The Wonderful Earle Florence

Over the past few years, we’ve been pretty proud to develop a collecting strength in the area of architectural records. Because a lot of the great mid-century architects here in the Valley have left the field in recent years, the architectural community has reached out to archivists to make sure that these records don’t find their way into dumpsters! We cannot thank this architectural records advisory board enough for introducing us to Earle Florence!

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Earle in his studio, completing a landscape sketch to contribute to his pal Christopher’s coffee table train set.

Earle received some architectural training at the University of Michigan, but did most of his learning on his own. He didn’t graduate, but did go on to join the American Institute of Architects. He married his sweetheart Donna in the 1950s, the couple relocated to Arizona, and Earle began working in the architecture field in the early 1960s. Earle’s name shows up in the company of many well-known architects in Phoenix – he worked with Bennie Gonzales, partnered with George Schoneberger, and jokes about being fired by Ralph Haver.


Earle and Donna at their home in Mesa, shortly before they relocated to the East Coast.

There is no question that Earle is a brilliant architect, and he produced a variety of wonderful residential, commercial, and civic projects. He told stories of designing a house in the Bahamas for Charles Keating (yes…THAT Charles Keating!), of working with Bennie Gonzales on the Scottsdale Civic Center, and the Henrich House. The Henrich Project never got to construction, but Earle told us, “this would have been my zenith.”


Earle told us that the Henrich House would have been his “zenith.” What an incredible house it would have been!

Earle is a fantastic architect, but like many other architects, he also shines artistically. Through the years, he has filled volumes and volumes of notebooks with beautiful art and his musings on the world around him.

We were very honored to receive the Earle Florence collection here at the State Archives over the past few months. Earle contributed architectural records, artists’ journals, photographs, and other materials, many of which are inventoried on our ARIZONA STATE KNOWLEDGE DATABASE. You can also go directly to the FULL FINDING AID.

We would like to thank both Earle and Donna Florence for making sure that this collection was saved for future generations, as well as their wonderful hospitality and storytelling throughout the transfer process. We wish them all the very best in their new home on the East Coast!




Dillinger Days!

As Tucson prepares for the annual Dillinger Days, we thought we’d share what we have – or rather, what we don’t have – in the archives. dillinger

But first, the Dillinger back story. John Herbert Dillinger was a well-known Depression-era gangster who operated a group called the “Dillinger Gang,” a notorious group wanted for robbing 24 banks, four police stations, and was charged with the murder of an Indiana police officer. Dillinger was also famous for escaping jail twice, and found his way to Tucson to lay low after the gang’s crime sprees.

The group was spending some time at Hotel Congress, but on January 22, 1934, their plans to hide out were interrupted. A fire started in the basement of the hotel, and following an evacuation, Tucson firefighters retrieved nearly $24,000 in cash stowed away in heavy suitcases. The firemen recognized the gang from True Detective Magazine, tipped off local police, and they were able to capture the gang members on North Second Avenue. Dillinger was extradited to Indiana, where he was placed in jail and escaped once again! In July of 1934, Dillinger met his demise at the hands of Chicago Police, who shot and killed him outside of the Biograph Theater. Hotel Congress still observes the illustrious gangster’s stay in their hotel with a weekend of Speakeasy fun!


A Spanish Language Newspaper, El Tucsonense, reported on the capture of Dillinger.


And now the archives part. A few years ago, we received some microfilm from the Tucson Police Department containing several years of police reports. We were able to locate the police report sheets for all of Dillinger’s accomplices, but the sheet for Dillinger was mysteriously missing from the roll of film! The suspense continues. Have fun at Dillinger Days if you make it this weekend! dillinger-and-gang0001 dillinger-and-gang0002 dillinger-and-gang0003 dillinger-and-gang0004 dillinger-and-gang0005 dillinger-and-gang0006 dillinger-and-gang0007 dillinger-and-gang0008

Mold and foxing and termite damage, oh my!

We recently received a transfer of some pretty nasty county records, and in the spirit of starting the new year off right, we are tackling the challenge. Unfortunately, these records have both mold and termite damage! Some will be microfilmed and destroyed, while others are beyond repair. archivistscoverupA few things to know:

  1. Be careful about where you store records! Leaky basements, musty attics, or outbuildings like barns and sheds are not appropriate storage!
  2. It’s a lot easier to be proactive about storage of records than to repair them later (and a lot less expensive!)
  3. Mold is one of the biggest threats to the health of archivists. We appreciate it when folks take care of their records so we don’t have to worry about this when they come!

If you have any questions about the storage of your records, feel free to give us a call at 602.926.3720.

Remembering Rose Mofford

Yesterday, Arizona said goodbye to former Governor Rose Mofford, so we’ve been spending time with some of our favorite materials related to her long career of service here in Arizona. Stop by and see some of the treasures we have on display here at the archives, including Mofford’s 7th grade yearbook in Globe.


“Sat., 30 Sep. 1978 – Arizona Secretary of State Rose Mofford takes a turn on the serving line at Hays Ranch, Peeples Valley, Ariz. – during 45th Annual Yavapai Cattle Growers calf sale and barbecue.” Lloyd Clark Collection, MG 86, Series 1, Box 11, File 69, Image 057.


One of Rose Mofford’s legendary holiday cards.

Rose Perica was born in Globe, Arizona on June 10, 1922, the youngest of six children of Croation immigrants Frances (Oberstar) and John Perica. She attended Globe High School, and exceled both academically and athletically. Rose played basketball and softball, including earning  All-American status as a member of the Arizona Cantaloupe Queens, and turned down a contract to play basketball.



She married Lefty Mofford in 1957, and although the couple divorced ten years later, they remained friends and she kept his surname. She never remarried, never had children, but dedicated her life to civil service in Arizona for more than 50 years. After high school, she began working as a secretary for the State Treasurer, and later as business manager for Arizona Highways. She was appointed Secretary of State in 1977 following the resignation of Raul Castro and Wesley Bolin’s subsequent appointment as governor, and was elected to a full term in 1978. She served as Secretary of State until 1988, when she was elected as Arizona’s first female governor.  A Democrat, she served as Governor from 1988 until 1991, and did not seek re-election.
After leaving public office, Rose Mofford continued to dedicate herself to civic and charitable activities. She passed away on September 15, 2016 at the age of 94. She is remembered for her beehive hairdo, for answering her own phone, and for having a “heart as big as her hair.”

Yesterday’s Vision of Tomorrow

Can you imagine a world without computers? We use them every day in our work, and even have them in our pockets! But when Betty West (Chief Clerk of the Arizona House of Representatives) attended a  seminar on the possible usefulness of computers for legislative work in 1970, she wasn’t convinced. “I am doubtful as to Arizona being ready for computers at this time for legislative work.” The following month, Betty visited the American Micro Systems, Inc. plant in San Jose and scored these computer parts. Our contractor Brianna found these parts filed away in some boxes we received from a member of the House research staff when he retired.

*Fun fact: did you know that we maintain several old computers and machines to help us with our obsolete media? Computers have been tremendous for convenience and efficiency, but digital records have produced a whole host of challenges for archivists in terms of preservation!


Introducing the Arizona State Knowledge Center!

KCArchivesAnnouncing the new web based portal for exploring the archive collections at the State Archives of Arizona, the Arizona State Knowledge Center

Do you want to find out which marriage records for Gila County are housed at the state archives?  Just ASK.  Want to find out which records the State Archives has on the Wyatt Earp inquest? Just ASK!  If you’re interested in information about the Alternative Fuel Program, just ASK.

By going to the Arizona State Knowledge Center Catalog  you can research what archival material is housed at the State Archives.  You can either type into the Search Collections tab a search term or terms, check out our Core Collections, or simply browse all of our collections through the Browse by collection tab.

Your search will bring up finding guides that describe the collection, and in many cases provide a file by file list of what is in each collection.  Once you know what collections you are interested in viewing you can stop by the Polly Rosenbaum State Archives and History Building at 1901 W. Madison, Phoenix, Arizona during regular business hours and talk to an archivist about viewing the material in the collections.


“Kitteh can research teh Game & Fish Commission from home!”

Where the heck is Mineville, Arizona?!

Thanks to Archivist Laura Palma-Blandford for this one! 

One of the great things about working at the State Archives is there’s always something to surprise and befuddle you.  We received several Cochise County Justice Court dockets from the Tombstone Courthouse State Park.  I was reviewing one of the dockets to determine its dates when I found an usual case titled “Town of Mineville, Rhiolite County, Arizona vs. Manuel Hernandez and confederates”.  Mineville?   Rhiolite County?  Had I uncovered a previous unknown location in Arizona?

Full pageIf the weird location wasn’t enough, a quick analysis revealed other signs that someone created a fake case.  The previous pages in the docket book are clean and in good shape.  Our conservator concluded that the person had rubbed dirt on the pages to possibly make them look “historical”.  Also, docket books generally do not include verbatim testimony and clerks refrained from using exclamation points.  The legitimate records date from 1901 but the fake case claimed Rhiolite County was in the State of Arizona suggesting that this was done after 1912.

closeupInstances like these are one of the reasons why government archives are adamant about maintaining chain of custody on records being transferred from the creating agency to the archive.  The Arizona State Archives needs to be able to verify that records haven’t left government custody and been altered.  Since the chain of custody was broken and the docket book altered, the entire record has been compromised and a court of law could refuse to take it as evidence.

I do not think this was done with malicious intent but I think it serves as a good reminder of why records should be recognized as having enduring value, even the mundane ones from 1901.