Vivian M. Obern Papers
The Vivian Obern Papers cover the efforts made by organizers and participants to recreate the expedition by Juan Bautista de Anza and his party of 240 settlers from northern Mexico to northern California in 1776. The first reenactment took place during the American Bicentennial in 1976. Vie Obern was instrumental in organizing riders from Santa Barbara to ride in the event, and she corresponded with many landowners to obtain permission for the riders to pass through properties up and down the state. Documentation on the establishment of the Anza National Historic Trail, authorized by Congress in 1990 is also covered. In her role as corresponding secretary for the Santa Barbara County Trails Council, Obern was involved in efforts to establish and maintain recreational trails throughout the county and California. Obern also served for five years on the California Recreational Trails committee. Materials include correspondence, clippings, photographs, audio tapes, and publications about the various events and organizations associated with Anza.
- 1965 - 2007
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open to researchers.
Conditions Governing Use
All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Archivist and Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation Research Center as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader. Copyright restrictions also apply to digital facsimiles of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.
3 Linear Feet ( - in 3 boxes; 2 record storage boxes and 1 deep lid archival flat box.)
The Vivian M. Obern Papers cover efforts made during the 1976 American Bicentennial by organizers and participants to recreate the expedition by Juan Bautista de Anza and his party of 240 settlers from northern Mexico to northern California two hundred years ealier in 1776. The collection also contains documents regarding the efforts of the Santa Barbara County Trails Council to establish and maintain recreational trails throughout the county. Materials include correspondence, clippings, photographs, audio tapes, one videotape, and publications about the various events and organizations associated with Anza.
Biographical / Historical
Vivian “Vie” Marie (Hapeman) Obern was born on May 26, 1921 in Park Ridge, Illinois. She graduated from Principia College in 1942 after majoring in political science and art. She married Earl George Obern in 1942 and they moved to Santa Barbara in 1947, raising three children there.
In Santa Barbara, Obern, along with her husband, was active in historic and environmental preservation. An avid equestrian, in 1967 she helped found the Santa Barbara County Trails Council to create and preserve hiking, riding, biking, and backcountry trails. She also served for five years on the California State Recreational Trails Committee, appointed by Governor Ronald Reagan. She was co-chair of the local chapter of Small Wilderness Area Preservation (SWAP) and helped save the Wilcox Property in Santa Barbara as an open space preserve. She was chair of the 1976 Santa Barbara County Bicentennial Committee and in 1976 began organizing a series of re-enactments of the 1776 historic expedition of Juan Bautista de Anza from northern Mexico to northern California, in which she also participated as a rider. Vivian and George Obern were also active equestrian participants in the yearly Old Spanish Days parade in Santa Barbara, representing members of the de la Guerra wedding party and the de Anza expedition.
Obern was also an active trustee and President of the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation for many years, organizing the Santa Barbara Birthday event (Founding Day) held annually in April at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park. The George and Vivian Obern Preservation Stewardship Award, given each year, is named in honor of their work. She also worked for over 30 years on behalf of La Purisima Misison State Historic Park on their Citizens’ Advisory Committee.
Vivian Obern’s community activism has been recognized by many honors and awards. She was named 1989 Santa Barbara Woman of the Year; she and George were honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award for dedication to trails and open space, from the California Department of Parks in 1997; they were named co-recipients of the 1998 Pearl Chase Award for Historic and Environmental Preservation; and in 1999 they received a Preservation Award from the California Heritage Council for the preservation and restoration of Hope House in Santa Barbara.
These papers are organized into 3 series:
Series 1. Juan Bautista de Anza Expedition and Reenactment, 1971-2007
Series 2. Trail Activities, 1965-2003
Series 3. Personal Papers, 1973-2005
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gifted by Vivian Obern to Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, August 22, 2006.
Files from Vivian Obern's papers concerning the acquisition of the Wilcox Property in Santa Barbara, the commercial development of the Santa Barbara waterfront, and the building of a hotel by Fess Parker were donated to the Santa Barbara Historical Museum.
A commemorative T-shirt from the Columbus Quincentennial celebration in 1992 was transferred to the curatorial collection in the Research Center. Miscellaneous books and publications were added to the library collection.
Photographs of the Anza Reenactment in Santa Barbara were transferred to the photo collection in the Presidio Research Center.
The Vivian M. Obern Papers were processed and collection guide written by Laurie Hannah in 2015.
The collection guide was updated by Chris S. Ervin, 2020-03-23.
- Guide to the Vivian M. Obern Papers
- Chris S. Ervin CA
- Description rules
- Language of description