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San Diego Corral of the Westerners (1967-2012) | Special Collections & University Archives

Name: San Diego Corral of the Westerners (1967-2012)
Variant Name: The Westerners, San Diego Corral

Historical Note:

The San Diego Corral of the Westerners is part of the Westerners non-profit organization, which began in 1944 and has both national and international membership.  Chartered in 1967, the San Diego Corral of the Westerners was formed by people invested in sharing their love and knowledge of various facets of the American West.  Additionally, the Corral was affiliated with Westerners International, a non-profit foundation first established in 1959 to facilitate communication and cooperation between the various Corrals and assist in the organization of new Corrals.

According to the San Diego Corral’s Articles of Incorporation, “The specific and primary purpose for which this corporation is formed is to enable men with the common interest to exchange information and knowledge relative to the cultural and historical background of what is commonly termed the West, and to record in permanent form the historical material which the members have and will assemble by diligent research, thus preserving items of Western Americana.”  The group accomplished this goal in three ways: through monthly meetings, publication of a quarterly newsletter called The Wrangler, and publication of Brand Books.

Although the Corral was an exclusively male organization during its formative years, women became progressively more involved, at first through participating in the annual Ladies Night celebrations that featured art shows and guest speakers, and later through membership.  Members gathered monthly to share their knowledge of the West.  Meetings included guest speakers and exhibits.  The Corral also held annual auctions to raise funds for their publications, The Wrangler newsletter and their Brand Books.

The Wrangler newsletter, published from 1968-2007, provided a forum for history buffs and scholars of Western lore to share their knowledge.  According to the Corral’s stated goals, The Wrangler aimed to increase membership, promote the reputation of the Corral through excellence in publication, and provide articles of interest to its members.  In addition to the newsletter, the Corral published nine Brand Books from 1968 to 1996.  The limited edition, hard bound Brand Books represent the highest standards of scholarship and presentation that the Corral had to offer.  The Brand Books were published as a significant part of their contribution to preserving an accurate and well researched history of the West.  Brand Books included themed articles, illustrated art, maps, historic photographs, and archival materials.

Founding members of the Corral included Ray Brandes, Registrar of Marks and Brands (Secretary) and Brand Book Number One editor;  Alfred JaCoby, Keeper of the Chips (Treasurer);  John Jeffrey, Sheriff (President); Gerald MacMullen, Librarian; and Richard Yale, Deputy Sheriff (Editor of The Wrangler).  Several active members held many positions over the years, including Horace Dodd, whose contributions included acting as Sheriff, Registrar of Marks and Brands, Keeper of the Chips, and editor of several Brand Books.  In the last decade prior to dissolution, a core group of active members, such as Ken Cilch, Richard Lay, Robert Welch, Russell Litchfield, Bob Michaelis, and George Ellis, kept the Corral running by contributing in many capacities.

After many years of declining membership, the San Diego Corral of the Westerners dissolved in the first quarter of 2014.

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