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Charles Clarke Chapman Papers, 1844-1972

 Series — Box: 1

Scope and Contents

The Charles Clarke Chapman papers consist of his papers, photographs, notes he made in co-writing his autobiography, The Career of a Creative Californian, 1853-1944. Included is his academic robe, pamphlets collected, scrapbooks of newspaper articles, speeches he made on various topics including the citrus culture, Christian church dedications, and at Chapman College. It also includes business and personal papers, and papers relating to his deep involvement with Chapman College.


  • Creation: 1844-1972


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on the use of this material.

Biographical / Historical

Charles C. Chapman was born on July 2, 1853 in Macomb, McDonough County, Illinois. He was the third of ten children of Sidney Smith and Rebecca Clarke Chapman. Following the death of Rebecca, Charles' father married her sister, Anne Eliza Clarke, and they had three children, Ira, Earl, and Nina. David and Anne Clarke were his maternal grandparents, and Jacob Kimble and Julia Griffith Chapman were his paternal grandparents. Charles was educated until he was twelve. He was a lifelong member of the Christian Church. He worked at various enterprises, bricklaying, the grocery business and at the age of 23 went to work for his Uncle, S.J. Clarke. This job entailed canvassing the county to gather materials to publish a county history in book form. Eventually Charles was joined by his brother Frank and together they formed Chapman Brothers Publishing.

In their hometown of Macomb, Illinois, and later in their adopted state of California, Charles and his older brother Frank were partners in a variety of business ventures, many of which were extremely successful, especially the publishing and printing business and land purchase and development. The two brothers were able to buy, sell and trade property. They developed much of the property, especially in Los Angeles and Fullerton. Notably, after moving to Southern California in 1894, the brothers quickly began to establish a successful citrus growing business. A full review of their business interests can be found in the book, Charles C. Chapman, the Career of a Creative Californian, 1853-1944, Donald H. Pflueger, editor (Los Angeles: Anderson, Ritchie & Simon, 1976). Through their business ventures, both men amassed considerable wealth and contributed greatly to the development of California. Charles, in particular, became a very prominent leader in business as well as in religious, educational, and civic concerns. His farming and business innovations and his resulting prominence as an industry leader earned him the title of “Father of the Valencia Orange Industry.”

In 1884 Charles married Lizzie Pearson. The couple lived in Chicago, where their two children, Ethel and Stanley, were born. In June, 1894, the family moved to Los Angeles so that Lizzie, who suffered from tuberculosis, might benefit from the milder climate. In that same year, however, Lizzie passed away on September 23, 1894. In 1898 Charles married Clara Irvin, and in 1911 their son Irvin Clarke (Ernie) was born. Charles and his brother, Frank, lived on the same ranch in Covina for awhile but in 1899 Charles and his family moved to Fullerton, California and made their home. Charles became very active in the development of the area, and in 1904 he was elected the newly incorporated City of Fullerton’s first Mayor. He built a large home for his family on Commonwealth Avenue in 1903. In 1905, on the southeast corner of Spadra (now Harbor Boulevard) and Wilshire Avenues he built a modern five story office building. In that same year, on the northeast corner of the same intersection, he built the Fullerton First Christian Church, for which he helped organize the first congregation, and in which he and his family remained active for many years.

Charles Chapman was a philanthropist who believed in the habit of giving. In his own words, "As I prospered, I tried to shake with others a measure of prosperity. Giving has really afforded me great joy. He was a Mason, a long time member of the Y.M.C.A., the Christian Church, and was very active with the Missionary Society of the church. He tirelessly gave of his time each time a new Christian church was built in Southern California and could be counted on to give a dedicatory speech. Charles also contributed the necessary funds for the erection of a hospital in Nantungchow, China.

Charles Chapman’s religious interests were a central part of his life. He was a member of the Christian Church of the Disciples (Disciples of Christ), a denomination that established many schools in the United States. In 1919 he and other church leaders saw the need for a college to train young men for the Church’s ministry. In that year, C.C. Chapman donated $400,000 for the establishment of such a college and his donation was matched by the combined donations of other Church members. This financial campaign resulted in the founding of the California School of Christianity in 1920. In 1923 the name was changed to California Christian College, and changed once again in 1934 to Chapman College in honor of Charles C. Chapman, the College’s chief benefactor and president of its Board of Trustees from 1918 to 1938.


17.2 Linear Feet (20 boxes)

Language of Materials



The papers of Charles C. Chapman include files he personally kept and organized and a few items such as his academic robe, some photographs and some citrus fruit labels that his family deposited at a later date. Charles C. Chapman's papers include his files pertaining to his long association with Chapman College, speeches he gave on over 400 occasions, copius notes by topic for his autobiography, pamphlets and news articles of interest to him, and personal and business papers.


Arrangement of these papers adheres to the original order, for the most part. Charles C. Chapman was extremely organized and for instance, indexed and organized all his speeches. His autobiography notes for his book and his scrapbooks were all organized by him. The arrangement is in alphabetical order by series type.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Deposit by the family.

Separated Materials

Oversized photographs, citrus labels, and other ephemera are filed in the flat files.

Repository Details

Part of the University Archives, Frank Mt. Pleasant Library of Special Collections & Archives Repository

Chapman University
One University Drive
Orange CA 92866 USA US