dr. John Baur's
published essay on W.P. Whitsett.
Print of a pencil and charcoal drawing done by S. Pritikin depicting the Cascades in San Fernando, circa late 1950s. Courtesy
of Special Collection, Oviatt Library, California State University
Whitsett had a long career in the fields of mining,
irrigation, and real estate. "To each he brought enduring energy, faith,
optimism, and impressive competence," concluded Professor Baur. In 1905 Whitsett moved to
southern California and in 1911 he became the enthusiastic founder of Van
Nuys describing valley land as "among the richest and best in
California, but to the inexperienced eye those acres looked like a
wasteland", Baur noted. "There were no
nearby roads, light fixtures, water pipes, gas, or telephone
facilities." Whitsett, however, pushed ahead
with the sale of land sites, the organization of Van Nuys, the introduction
of agricultural advances, banking, and water from the Owens Valley.
Whitsett served on the board of the Los Angeles
Department of Water and Power and as the first chairman of the Metropolitan
Water District of Southern California from 1930 to 1947. He led the
successful effort to bring Colorado river water to Los
Angeles which facilitated the post-World War II expansion of
Whitsett Chair in California
The establishment of the W.P. Whitsett Chair in California History in 1994 completed
the implementation of the endowment. This is the first endowed chair at CSUN
and one of the first in the entire California
system. Professor Gloria Ricci Lothrop accepted the
position in June 1994 and joined the department for the 1994-1995 academic year. Professor Lothrop taught
at California State
1970. She has a distinguished record of accomplishments in teaching California history, in promoting California studies, and in publications in
this field. Two of her recent articles include "Boom of the 80's
Revisited" and "Hispanas and the Land:
Female Land Ownership in Early Alta California" in the Southern
California Quarterly. Her most recent book is Los Angeles Profiles: A Tribute
to the Ethnic Diversity of Los Angeles (1994). Professor Lothrop
retired from CSUN in 2002.
In Fall of 2005, Professor Josh Sides
became the second Whitsett Chair.
W.P. Whitsett California Lecture Series
The W.P. California Lecture Series was
started in 1987 to focus on topics related to the history, the development,
and the future prospects of California.
The lecture series encourages an interdisciplinary approach to subjects
related to California.
The lectures include:
1987 Glenn Dumke,
"The Boom of the 1880s in Southern California"
1988 Andrew Rolle,
"Exploring an Explorer: California,
Psycho-History and John Fremont"
1989 Kevin Starr, "From Oz to
Tarzana: Metaphor and Real Estate Development in Southern
California in the Early Twentieth Century"
1990 William Goetzman,
"Re-Mythologizing the American West"
1991 Doyce Nunis, "Medicine in Hispanic California"
Ridge, "California: The Imagined Country"
1993 Gloria Lothrop,
"Rancheras on the Land: Women and Property Rights
in Hispanic California"
1994 David Weber, "Writers, Readers,
and the Meaning of the Spanish Frontier in North America"
1995 Richard Griswold del Castillo, "Cesar Estrada Chavez:
The Final Struggle"
1996 Donald Worster,
“Landscape with Hero: John Wesley Powell and the Colorado
1997 Iris Engstrand,
“The 18th Century Enlightenment Comes to California”
1998 Richard White, “Disney’s Nature: Walt Disney and the Nature
1999 Norris Hundley, Jr., “Whither Californians and Their Water: Environmental
Protection or Environmental Disaster”
2000 Glenda Riley, “‘Saving the Wild West’: Women’s
Role in the Early Conservation Movement”
2001 Janet Fireman, "Horizons of
Paradise: Perspectives on Los
2002 Elliott West, “Listen Up: Hearing the Unheard in Western
2003 Leonard Pitt, “The ‘Quiet Revolution’: The History of
Neighborhood Empowerment in Los
Angeles since 1850"
2004 Stephen Aron, “The Afterlives of Lewis
2005 Roger Lotchin, “The Bad City
in the Good War: California Cities in the Second Great War”
2006 Phil Deloria,
Pioneer Lecture Series
In 1991 the Whitsett
Committee initiated the Valley Pioneer Lecture Series to honor contributors
to the Valley Pioneer Scholarships. The series consists of occasional lectures
pertaining to topics of current interest to the community.
Graduate Seminar in California
Friday, March 24th, the Department of History, and College of Social
and Behavioral Sciences will host the First Annual Whitsett Graduate Seminar in California History.
Supported Undergraduate and Graduate Research
Whitsett Endowment generously supports student
travel and research in California
courses. In Spring of 2006, students in Dr. Josh Sides’ HIST 497: San
Francisco Neighborhoods will travel to San
Francisco to conduct research for their final