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Midnight Mission and Tom and Mary Liddecoat papers

 Collection
Identifier: 0413

Scope and Content

The papers of the Midnight Mission and of Tom and Mary Liddecoat consist of correspondence, clippings, ephemera, photographs, and legal and financial documents that document the personal and business history of the Liddecoat family, the Midnight Mission, and various other charities and individuals associated with the Liddecoat family; specifically, the collection documents two generations of the Liddecoat family and their involvement in charitable organizations. Included are biographical and genealogical materials; papers relating to the founding and maintenance of the Midnight Mission by Tom Liddecoat; papers relating to the Gospel Foundation of America, founded by Albert Johson and managed by Mary Liddecoat; and materials relating to the development of Walnut Creek from properties managed by Miss Liddecoat. The material is sometimes sketchy, and the collection is haphazard, but there are remarkable holographic memoirs included as sketches found penciled into otherwise unrelated documents.

Dates

  • 1899 - 2005

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

None.

Publication Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to the California Social Welfare Archives. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the appropriate agency or person.

Historical Note

Tom "Brother Tom" Liddecoat (1874-1942) owned a lucrative packing firm in turn of the century Los Angeles. In 1914, he turned away from this business and began a mission to help the poor and the homeless on LA's streets. This became the Midnight Mission. Liddicoat and his daughter Mary ran the Mission until shortly before his death.

The Mission was initially funded by $100,000 of Liddecoat's own money. Soon, other donations came in. From 1924 on, Liddecoat returned to the packing business in order to help fund the Mission. Aided by anonymous benefactors like Walter Webb, Liddecoat was ultimately to receive donations from several wealthy men.

Among the Mission's strongest supporters were Albert M. Johnson and Harry Chandler. Johnson owned a home in Chicago, 1620 acres of land in Death Valley including a "castle" he had built there, that was widely held to be the property of Johnson's friend, "Death Valley Scotty," and a 326 acre ranch in Ygnacio Valley, called Shadelands Ranch.

After Johnson's death, all this property was willed to the Gospel Foundation of California, a non-profit Christian charity established by Johnson in the mid-1940's. Mary Liddecoat became the president of the Foundation. Following her understanding of Johnson's intent, Miss Liddecoat systematically sold off the Gospel Foundation properties to support a wide variety of Christian charitable institutions over the years. The records indicate a special attention to children's charities, children's camps, and a school created on Shadelands property for children with cerebral palsy.

Extent

5 Boxes (8 linear feet)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

The papers of the Midnight Mission and of Tom and Mary Liddecoat consist of material that documents the personal and business history of the Liddecoat family, the Midnight Mission, and various other charities and individuals associated with the Liddecoat family; specifically, the collection documents two generations of the Liddecoat family and their involvement in charitable organizations such as the Midnight Mission, the Gospel Foundation of America, and charitable organizations on the family's ranch in Walnut Creek, California.

Organization

This collection is organized into the following series:



1. Liddecoate Family; 2. Midnight Mission; 3. Gospel Foundation of America

Acquisition Information

The material was acquired by friends and associates of Miss Mary Liddecoat.

Processing Note

The papers of the Midnight Mission and of Tom and Mary Liddecoat were in less than perfect order and poorly preserved when they arrived at the CSWA archives. Much of the original collection consisted of unattributed photographs and highly deteriorated newspaper clippings collections. Samples of the photographs were given special attention for preservation. Newspapers were photocopied. The collection also contains a great deal of extraneous material, in particular that dealing with Death Valley. Given the intinsic interest of some of this material, it has been retained, but the researcher should note that some of this material is more germaine to California regional historical research than Social Welfare research.
Title
Finding Aid for the Midnight Mission and Tom and Mary Liddecoat papers
Status
Completed
Author
John Howard Fowler
Date
©2003
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English.

Repository Details

Part of the USC Libraries Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Doheny Memorial Library 206
3550 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles California 90089-0189 United States