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Did You Know... 1916 San Francisco Customs Employees Published A Tribute to Their Co-Workers?

 

The frontispiece of the book. Depicting the then four-year-old custom house in San Francisco.

The front is piece of the book. Depicting the then four-year-old custom house in San Francisco.

This is the first of what is hoped to be an ongoing series of reproductions of history-related monographs and publications produced and/or published by the legacy agencies that today are part of CBP.

A book titled "U.S. Customs and Kindred Services" was produced by a committee of 10 members of the San Francisco Custom House staff. Customs Examiner Earl B. Morris wrote much of the text, composed numerous verses, and served as editor. Customs Examiner Patrick B. Devine and Customs Boarding Officer Victor J. Lindquist are the two talented artists who produced the marvelous caricatures of the San Francisco team that toiled at the port at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Quoting briefly from the book's "Foreword" will present the basis for undertaking such a personal, and often humorous, picture of the lives of the dedicated men and women who worked on the wharves, in the boarding station, on Angel Island, in the Appraiser's Stores and in the Custom House at San Francisco:

  • "Time, the great healer of our sorrows, in its onward flight, often also causes us to grow dim in our memories those happier times, the recollections of which we would like to retain. Thus the printed word and picture causes us to pause and on the wings of reminiscence we are taken back to the days of long ago.
  • With that object in view this souvenir book is presented to the employees of the United States Customs Service at San Francisco and their colleagues of the waterfront. The caricatures, the prose and the verse are all the product of the 'boys' of the front."
Caricaturist & Customs Examiner Patrick Devine draws caricaturist & Boarding Officer Victor Lindquist working on a caricature of editor & Customs Examiner Earl Morris.

Caricaturist & Customs Examiner Patrick Devine draws caricaturist & Boarding Officer Victor Lindquist working on a caricature of editor & Customs Examiner Earl Morris.

This is the story of the work of the Port of San Francisco - not just about the Customs Service at the port. Interwoven throughout the book you will find tributes to

  • The U.S. Immigration Service (Dept. of Labor) and the U.S. Public Health Service - with main site of operations on Angel Island
  • The Horticultural Quarantine Service (USDA)
  • The Bureau of Animal Industry (USDA)
  • The Pure Food Laboratory (USDA)
  • Customs brokers
  • The State of California, which managed the port and its infrastructure
  • The Harbor Station force of the San Francisco Police Department

The book was written just four years after the opening of the new San Francisco Custom House on Battery Street, which recently celebrated the centennial of its opening in 1911. San Francisco was in the throes of preparing for the Pan Pacific International Exposition, and it was less than two years before the United States entered World War I.

Caricaturist & Customs Examiner Patrick Devine draws Dr. Hazen H. Hicks, veterinary inspector with the USDA's Bureau of Animal Industry.

Caricaturist & Customs Examiner Patrick Devine draws Dr. Hazen H. Hicks, veterinary inspector with the USDA's Bureau of Animal Industry.

The exposition opened in February of 1915 and closed in December of the same year; there was a staff of 26 customs, immigration and agriculture officers assigned to the exposition site during the three years of construction. Angel Island in San Francisco Bay was opened in 1910; it was considered the Ellis Island of the west and the main point of operations for the Immigration Service and the Public Health Service.

The book is being reproduced as it was originally published in 1915. Written by "the boys" at the port as a private publication, there are a few passages sprinkled throughout the text that today would be considered inappropriate. Today, the book presents a lively picture of the San Franciscans at the port of entry at work preparing for the Pan Pacific International Exposition at the beginning of the twentieth century.

The CBP History Program is interested in your history. Do you have a story to tell, a photograph or artifact to share? Contact us at CBPHistory@dhs.gov.