Joseph Pomeroy Widney
— July 4
) was a polymathic
pioneer American physician
, medical topographer, scholar-educator, clergyman
, philosopher of religion, controversial racial
theorist, and prolific author. Widney was a 19th century "renaissance man
", his multiple talents earned him a nickname, the "Father of Southern California
" where he lived for most of his adult life and his great contributions developed the region in the late 19th century.
He served as the second President of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California and as the founding dean of the USC School of Medicine, and was one of the co-founders and first general superintendents of the Church of the Nazarene, and the primary founder of the Los Angeles County Medical Association. One of the "most conspicuous Southern Californians of his generation", Widney was a cultural leader in Los Angeles for nearly seventy years and the "mystic seer in residence and prophet of Southern Californian Anglo-Saxonism".
Ohio: Childhood and Education (1841-1861)
Joseph Pomeroy Widney was born on 26 December 1841
in a large two-story six-room log cabin owned by his grandfather in Piqua, Ohio
in the forests of Miami County, Ohio
in the midst of the Miami tribe
, the third son of John Wilson Widney (born 4 December 1809; died 1852) and Arabella Maclay Widney (born 1811; died 15 February 1880). At the age of fifteen, Joseph became the de facto head of the family after his father died of pneumonia at the age of 42, as his two older brothers John Widney (1837-1925) and Robert Maclay Widney
(1838-1929) had already migrated west to California. He had the responsibility of providing for his mother, two younger brothers: William Wilson Widney (born 25 December 1850) and Samuel Alexander Widney (born 15 November 1852), and two younger sisters: Arabella Erwin Widney (born 1843) and Elizabeth Widney (born 1848) (latter married to Joseph Leggett).
After graduating from Piqua High School, Widney was granted advanced placement as a sophomore at the Miami University at Oxford, Ohio, even though he was qualified to enter as a junior classman. At University, Widney studied Latin, Greek, and the classics. His entire collegiate career only last five months. In 1907, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws (LL.D.) degree in recognition of the scholarship as revealed in his Race Life of the Aryan Peoples. The poet-preacher David Swing was one of his instructors.
Civil War Military Service (1861-1862)
In 1861 he discontinued his studies to enlist in the Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment of the Union Army in the Civil War
. Despite his own frail health, Widney served initially in the field as a regular infantryman, but later became a medical corpsman. He was trained to administer first aid to wounded soldiers, and served an apprenticeship in both medicine and surgery. He was transferred onto steamers on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers in a medical capacity. Widney was discharged from the Union army in 1862 due to a physical and nervous collapse after a year of working with casualties.
Migration to California (1862-1865)
Desiring restoration of his health, and with the encouragement of his two older brothers and his uncle, Charles Maclay
, who had migrated to California previously, Widney sailed to San Francisco, California
via the Isthmus of Panama
, arriving in November 1862, prior to his twenty-first birthday. During the next two or three years, Widney travelled extensively throughout California on horseback. During this time he visited the missions and lived with the Spanish-speaking inhabitants, learning their culture and their language. As his health improved, one night he believed he had an encounter with God, while camped out in the redwoods. He recalled, "That night I reached out and touched God's infinite".
Graduate Education (1865-1866)
He returned to university in 1865, completing a Master of Arts
degree from the California Wesleyan College (later the University of the Pacific
), (then located at Santa Clara, California
). In January 1866, Widney moved to San Francisco and on 4 June 1866
commenced the third session of the medical course at the Toland Medical College
(which later became part of the University of California, San Francisco
, graduating at the head of his class with a Doctor of Medicine
(M.D.) degree on 2 October 1866
. He was awarded a gold medal in recognition of his superior scholarship.
Marriage to Ida DeGraw Tuthill (1869-1879)
Widney was married twice. His first wife was Ida DeGraw Tuthill Widney (born 17 November 1844
in Orient in Suffolk County, Long Island, New York), whom he married on 17 May 1869
in San Jose, California
. Together they had three children, each of whom died in infancy: Ada, who died after convulsions at the age of fourteen months in August 1870; an unnamed son who died in 1872; and another son, Joseph T. Widney, who died after convulsions aged six months old in June 1874. They lived in a Victorian mansion at 129 S. Hill Street in the Bunker Hill, Los Angeles, California
area, next to his brother Judge Robert M. Widney
(who lived at 127 S. Hill Street). His first wife, Ida D. Widney died in Los Angeles on 10 February 1879
and is buried in the Los Angeles City Cemetery, in the same family plot as the children who preceded her in death.
Marriage to Mary Bray (1882-1903)
Widney remarried on 27 December 1882
in Santa Clara, California
to Miss Mary Bray (born 26 April 1845
), the daughter of the late John G. Bray, a pioneer merchant of San Francisco, and the first president of the San Jose Bank. Mrs. Mary Widney had been a respected artist prior to her marriage. They had no children. Mary was well-regarded as "a cultured and accomplished lady". On 18 February 1884
flooding of the Los Angeles River
resulted in the loss of 43 homes. "Widney lost the most expensive house in the area, built fifteen months before at the foot of Sainsevain Street [now East Commercial Street] at a cost of $2000". Dr. and Mrs. Widney subsequently established their new home at 150 W. Adams Boulevard (formerly S. 26th Street), nearer to the newly established University of Southern California. As the founder of the Flower Festival Society, which she started in 1885, Mary Widney was responsible for organising flower festivals that raised enormous sums to support the Woman's Home, a home for up to seventy poor working women that they had opened on 1 March 1887
on 4th Street (between Los Angeles and Main Streets); and the Woman's Exchange. Mary Bray Widney died on 10 March 1903
at their home at 150 W. Adams Boulevard, Los Angeles. Dr Widney never remarried. Various relatives lived with him, including his younger sister Arabella Erwin Widney (born 1843).
Later Years (1929-1938)
In 1929 Widney was badly injured as a result of being struck by an automobile as it was backing out from the curb. According to Widney,
an automobile accident left me with a fractured skull, fracture of the cervical spine, several broken ribs and some injuries of the skull, leading to blindness and defective hearing with severe and continuous pain about the base of the skull which, even yet, has hardly ceased.
His hearing was severely impaired. By 1937 he was blind. Widney's biographer, Dr. Carl Rand, believes that the failure of his eyesight in latter years was due to the development of senile cataracts
, which Widney refused to have removed. Nevertheless, Widney wrote four books in this period with the assistance of his sister-in-law, Mrs. Anna Elizabeth "Hettie" D. Jenkins Widney and her sister, Mrs. Rebecca Davis Macartney. In 1935 Widney was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity
(D.D.) degree from the University of Southern California in recognition of his life of scholarly contributions.
Widney died at 10:50 a.m. on 4 July 1938
in his home at 3901 Marmion Way, Highland Park, Los Angeles, California
, aged 96. Dr Seletz believes that his final illness was caused by "occlusion of a posterior cerebellar artery (also known as a Posterior cerebral artery Stroke
). After a funeral held in his own home, he was buried in the Evergreen Cemetery
at Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, California
on 6 July 1938
in his family plot. A replica of his Marmion Way bedroom is on display at the General Phineas Banning
Residential Museum in Wilmington, California
In March 1939 the newly built Crippled Children's High School (located at 2302 S. Gramercy Place, Los Angeles) was renamed the Dr. Joseph Pomeroy Widney High School
. This school is for those aged 13 to 22 with special educational needs. The historic Widney Hall Alumni House (now located at 650 Child's Way (originally W. 36th Street) at the University of Southern California), Widney Hall, the university's original building, was declared a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument (No. 70) on 16 December 1970
. The University of Southern California honors its distinguished graduates by presenting the Widney Alumni Award. His portrait was painted by American artist Orpha Mae Klinker
(born 20 November 1891; died 23 May 1964), and a bust of Widney was sculpted by Emil Seletz
Widney and medicine
Widney as military surgeon
After his graduation from Toland Medical College (the only medical school operating at that time in California) on 2 October 1866
, Widney re-enlisted in the army as a military surgeon in January 1867 for a two-year tour of duty. He was posted to Drum Barracks
in Wilmington, California
for a month in 1867, before being appointed Acting Assistant Surgeon for the Arizona Territory
during the Apache Wars
. During this time he served with the 14th Infantry Regiment
under General James Henry Carleton
(1814-1873). During this period the regiment camped for several weeks two miles south of La Paz, Arizona
en route to Camp Date Creek (sometimes known as Camp Date Post), where they were based for several months where he helped reestablish that post. By July 1867 he was based near Apache Pass
during the re-building of Fort Bowie
, where he supervised the building of the Post Hospital.
In December 1867 he requested the Medical Director grant his discharge from the military. There was little fighting during his tour of duty and very few wounds to attend. Consequently, while in the military, his interest in climatology increased. He sent detailed reports regarding the region's rainfall, topography, and climate. Rand concludes that the Arizona Campaign "contributed much more to his appreciation of life in general than to his medical career". During his time in the desert Widney "found God, in a way that transformed his life", and so "returned from Arizona a changed man".
Widney as private physician
In late 1868, Widney was discharged from the military and moved to the embryonic community of Los Angeles. Widney began private medical practice on 8 October, 1868, sharing offices with Dr John Strother Griffin
(1816-1898), in the old Temple Block (corner of Temple and South Main Streets, Los Angeles). Among those he treated in the next few years was General William Tecumseh Sherman
and Mexican bandido Tiburcio Vasquez
, as well as the indigent ill.
Los Angeles County Medical Association
Prior to the passing of a bill to regulate medical practice (known popularly as the "Anti-Quackery Law") by the California State Legislature on 3 April 1876
, it was possible for anyone to practice medicine in California without a license. The medical profession was not recognized legally by the State before this date and it was common for medical practitioners to advertise (and exaggerate) their medical skills in the newspapers. Concerned about the "medical quackery" proliferating in California, and also at lax local health and state licensing legislation, on 31 January 1871
, Dr Widney was the one most responsible for the founding of the Los Angeles County Medical Association
, the longest-serving medical association in California. In fact, Widney became known as "the Father of the Association". The desire of the founders was to establish medical schools and publications, lift the standards in the practice of medicine, as well as the income and status of doctors. "The medical school and society ... aspired to raise standards of professional practice and admission and thus to restrict entry and maintain high income and status. These institutions were badly needed antidotes to the quackery that proliferated in California due to lax local health and state licensing legislation". Widney advocated dispensing aid to "the sickly poor", which he saw as a key facet of public health and civic philanthropy. After 1876, medical licensing was done by the State Medical Society until 1901 when a State Board of Medical Examiners was finally created. Widney was among the very first licensed by the new board in 1876. Dr Widney was elected its president in 1877. On 12 May 1937
, a bust of Dr Widney sculpted by Dr Emil Seletz and commissioned by the Los Angeles County Medical Association was unveiled and placed in the lobby of their headquarters.
Despite his own Christian beliefs, Widney took an active role in opposing unscientific medicine. Among those he opposed were faith healing or "mind cure" practitioners, such as Christian Science and John Alexander Dowie. As early as 1886, Widney, "then professor of the principles and practice of medicine in the college of medicine of the University of Southern California, proposed a protocol for such studies. He believed that
before mind cure can by the rules of scientific evidence claim to be established as a true science, [it] must be able to present cases of cure of organic disease, the existence of the disease and the fact of cure both being authenticated by competent observers - men who through study of disease are to be considered experts;... No such evidence has yet been furnished by the mind cure, and until it is furnished and authenticated beyond question, the verdict upon its claims as a true curative power must be - Not proven.
Widney advocated the organization of both the Los Angeles and California Boards of Health, and was Los Angeles' first public health officer.
Southern California Medical Society
In 1884, Widney helped re-organise the Southern California Medical Society
. Dr Widney served on the Committee on Medical Topography, Meteorology, Endemics
that reported frequently to the Medical Society of the State of California. Widney was a pioneer physician-meteorologist
who was an active exponent of medical topography
, a nineteenth century medical specialty influenced by Alexander von Humboldt
(1769-1859), that studied the relationship between the environment and disease. Linda Nash explains that
medical topography sought to understand geographic locations through the diseases they produced.... To do so, physicians needed to engage not only the medical sciences but also geography, meteorology, geology, and hydrology. Practicing medical topographers endeavored to record all the environmental factors that might affect health in a particular place, and the list was often long: Temperature and altitude were the most critical variables, but also relevant were water quality, the amount and intensity of sunlight, the timing and amount of rainfall, barometric pressure, wind direction, stream discharge, electrical air currents, soil types, dew point, the timing of frosts and spring growth, the temperature of wells, the timing of fish runs, and the occurrence of "causal phenomena"—such as thunderstorms, tornadoes, hailstorms, and meteor showers. In this world, the quest for health required not merely careful attention to the human body but "patient, plodding work with the thermometer, psychrometer, wind vane [and] rain gauge....In comparison to other western regions, a "scientific" medical topography developed quickly in California. Both the strangeness and the variability of the California landscape dictated the need for prodigious amounts of local medical study. In contrast to the more homogenous landscapes of the Middle West, California struck doctors as a place of many different environments, each one with its own effect on health. "If we would make our work and our statistics of any true or permanent value", wrote Dr. Joseph Widney of Los Angeles, "climatic belt must be differentiated from, and contrasted with, climatic belt. It is only thus that our work will lead to a clear understanding of the varied pathological peculiarities of the State....A complicated geography offered not only a scientific challenge but also new possibilities of cure.
Southern California Practitioner
In 1886 Widney helped establish the Southern California Practitioner
, the monthly journal of that society. He served as one of the editors for the first few years. In addition to the discussion of the usual subjects found in such a publication, there was a focus on the climate of Southern California in almost every issue. According to the Illustrated History of Los Angeles County
(1890), the Southern California Practitioner
, which Widney helped establish and edit, there were compelling reasons for this journal to focus on the climate of southern California:
The Practitioner, while treating of all matters pertaining to the science of medicine and surgery, has mapped out for itself as a specialty one particular field, viz.: the careful investigation of the climatic peculiarities and climatic laws of Southern California, and of that great inland plateau which embraces Arizona, New Mexico, and the elevated portion of the interior of Mexico; the effect which these climatic peculiarities may have upon race types, race development, and race diseases; the local changes which through human agency—such as irrigation, drainage, cultivation, planting or clearing of timber—may be produced in climate; the question of race habits, of food, drink and manner of life; the physiological and pathological effects of the crossing of bloods; and all of these questions as affecting the Anglo-Teuton in taking up his abode in this, to him, new climate. This is a new, a broad, and a hitherto unworked field; and the Practitioner hopes to add somewhat to the stock of human knowledge in this direction, and to help toward the solution of these problems. It will also endeavor to present the salient features of various sections of this now widely-known climatic belt, so that physicians in the Eastern States and abroad, who may be recommending a change of climate to invalids or persons of delicate constitutions, may have accurate information upon which to base a selection. In carrying out the plan of work thus outlined, the Practitioner, which is the pioneer in the field, has hardly issued a number without some valuable climatic article; and it has become standard authority throughout the continent in this new line of climatic and disease study.
Widney attributed the health of southern Californian residents to the climate and to the availability of fresh fruit, as it was the leading article of their diet. Widney seemed especially impressed with the therapeutic benefits of strawberries. Widney believed his own long life could be attributed to living simply and keeping busy. He believed that people should eat plain simple food and not eat too much or too often. His own personal health practices included eating a raw onion each morning before breakfast and eating potatoes and salt-pork for breakfast. At age 94, Widney advocated "no liquor, no tobacco, no drugs. I'm not a fanatic on liquor, but to me it is a medicine. I keep it around and take it when I need it. But there is no excuse whatever for tobacco or drugs". He recommended at least eight hours sleep each night and short naps throughout the day.
Despite being "the most distinguished physician in the city", upon his election as the president of the University of Southern California in 1892, Widney discontinued his lucrative medical practice at age 51, only continuing to treat a few personal friends.. However, when he became involved with the Los Angeles City Mission (1894) and the Church of the Nazarene (1895-1898), Widney offered free medical care for those unable to afford treatment.
Widney and the environment
While stationed at Drum Barracks and in the deserts of Arizona, Widney began a lifelong interest in climatology and conservation. Widney served as chairman of the Los Angeles Meteorological committee for several years. Widney credited white settlement with several improvements in the Southern California climate, including less variation in temperature, milder winds, and increased rainfall. Widney was concerned about conserving water and was one of the first to warn about what later came to be called smog
, identifying it as a concern in 1938 (some five years before it was officially recognised in Los Angeles).
Additionally, Widney argued successfully for the setting aside of three great forest areas for the benefit (in a conservation of resources) of generations to come, thus giving impetus to the great work of securing the present water supply for Los Angeles.
Widney and the Salton Sea
As early as January 1873, Widney advocated in print the flooding of the Colorado Desert to re-establish the Salton Sea
. This marked his first appearance in print after his arrival in California. Widney believed that by diverting the Colorado River
into the Salton Sink
that this would increase the rainfall in the area, eliminate the deserts of southern California, and create a new Eden
in what was renamed the Imperial Valley
in about 1901. His creation would stretch from the Delta all the way to Palm Springs
, just as the prehistoric Lake Cahuilla
once had. The huge body of water would create drastic changes in the climate of Southern California, making it "similar to that of the Hawaiian or Bahamian Islands." His plan was cause for great excitement in the press. Widney's proposals strongly influenced those of Oliver Wozencraft
and Arizona Territory Governor General John C. Fremont
, who travelled to Washington to convince Congress of the project's potential. George Wharton James
' book, The Wonders of the Colorado Desert
, published in 1906, introduced the second volume with a whole chapter on Widney's arguments:
In 1873, a Los Angeles booster named JP Widney had proposed that the city create an artificial lake in the nearby Colorado Desert in order to moisten the atmosphere and free the region from the curse of aridity. A mere two decades later, there was more fear that Los Angeles might be blighted by the curse of humidity. In the summer and fall of 1891, heavy rainfall and flooding created the inland sea in question, and with rain continuing for some time, it seemed to be having the effects that Widney had promised. John Wesley Powell took the talk about "the new lake in the desert" to be more wishful thinking by that "class of publicists . . . who are forever presenting schemes for the amelioration of hard climatic conditions", but in fact the reaction in Los Angeles was less rejoicing than dismay. Even Widney now admitted that the change would make the region "less agreeable for residence" though better for farming. If the climate were to become "more more humid than heretofore", asked a newspaper, if the nights were to become "so close, humid, and oppressive that one could easily imagine himself in New York or Indiana", asked one concerned citizen, who would move to southern California? If the new lake meant more "moist, 'sticky' heat" in the summer, declared the Los Angeles Times, "we don't want it at any price."
According to Lindsay,
A proposal to once again inundate the Salton Trough, by diverting the entire flow of the Colorado River, was made in 1873 by Dr. JP Widney. His scheme was named the "Widney Sea." His proposal lead to a lively discussion in Los Angeles newspapers until Gen. George Stoneman proved the impracticality of such a proposal.
Widney and Atlantis
In his 1935 book, The Three Americas
, Widney argued that the fabled lost city of Atlantis
once existed in the area where the Bahamas
are now located. He believed that Atlantis was a large semi-tropical
island ("larger than Libya
and Asia - [Asia Minor
, now Anatolia
]"), stretching west of Gibraltar
and east of the West Indies
, inhabited by peoples from the Americas rather than from Europe. He believed that the Sargasso Sea
now covers part of the now submerged Atlantis. He argued that Atlantis was built up originally from the soil washed into the ocean from Africa and South America, and that it eventually subsided because "in the course of the ages the time came when the fissure in the earth's crust could no longer sustain the weight, and Atltantis went down". He also believed that there was a submerged lost continent in the South Pacific Ocean.
Widney as author
In 1872, Widney helped to found the Los Angeles Library Association, and served on its board of governors for the next six years.
Along with Jonathan T. Warner (1807-1895) (better known as J.J. Warner) and Judge Benjamin Hayes (1815-1877), Widney wrote and edited the first history of Los Angeles County, the so-called Centennial History of Los Angeles, published in 1876. In 1888, he collaborated with Dr. Walter Lindley (1852-1922), the founder of the California Hospital Medical Center, in producing California of the South, one of the first tourist guides promoting the region. Both of these volumes were produced to extol the benefits of California and its climate. They were commercially available and were popular.
Also from Widney's prolific pen came many books, pamphlets, and magazine and newspaper articles upon various topics - industrial, racial, scientific, climatic, professional, historical, political, educational, national, international, and religious. He discussed such topics as the League of Nations and its shortcomings; judicial reform (he advocated trials by judges rather than juries for criminal cases); and the future of modern civilzations. With the exception of his two-volume magnum opus, The Race Life of the Aryan People, published in 1907 by Funk and Wagnall, Widney chose to have all his other writings published at his own expense and donated to influential people, personal friends, and libraries and other public reading rooms to ensure maximum availability of his ideas.
Widney revealed in his Civilizations and Their Diseases (1937),
I have never written for money. The sole object has been the carving out of broader lines for the human race. For more than fifty years of careful historical study, I have thought, and planned, and worked to this end. This ultimate purpose has run through all my publications. I have not placed upon the public market the books which I have written. I had not the time for this in an overworked life, nor have I had the means. My works have been placed, instead, in the great public reading rooms, and libraries, and colleges and universities of the world, where they might find the largest number of readers. This has drained heavily upon my private resources, so much so that I must still go on in the same old way. It is my contribution to the uplift of humanity and the making of a better world, and with this I am content-. I am near to the beginning of my ninety-seventh year. Owing to injuries received in an accident, I have had to do all my work under the heavy handicap of being crippled, and in blindness, and in pain. Every word that I have published, for many years, I have had to dictate. What this means in patience, in difficulty, in labor, only one who has gone through it can know.
Widney as real estate investor
Widney had been impressed with the potential of Los Angeles since his first visit there in January 1867 when posted to Drum Barracks. He apparently said to himself then: "There will be a harbor made here, and a great city will be built about it. I will put some money here when I come back from the front". Widney was the brother of lawyer (and later Judge) Robert Maclay Widney
(1838-1929), the city's first real estate agent and publisher of The Real Estate Advertiser
, the city's first real estate paper, who had settled in Los Angeles earlier in 1868. Widney made many lucrative investments in real estate in Los Angeles and surrounding areas (often in collaboration with Judge Widney), which were to make him financially independent, allowing him to retire from the practise of medicine at the age of 55, and allowing him to devote the following 42 years to his business, literary, and religious pursuits. By 1900, the Los Angeles Times
described him as "an extensive property owner in this city". At one time he owned the Widney Block on First Street (near the corner of Temple and Spring Streets), another Widney Block located at Sixth and Broadway, and a property at the corner of Ninth and Santee streets, where he erected the Nazarene Methodist Episcopal Church. Additionally, he owned a building at 445-447 Aliso Street, where the first college of medicine for the University of Southern California was located from 1885 to 1896.
Widney's speculation in land started early. Between 29 April 1869 and 28 August 1871, he purchased thirty-four lots in Wilmington near the San Pedro harbor area and another sixty acres near the San Gabriel Mission (Rand 28). He once owned the parcel of land (the old Temple block at the corner of Temple and Main Streets, Los Angeles) where the Los Angeles City Hall now stands, as well as most of Mt. Washington, Los Angeles, California, on which his last home (a Victorian mansion at 3901 Marmion Way) stood. This section included a group of neighboring homes and stores, as well as a rooming apartment for girls.
During the Los Angeles real estate boom that commenced about 1885, Dr Widney purchased of land (located northeast of Los Angeles) comprising the relatively undeveloped township of Hesperia, California
. Soon after, Widney formed the Hesperia Land and Water Company for the purpose of creating a town. Hesperia was advertised as either the "New York, Chicago" and Denver of the West". This was one of the more controversial real estate ventures associated with Widney. It was known pejoratively as Widneyville-by-the-Desert. Major Horace Bell, in his On the Old West Coast
, a personal reflection on that period, critiqued the boomers, including the developers of Widneyville:
From 1856 on to and through the great real estate boom which began in 1885 and lasted three years, the banner of organized rascality floated over the municipal hall of Los Angeles and its rulers were banded together in a speculative conspiracy against all that was honest. The city began to increase its rate of growth about 1875, but it was still a slow movement until the boom struck in '85. This boom was one of the crimes of the age. Only a few people profited by it while hundreds of thousands were trapped into insane purchase of property and crazy speculation, and finally ruined....I will give a few instances of the wildcatting during those memorable years. All the land from Redondo-by-the-Sea to Widneyville-by-the-Desert they cut up into town lots. They built cement sidewalks for miles into the desert vastness. From the trains they herded them into wagons, tally-hos or stages and hauled them to the heart of the proposed new "city." Here a vast array of refreshment tables would be set up in serried ranks, covered with cold lunch, while barrels of beer, whiskey and wine would be tapped to the blare of the band. All free of course, and most stimulating when the hour arrived for bidding in lots. Lots selling on those feast days for thousands of dollars apiece were afterward assessed for taxation at two dollars a lot and many of them reverted to the tax collector. My goodness, the colleges they proposed and sometimes actually built! A college for at least every thousand acres. The college seemed to be a big selling point. And hotels! Magnificent structures were actually erected that never held a guest after opening day and were later dedicated to the insurance companies by the fire route. "Widneyville-by-the-Desert" was a prize exhibit of those days. The promoters referred to it as "the modern Elysium", I believe, or some such high-toned Greek brag. A tremendous excursion was organized to conduct the speculative hordes to the site of the proposed ideal city on the opening day. A natural and to the Eastern tenderfoot a rather appalling growth of cactus and yucca palms, commonly called Joshua trees, covered the desert hereabouts. These spiny, writhing Joshua trees are really a horrific sight if you are not used to them, but the promoters of Widneyville had a bright idea that saved them the expense of clearing the growth off. They did a little judicious trimming on the cactus plants and yuccas, shaping them up into a certain uniformity, then shipped out a carload of cheap wind-fall oranges and on the end of each bayonet-like spike on the yuccas and on each cactus spine they impaled an orange. Suddenly the desert fruited like the orange grove! Down the lines of the proposed streets staked out in the desert, and around the great square outlined by the surveyors, crowded innumerable orange trees loaded with their golden harvest. The Easterners stood agape at the Elysian sight, hardly listening to the salesmen as they described the college, the several churches, the great sanitarium and the magnificent hotel--temperance hotel--that would so soon surround the central plaza of Widneyville.
"Here, you see, ladies and gentlemen, is the natural home of the orange", said the conductor of the excursion as he addressed the assembled multitude. "These beautiful trees, so prolific of fruit, are a natural growth. This is the only spot west of the Rocky Mountains where the orange is indigenous. In a little while we will have irrigation canals all over the tract and when these orange trees are irrigated their fruit will grow as big as pumpkins. There'll be a fortune in every block, ladies and gentlemen." Blocks and blocks were sold from the plat of "Widneyville-by-the-Desert", at boom prices but no house was built on the actual site.
Widney's subdivision crews laid out what was known as the Old Townsite. In 1887, Widney began construction of the Hesperia Hotel, a three-story brick building consisting of 48 rooms and hot and cold running water, baths, and a water closet on each floor. The hotel, which took 2½ years to build, even had communication tubes between floors, thus enabling room service. An Illustrated History of Southern California (1890) described Hesperia:
Hesperia is a small town in the Hesperia valley, on the main line of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway, about twenty-five miles north of the county seat, at an elevation of . The San Bernardino Mountains on the south and the Hesperia Mountains on the north enclose the valley, the climate is delightful and unrivaled for pulmonary, bronchial, and nasal disorders.
The Los Angeles Times
of 2 June 1887
reported that Widney had purchased a hotel and several bath houses in the town of Iron-Sulphur Springs (formerly known as Fulton Wells, and known today as Santa Fe Springs
), fifteen miles (24 km) east of downtown Los Angeles. This area was originally part of the Rancho Santa Gertrudes. The hotel (located on the north side of Telegraph Road, two blocks east of the intersection of Telegraph Road and Norwalk Boulevard) had been constructed in 1873 by Dr J.E. Fulton, and designated as the Fulton Sulphar Springs and Health Resort. In 1886 the springs were purchased by the Santa Fe Railroad, who renamed the town after itself. Widney planned to build a larger hotel.
Widney as progressive
Widney was future-focused and believed in progress. He was quoted as saying, "We may look lovingly back on log cabin days, but the looking back must be done over a multi-lane highway, not along a cow track". Nettie Widney, his brother Samuel's widow, indicated: "he never went back. When he made a finish of a thing, that was the last of it, and he got a new project. He lived in chapters, and closed the book". Even towards the end of his life, at a time when many his age might have been comforted by reflecting retrospectively, Dr Widney was still articulating grand plans for the development of Los Angeles after the age of 95. In 1937 he wrote "A Plan for the Development of Los Angeles as a Great World Health Center." To facilitate the development of Los Angeles, Widney proposed building a series of roads and tunnels that would transverse and pierce the Sierra Madre Mountains
, thus linking the city and the interior desert. According to Carl Rand, Widney postulated:
The whole future of the city lies within our own hands. Los Angeles Harbor (which ought to have been larger and deeper); the great Desert City which may be; and the Colorado River water system; these are the three factors which will settle the future of the City of Los Angeles. And the time to strike is now!
Widney believed his Desert City could be built at no expense to the taxpayers. He advocated the government grant the land for his proposed Desert City, with the land then sold to investors and developers. Widney proposed an automobile highway up the Arroyo Seco to link Los Angeles with the Mojave Desert, which would be funded from a tax on gasoline.
Widney as booster
Widney was a prominent booster
of Southern California and, most especially, of Los Angeles. Deverell and Flamming see him as among "a small group of extraordinarily powerful men working to consolidate and add to their power. Linked by family ties, cooperative business ventures, and carefully exclusive social and neighborhood networks, these men sat atop the booster food chain, and they knew it. Their booster project was about the consolidation of power and the expansion of what were for many already substantial fortunes". Further, Jaher identifies Dr Widney as among those successful Los Angeles entrepreneurs who were the "most avid civic boosters...[who] made sanguine by their triumphs, they expect urban growth to bring further gains...[who] predicted that the city would become a great metropolis". Widney envisioned Los Angeles "developing into the health capital of the world, a heliopolis
Widney was an active member of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce since its resurrection in October 1888, and served occasionally as its chairman or secretary. Widney's first two books were written to promote (or "boost") California. In California of the South (1888), described by David Fine as "one of the earliest booster tracts" Widney and Walter Lindley wrote: "The health-seeker who, after suffering in both mind and body, after vainly trying the cold climate of Minnesota and the warm climate of Florida, after visiting Mentone, Cannes, and Nice, after traveling to Cuba and Algiers, and noticing that he is losing ounce upon ounce of flesh, and his cheeks have grown more sunken, his appetite more capricious, his breath more hurried, that his temperature is no longer normal,... turns with a gleam of hope toward the Occident"—by which they meant Southern California. Many people followed that gleam and found it something more than hope".
Widney and public service
According to one report, Widney "was a zealous promoter, for several decades, of every public enterprise in Los Angeles". "Doctors involved in entrepreneurship or government also achieved high professional status, as measured by affiliations, medical school faculty appointments, and medical society presidencies....Medical and legal elites achieved hegemony in similar fashion. An interlocking group of physicians controlled local professional societies, schools, and hospitals". "Upper-class
culture differed from eastern patriciates in expressing stronger democratic and instrumental impulses. Here the establishment, as in the cases of Bridge and Widney, agreed with its Chicago counterpart....The foremost figures in this dimension of urban leadership were often active in several organizations and in other aspects of community hegemony
. As the institutions that they directed enlarged from specialized clientele to community audiences their control expanded over high culture. Los Angeles also resembled the other cities in that the leaders of its intellectual and esthetic agencies often derived from distinguished families. The newly risen dominated economic, political, and professional life, but culture, like charity, remained an Old Guard stronghold. Joneses, Newmarks, Hubbells, Mesmers, Widneys,...like their peers in other places, compensated for commercial and political displacement by exerting considerable influence over culture". "Joseph P. Widney, like Graves a proponent of rugged individualism, argued that New Deal
programs corrupted the American spirit".
Widney and San Pedro Harbour
Widney did much in outlining the railroad, maritime and commercial policy of Southern California. He and his brother Robert were prime examples of entrepreneurial
professionals. They proved to be "effective lobbyists for the Southern Pacific
[railroad] and for harbor improvements and were especially "active in transport enterprises and in the development of the San Pedro harbor".
As early as 1871 Widney saw the need for Los Angeles to have its own harbour, and with Phineas Banning successfully lobbied the United States Congress for funding over many years for the establishment of the harbour at San Pedro, California (now known as the Port of Los Angeles). In 1881 Widney was described in the Los Angeles Times as the "prime mover of Wilmington Harbor". He was chairman of the Los Angeles Citizens' Committee on the Wilmington Harbor. He wrote the memorials to the U.S. Congress advocating the deepening of the harbor. He also successfully opposed the attempt of the railroad interests of Collis Potter Huntington and his partners from claiming the state tidelands of the harbor for their own corporate purposes, thus ensuring these lands remained in public domain.
Widney and Southern California statehood
Widney was one of the first to discuss the feasibility of dividing the state of California and establishing the commonwealth
of Southern California
. He wrote prolifically on the subject, and was regarded as "one of the ablest and most enthusiastic advocates of the new 'California of the South'". For many years Widney advocated unsuccessfully for the division of the state of California into at least two (and later he advocated four) states, in order to maximise its representation in the U.S. Senate. He indicated in 1880 that "the topography, geography, climatic and commercial laws all work for the separation of California into two distinct civil organizations". In 1888, Widney contended that "two distinct peoples are growing up in the state, and the time is rapidly drawing near when the separation which the working of natural laws is making in the people must become a separation of civil laws as well".
Widney's mature views on the division of the state of California were:
I issued a call for the meeting which was attended by representatives of various Southern California counties, and the records of this session of two or three days are still in my possession. A committee of distinguished attorneys was appointed, and this committee reported that the State, at the time of its admission, was already practically divided, for provision was then made that, whenever the people wished it, a division of the State into two parts could be made. Notwithstanding, however, it was so provided, that no vote need be taken upon the issue, the convention decided that our movement was premature- the time was not ripe for the step. I think that the postponement was a great mistake, and I am still in favor of such a subdivision, and into four parts, according to the harbors available: (1) Southern California, which would have Los Angeles Harbor and San Diego Harbor; (2) Point Harford at San Luis Obispo (a cut through the mountains bringing the lower San Joaquin Valley to the ocean); (3) North Central California, with San Francisco Bay, and that city as the capital; and (4) another division, centering around Eureka or on Humboldt Bay. That my views are sound was confirmed by a conversation with an eminent senator from the East, who expressed the opinion that Californians, with a coast line of more than eight hundred miles, and yet allowed only two senatorial votes (or no more than are given to little Rhode Island), are very foolish in not insisting upon a redivision, and, therefore, a new and better representation. Such a division into four parts, as I proposed in the February, 1881, issue of The Californian, would give us eight senatorial votes; and this division will surely come-only just wait!
Widney is credited as the one who originated and made the first public movement looking toward the acquisition of the peninsula of Lower California
by the United States. Additionally, he proposed in an article published in 1932 that "Europe should simply be bought out of the Western Hemisphere
," with the European nations ceding their territories in Central and South America and the West Indies
to the United States to cancel their debts to the American people. Such an action would give the British colonies of Belize
, and British Guiana
), the French colony of French Guiana
, and the Dutch colony of Dutch Guiana
) to the USA, thus expanding her empire by . Further, he believed that the Gulf of Mexico
and the Caribbean Sea
ought to be "American seas" and that "the power that controls the American interoceanic canals must be an American power, and among the American nationalities none but ourselves has the strength to do this work, and to enforce the peace."
Widney and Anglo-Saxon federation
In his book The Three Americas
(1935), Widney suggested that the United States
, the United Kingdom
, New Zealand
, and South Africa
form an Anglo-Saxon federation
with freedom of migration and a common citizenship
Widney and Prohibition
While Widney was Republican in general politics, he was "an earnest worker in the cause of temperance". In an 1886 Los Angeles Times op-ed
piece Widney suggested that the liquor question
- the restriction of its manufacture and sale - should not only become the subject of a Republican party platform plank but should be the issue around which the party rebuilt itself. He had been greatly interested in the progress of prohibition. He served as head of the city's nonpartisan anti-saloon league, but declined to run for mayor of Los Angeles on the Prohibition ticket in 1894.
Widney and education
Widney is regarded as "the outstanding early educator of Los Angeles".
Widney and the University of Southern California (1880-1896)
Widney was involved in the University of Southern California from its very conception in 1879. He served as a member of the Board of Trustees of USC from 1880 to 1895. As such he was responsible (along with the other trustees), for USC's policy of implementing a non-discriminatory admissions policy. Carter reveals, "USC's first student body, the class of 1884, was made up of seven students and two of them were women. That's not a bad record, considering the fact that many other private universities such as Yale did not begin admitting women until almost 90 years later". In addition to being a member of USC's governing body, Widney was also for several years Professor of English Literature at the College of Liberal Arts at USC, until, with the establishment of the College of Medicine, he was compelled by lack of time to concentrate his labors in the latter.
Widney as Dean of USC College of Medicine (1885-1896)
Widney was the person most responsible for the creation of the USC College of Medicine in 1885 at the beginning of a three-year "boom" cycle in Los Angeles real estate. He was elected as its founding dean, a responsibility he accepted for the next eleven years until his resignation on 22 September 1896
. According to Michael Carter, "the University Catalogue for the academic year 1884-85 declared that applicants to the medical school, as to the rest of USC, would not be denied admission because of 'race, color, religion or sex.'"
The USC College of Medicine held classes for its first ten years rent-free in a two-story brick building (originally housing the Vache Freres Winery) located at 445 Aliso Street owned by Widney. Widney donated a large sum to establish the College of Medicine, including donating the property where it was initially located, made frequent large contributions afterwards, and arranged to give a larger amount in providing new and more commodious college buildings for permanent occupancy. He attracted a strong faculty to the Medical School, which he headed, and kept that arm of the university solvent by the simple expedient of paying the bills himself. He was responsible for the development of the curriculum, choosing to offer a three-year (later four-year) course of study in keeping with then-recent developments at prestigious medical schools in the eastern U.S.
Widney as President of USC (1892-1896)
After the death of USC founding president the Reverend Marion McKinley Bovard
on 30 December 1891
, the Board of Trustees elected Widney as the next president. Widney was reluctant to accept this responsibility, but after he "recognized a call of the Lord", he accepted the presidency at a difficult time in the history of the embryonic institution. At that time USC had only twenty-five undergraduate students, and its focus was on providing secondary education. According to E.T.W., "Everything was in confusion; they were in the midst of the bank crash of '93, and no one knew what property the university had, or what it was worth. The professors had not been paid for months, and relief was not to be had through the banks, which withdrew credit":
With finances in a precarious state and the administrative system almost completely shattered by his death, the University of Southern California faced the great crisis of its existence. It was a physician who proved to be the man of the hour to heal the university of these blows. Under the vigorous and cheerful leadership of Dr. J. P. Widney, a brother of the founder, the drooping spirits of faculty and students were revived".
The College of Liberal Arts was then eighteen thousand dollars in debt. Widney's first step was to set up a separate governing board for the College of Liberal Arts, both as a means of refinancing the debt and of tying that branch of the institution more closely to the spiritual leaders of California Methodism. Widney himself went out on the streets and raised $15,000, giving his own personal security to back up the loans, thus saving USC from bankruptcy. The Southern California Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church increased its support for USC in 1893. The Conference "enthusiastically adopted Widney's new financial program for the institution. Two of the church's most distinguished and trusted leaders [Widney and Phineas F. Bresee] were at the helm. By the time of the annual conference of 1894, the university had passed through its financial crisis, and Widney's principal work was done". In the spring of 1895, Widney decided to resign after "four years of intensive unremunerated service to the university as its president". He announced his intention to spend a year studying in the East. The board finally accepted the resignation, after their benefactor had turned aside repeated requests that he reconsider his decision.
Widney's philosophy of education
Jaher indicates that
Shortly after retiring as USC President, he [Widney] articulated a philosophy of education that emphasized democracy over elitism, pragmatism over scholarship, the present over the past, the California college over the eastern and European university, and the Pacific over the Atlantic Coast. Easterners schooled in that region and Europe "lose their originality," relevance, and force. They "go out from this atmosphere of a narrow overrefinement" looking "to the past." But those they "superciliously" regard "as crude and unlettered, men possibly without the university stamp are the men the world instinctively seeks out, and who do its work." According to Widney, "the distinctively American mental life is to be found west of the Appalachians, in the memory of the log schoolhouse and the smaller colleges".
Widney and the Los Angeles Board of Education
In addition to his responsibilities at USC, Widney served several years as a member and president of the Los Angeles Board of Education.
In October 1894 at the dedication of the Peniel Hall, Widney announced his intention to organize a Training Institute, in which Bible and practical nursing were to be the principal studies.
Widney and religion
Widney and the Methodist Episcopal Church (1841-1895)
Widney had been raised in the Greene Street Methodist Episcopal Church
in Piqua, Ohio
, where his father, Wilson Widney, was a steward. His mother's brother, Robert Samuel Maclay
(7 February 1824 - 18 August 19070, was the first Methodist missionary to China
, as well as the pioneer Methodist missionary to Japan
Widney was an active lay leader in the Methodist Episcopal church in Los Angeles. He was a member of Los Angeles First Methodist Episcopal Church (originally located at the corner of Fort Street (now South Broadway) and West Third streets, and from 1899 at the corner of South Hill Street and West Sixth Street), and was close friends with one-time pastor, Rev. Phineas F. Bresee. The Widneys were the mainstays of the "District Aid Committee," an organization devoted to securing better support for underpaid pastors. Dr. and Mrs. Widney and his sister, Arabella, had long been active in the evangelistic endeavors which Methodists carried on among the poor and unfortunate. The two women pioneered the organization of deaconess work in southern California in 1889. Bresee and Widney were members of the first executive board. The only question Methodists ever raised against Widney came in 1892, when he employed a critical approach to the Scriptures in a series of articles aimed to rebuke an extreme doctrine of divine healing.
According to noted historian Timothy L. Smith,
all records agree that Widney was an honored citizen of both the city and the church he loved. But, like Bresee, his abiding passion in recent years had been the evangelization of the poor and the extension of the ministry of scriptural holiness to classes which the church might otherwise miss. Few were surprised, therefore, when he joined the group which was sponsoring Peniel Hall. ... [T]his work soon became more important in Widney's eyes than the presidency of the infant university which he had so recently and so nobly served.
Widney was instrumental in the support and enlargement of the Los Angeles City Mission (later referred to as the Peniel Mission), especially from October 1894 when the 900-seat Peniel Hall located at 227 S. Main Street in Los Angeles was dedicated. The Peniel Mission, founded in 1886 (as the Los Angeles Mission) by Theodore Pollock Ferguson and Manie Payne Ferguson (born Carlow, Ireland, 1850; died 1932), was undenominational and nonsectarian. "Their entire work, like that of most of the city holiness missions, was oriented toward soul saving and the promotion of holiness". Despite Widney's active involvement in the Peniel Mission, there was no thought to resigning from the Methodist church. According to Frankiel, "The mission was not a church...; converts were supposed to join one of the regular denominations. It was, rather, a holiness revival station spreading the message of Christian perfection".
According to Smith, "all the available evidence indicates that neither Bresee nor Widney was contemplating any change in his relationship with Peniel Mission or with the Methodist church". However, by early October 1895, Widney and Bresee were "frozen out" of the Peniel Mission. According to Smith,
[t]he immediate cause for the organization of the Church of the Nazarene ... is not so much to be found in Bresee's differences with the Methodists as in those which developed between him and the proprietors of Peniel Hall. Certainly J. P. Widney must have been disillusioned when A. B. Simpson, leader of the Christian and Missionary Alliance and reportedly an extremist on divine healing, appeared as a special worker at the mission in May . Bresee on his part disagreed with Mr. and Mrs. Fergusons' insistence upon the use of young women in rescue work, and their growing interest in foreign missionary schemes.
Widney and the Church of the Nazarene (1895-1898)
Formation of the Church of the Nazarene
During the summer of 1895, Widney had changed his plans to study for a year in the East and had remained in Los Angeles. With characteristic decisiveness, Bresee and Widney determined to form a new organization in which their program of a church home for the poor might be fully carried out. They announced a service for Sunday, 6 October 1895
, in Red Men's Hall located at 317 S. Main Street in Los Angeles, a short distance from the Peniel Mission. A Los Angeles Times
reporter gave us the only extant firsthand account of this meeting. The leaders, he wrote, "announced that although no name had been decided upon for the new denomination, its work was to be chiefly evangelistic and its government congregational". Bresee declared that the only thing new in the movement was its determination to preach the gospel to the needy, and to give that class a church they could call their own.
After three weeks of independent meetings in the Red Men's Hall, on 30 October 1895, Bresee and Widney formally organised the Church of the Nazarene, the west coast ancestor of the denomination that now bears that name, with 82 charter members.
While several distinguished Methodists joined, most of the membership, was made up of recent converts from the poorer sections of Los Angeles. On the day of organization Widney preached on the words of Christ, "Follow me." Widney "pointed out that the essence of Christianity was not to receive a creed or to observe church forms and rituals, but simply to accept the Christ life, to make Christ himself the Lord of one's heart. After an interesting reference to the novelist Tolstoy's recent decision to abandon his high position and go to serve the peasants of a Russian village, Widney attempted to explain why a new denomination was required. The reason, he said, was that the machinery and the methods of the older churches had proved a hindrance to the work of evangelizing the poor".
Naming of the Church of the Nazarene
Widney was responsible for suggesting the name of the infant denomination. Smith explains:
The word "Nazarene" had come to him one morning at daybreak, after a whole night of prayer. It immediately seemed to him to symbolize "the toiling, lowly mission of Christ." It was the name which Jesus used of himself, Widney declared, "the name which was used in derision of Him by His enemies", the name which above all others linked Him to "the great toiling, struggling, sorrowing heart of the world. It is Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth, to whom the world in its misery and despair turns, that it may have hope.
At the outset Widney and Bresee saw this church as
"the first of a denomination that preached the reality of entire sanctification received through faith in Christ. They held that Christians sanctified by faith should follow Christ's example and preach the gospel to the poor. They felt called especially to this work. They believed that unnecessary elegance and adornment of houses of worship did not represent the spirit of Christ but the spirit of the world, and that their expenditures of time and money should be given to Christlike ministries for the salvation of souls and the relief of the needy. They organized the church accordingly. They adopted general rules, a statement of belief, a polity based on a limited superintendency, procedures for the consecration of deaconesses and the ordination of elders, and a ritual. These were published as a Manual beginning in 1898. They published a paper known as The Nazarene and then The Nazarene Messenger."
Among the first to be ordained by the new church was Joseph P. Widney. Bresee and Widney were appointed to life tenure as pastors and superintendents in the infant denomination, but their power was "more personal than legal".
In October 1898, Bresee and Widney both resigned as superintendents due to an increased consensus that life tenure was not in the best interests of the church. The delegates from the various churches voted to accept the resignation of Widney and Bresee from their lifetime tenure, and to limit the term of office for general superintendents to one year. They were subsequently re-elected to an annual term.
However, soon afterward (in late 1898), Widney resigned from the Church of the Nazarene. Apparently, the growing frequency of services of great emotional power at the tabernacle became at last too much for him. Smith reports, "It happened that one night, after a great "outpouring of the Spirit," some of the most prominent members of the church went to the altar. Several were overcome completely, and a good deal of noise and confusion resulted. Widney, a quiet-mannered man, decided that he could not be happy any longer amidst such scenes". According to Smith, "there is no evidence at all of any hard feelings between Bresee and Widney. Their parting was most friendly". Additionally, according to Frankiel, there were theological differences between Widney and the Church of the Nazarene. Widney "believed in gradual spiritual growth rather than an identifiable experience of [entire] sanctification".
Widney and the Methodist Episcopal Church (1899-1911)
Widney returned to the Methodist church as a minister and was appointed to the church's City Mission of Los Angeles (formally organized in 1908), where he ministered to thousands over the next several years.
In 1899 the Southern California Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church accepted his credentials. He was appointed the superintendent of the city missionary work of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles, and was also listed as the pastor of the Nazarene Methodist Episcopal Church, which met initially in Widney's home at 150 W. Adams Street. Growth of the congregation necessitated the construction of a 500-seat building at Ninth and Santee Streets on a property owned by Widney. Widney met the entire costs of construction and ministered without compensation. The new building was dedicated on Sunday, 3 June 1900. The new facility incorporated on the ground floor a free reading room, a bath house for men to use, and two stores.
In 1903 this church was renamed the Beth-El Methodist Episcopal Church due to increased confusion with the rapidly growing Church of the Nazarene led by Phineas F. Bresee. The congregation was soon to be relocated to a new property purchased by Widney at the corner of Pasadena Avenue and Avenue 39 (now 3901 Marmion Way, Highland Park), as the Ninth and Santee Streets location was not successful in attracting non-churchgoers. The original property was converted into a rooming house. Widney eventually resigned from the Methodist Episcopal church in 1911.
Widney and the Church of the All-Father (1907-1938)
In 1907 Widney started construction of the Beth-El Chapel (sometimes known as the Beth-El Mission or the Church of the All-Father) on a property he purchased at the corner of Pasadena Avenue and Avenue 39 (now 3901 Marmion Way, Highland Park
). He built his own home next to the new chapel. He called it Beth-El ("House of God"), and dedicated it to the "All-Father." Widney indicated in a 1924 interview published in the Los Angeles Times
that "Beth-El was built as a neighborhood place of worship....in a growing section of the city, where the benefits of a church were sadly lacking". The chapel seated 100 people, and had an adjoining Sunday School room for 30 children. Beth-El was essentially a private chapel, which he funded entirely from his personal wealth. No offerings were collected at the services, and no financial assistance was ever received.
The focus of Widney's Church of the All-Father was deliberately nonsectarian, attracting attendees from several denominations. Widney indicated in the same 1924 interview:
We have in our attendance members from all denominations. We have them come here from all churches. We do not urge their attendance. We do not seek to increase our membership. Anybody who is doing the best they can to lead a clean life and if they believe in keeping peace and harmony with their neighbors those persons are eligible to attend Beth-el. Even if Mohammed lived up to these ideals, he could join this chapel.
In a pamphlet entitled "All-Father", written in 1933, given to those who attended his Church of the All-Father, Widney wrote:
To all, of whatsover Race, or Faith, or Kin, who are striving to live the righteous life, to serve God, and to help in the uplift of humanity- Greeting and Fellowship! . . . Christianity must give up the thought that it has a spiritual monopoly of the Way of Life. It must recognize the fact that all religions are true, in so far as they have the truth in them - and false, in so far as they contain error: and it must recognize the fact that Christianity is no exception to the rule. This is the work that the Church of the All-Father is trying to do. It is the reason for its existence. Its sole test of membership is this: "Are you, with the light you have, doing the best you can to live a righteous life, to serve God, and to help in the uplift of humanity? Beyond this, your Creed is your own. Settle that with God as an individual soul. The Church of the All-Father claims no especial right, no especial light. It is simply trying to help in the rebuilding of a better world. It asks and seeks fellowship with those who are like-minded, for the rebuilding of a broken civilization.
Widney advocated: "Man's religions must discard the impedimenta of wornout creeds and ecclesiastical forms, or else themselves be discarded. ... Abstruse creeds must go. Ecclesiastical shackles must be cast off. It [Christianity] must present to the world an understandable Faith, Church forms and rituals that are simple, a front not broken by the wrangling of sects: a Faith so simple and a Way of Life so plain.... Not until this is done can Christianity do its best work for the world" (All-Father, 2-3). According to Frankiel, "his attempt to unite all religions around faith in the "All-Father" was also a return to what he saw as his own root in the American West, via the desert; to the roots of Western culture; and to the roots of humanity in a primitive sense of nature and life". In his poem "Brother" published in the 1933 "All-Father" pamphlet, Widney expresses his religious beliefs:
Why should we mingle in strife?
Why should we hate or quarrel?
Why should the ways be parted?
And the pathways trodden asunder?
The end is the same for all.
One may be weak by the way:
And one may be faint for the battle:
And one may be feeble and halted:
And one may fall by the wayside:
But the pathways lead ever the same.
And one is the heaven before us:
And one is the kindly All-Father:
And one are the heart-beats that seek Him:
And one is the love for His children:
And one is the Face they look to,
The Face of the God of All.
We may call Him Allah, or Buddh:
We may call Him Zeus, or Theos:
We may call Him Gott, or Dios:
Or Jehovah, or Lord, or Deus:
Or only the Red man's Great Spirit:
Or the heart lift to One that is nameless:
But He - He is God of All.
And what is the measure of Him?
He is big as the eyes that seek Him:
He is big as the mind that seeks Him:
He is big as the soul that knows Him:
Not God, but man must grow.
Believing that Sunday should be a day of rest, and that "those who spend all of their Sundays in churches are guilty of breaking the commandments", Beth-El had only one service each Sunday - a morning service. Dr. Widney conducted the Sunday services there for thirty-six years, while one of his younger brothers, Rev. Samuel A. Widney, led the Sunday School and served later as co-pastor. Dr Widney played the violin during the services, while his brother Samuel played the violoncello, and Samuel's wife, Anna, played the organ.
Widney was regarded as "rather liberal in his religious views" because "He holds no respect for ministers of the gospel who continually seek publicity, who dabble in politics and are always raising a rumpus. Nor does he believe in fads or freak religion. He simply teaches the old-time Bible religion.
In conjunction with its worship activities, Widney established the Beth-el Academy and Home for Girls nearby.
Origins of Widney's religious beliefs
Widney was profoundly affected by an experience that he described retrospectively as focal for his religious life. Neither a conversion nor a sanctification, neither a healing by the Divine Mind nor a floating on the Infinite, it was nevertheless peculiarly Californian in the independent style that Widney had adopted. Afterward Widney claimed it was his revelation of God. While an army surgeon during the Arizona Indian wars, he rode out one day into the northern desert and stayed alone much of the day. In the "utter hush" of the desert noon, he recalled,
as I sat looking out over the brown, dry plain to the simple outline of the far-off mountains, a strange sense of a new life seemed to come to me. I somehow seemed, as with a new-born perception, to awake to a sense of life about me: intangible, unseen, but Life. . . . I seemed somehow to have stepped out of the old, narrow bounds and bonds of the flesh, and to stand within the portals of a new and broader existence. . . . I had found the desert—and God.
Afterward Widney was never the same. He saw modern urban civilization as the true desert, while knowing that the desert itself — to which he never returned — was life. Often in his later works he referred to the God of the desert and of "the Open," identifying his experience and his faith with that of the ancient Semites from which Judaism later sprang, and with the religion of primitive man generally.""From the time of his transformative experience in the desert, he increasingly rejected dogmatism in anything. Unlike some of his fellows, he was not a likely candidate for any single system of thought; but like the other metaphysicians of southern California, Widney forged a California theology of his own". In Genesis, he argued that the desert breeds monotheism, while the diversity of the plains and the coast breeds polytheism.
Widney's evolving religious beliefs
In his book The Genesis and Evolution of Islam and Judaeo-Christianity
, published in 1932, Widney explained
The central thought of the work is The evolution of one general world-faith out of many, and too often hostile, racial religions of mankind. The world was once civically racial. It is so no longer. The economic laws of commerce have welded it together as one. It was once politically discordant. It is now, more and more, tending to one type of government Race lines are fading away. Shall the religions of men alone stand aloof from the working of this broad law of unification; or shall they, too, find a common ground upon which all may meet? Is the spiritual side of man's being less able to adapt itself to growth than his material nature? Every race upon earth has contributed, and is now contributing to the material upbuilding of man. Some give more. Some give less. But all give; and with the gradual fading of racial lines, this law of unification should work to the same end with man's religions. What can each give? From the Hymns to the Maruts of old-time Aryans the freshness of the morning: from Brahmanism, hoary with age, the stored wisdom of centuries: from Buddhism, the weariness of life but withal the undying longings: from the faith of Zarathustra the unending battle of light and darkness in the human soul: from the Islam of the Desert Peoples the Allah il Allah of the great wastes, and the night wind, and the stars : from the Jew a code of laws which has made the race of Sinai imperishable: from Christianity The Gospel of Love: from modern civilization the duty and the task of blending these into one, the religion of Humanity.
Widney was also influenced by the teachings of accused heretical preacher David Swing and Thomas Starr King, a broad-minded, religiously inclusive Unitarian minister, whose "style of liberalism was laced with a Transcendental mysticism and a grounding in love of nature... [who] laid a foundation for liberal Christianity in California tradition"; Widney described King as "as one of the few great and broad-minded spirits of the church" (Frankiel, p30.) According to Widney, these two felt "called upon to step over the ecclesiastical lines which we have drawn about the simple, kindly, trusting life and teachings of Him we call Jesus of Nazareth" (Three Americas, 65).
Sandra Frankiel considers Widney to be "a dramatic example of a midwestern Protestant who turned away from church and creed toward an independent religious system that had some affinities with New Thought" (Frankiel 97). "Widney seems not to have been attracted to the mind-cure traditions; as a physician, he upheld the value of physical care and natural cures. With his interest in many religions, he may have been attracted to Theosophy, but with his firm grounding in Christianity, he wanted to remain true to Western traditions. He was striving to be an independent thinker in religion. Despite his criticism of so-called "faith cures" in an 1886 article, in which he denied that healing was a sign of true Christianity, "he was very much interested in health issues and wrote in cooperation with other authors ... about the healthful geography, climate, and natural advantages of the Los Angeles area" (Frankiel) in such books as California of the South: Its Physical Geography, Climate, Resources, Routes of Travel, and Health-Resorts Being a Complete Guide-Book to Southern California (1888; reprinted 1896) (Frankiel 99).
Widney, "with his grand aspirations to be a universalistic thinker, embraced the general truths of all faiths; yet he validated his stance in a way closer to his Methodist and holiness predilections, through personal mystical experience. Consistent with that position, he urged all to become 'seers'" (Frankiel 101). Especially in religion, Widney believed that all could be united. Widney argued that "the exclusivism of Christianity had blinded us to other forms of revelation, such as had come to Socrates, Confucius, or Gautama the Buddha. He suspected that Jesus and Paul had been influenced by non-western wisdom themselves" (Frankiel). For Widney, "the event of Calvary was not the central fact in the divine plan of the universe, but merely a passing episode, however dramatic, affecting one portion of human history. Now the traditional Christian creeds and the older churches were dying away. The "Teuto-Aryan", he said, was letting doctrinal controversies pass by, "while he turns more and more to the kindly life of the Christ who walked the troubled earth as the helpful Brother of Man." Jesus, in short, was not the ultimate Savior, but our "Mystical Elder Brother." He was one of those "men with a Message" who appear in various places and epochs with news from the beyond. We cannot say definitely who Jesus was, nor can we say any more about God than that he is "the One Great Central Life-Force of all", the one who has said "I AM." We would do better to drop our creeds and theologies and turn to a different kind of religion" (Frankiel).
As Sandra Frankiel summarises,
Widney's new religion would recognize that all religions are essentially one. Its basic principles included a positive view of human nature: "more of the self-respecting manhood of one made in the divine image; less of that old monkish idea of an utter and unworthy self-abasement which dishonors God in dishonoring His handiwork." It recognized that heaven and hell are "essentially conditions", that "man makes his own heaven and hell." This view provided a foundation for basic ethical principles such as justice and love, and a few basic beliefs that Widney assumed all religions already had: belief in God; in sin, repentance, and forgiveness; in a life beyond the grave with just rewards for all; and in the common brotherhood of man. All existing religions should strive to peer beyond their myths and images "to the calm, clear face of the All-Father himself." (Frankiel)
In advocating the unity of all religions, in viewing Jesus as human yet mystically in tune with higher forces, in understanding God as the great Life-Force, and in relativizing the concepts of heaven and hell, Widney sounded much like a New Thought philosopher. Yet he held onto the "All-Fatherhood" of God and traditional Protestant concepts of sin, repentance, and forgiveness. He did not mean something entirely traditional by these, but neither did he hold that humans are already essentially divine. (Frankiel)
Widney as racial theorist
"Widney, another migrant who came for his health, made explicit the Anglo-Saxon racism implicit in the Southern California Mediterranean vision". David Fine describes Widney as a "racist ideologue" when he reveals that a central character in Oil!
a 1927 novel written by Upton Sinclair
is based on Widney: "Founded by a Methodist minister and oil baron (an allusion to the racist ideologue and minister JP Widney), USC is represented as a bastion of reactionary politics". (This book was made as the Academy Award-winning movie There Will Be Blood
, released on 26 December 2007.) "Many prominent southern California boosters and supporters of the Landmarks Club such as Joseph Widney ... and Harrison Gray Otis
(owner of the Los Angeles Times
and famous union-buster) championed the restoration of the Catholic missions and the rights of Native Americans and also believed that southern California was destined to become the capital of New World Anglo-Aryan culture". These seemingly incongruous causes and beliefs were linked by a common interest in southern California's developing regionalism, strong antimodernism, and eugenic theories about the influence of climate on race. Writers such as Widney promoted the idea that after centuries of westward movement, Anglo-Aryan peoples had finally fulfilled their destiny by arriving at California's Southland.
Mike Davis describes Widney as "an ardent Aryanist" (who "called upon Los Angeles' captains of industry to become "the first Captains in the race war". "Racial-selectionist ideology, of course, was in perfect resonance with open shop philosophy, and it was no accident, as Lily Kay has pointed out, that Los Angeles in the 1920s was the world capital of the eugenics movement. "The grip of conservative Republican politics and its nativist fervor juxtaposed against rising social disorder fostered in Southern California an extreme form of negative eugenics". As Davis explains:
[T]he real vogue in Chamber of Commerce circles was 'positive eugenics' or 'euthenics': the purported science of promoting the reproduction of superior human stock. Just as local citrus growers grafted from only the most fertile fruit-bearing trees, so did Los Angeles' business leaders hope to graft only the most loyal and efficient 'American qualities' onto their workforce ... Southern California, in other words, was a Mediterranean land without any pesty Mediterranean immigrants to cause discontent. This good fortune, however, could be preserved only through vigilant weeding and pruning in the garden.
According to Frankiel, Widney "claimed that a distant forebear of his, from the late Middle Ages, was Jewish; and he spoke out against anti-Semitism and for the Jew (though in a rather condescending way)".
Widney and the Hispanic population
Widney lamented the erosion in numbers, influence, and power of the original Hispanic
(generally referred to as "Mexican") population of California. Widney observed, "you could visit the hospitals and almshouses in the late 'eighties and look in vain for the Mexican or the Spaniard." "'Death and Emigration,' wrote J. P. Widney in 1886, 'are removing them from the land. . . they no longer have unnumbered horses to ride and vast herds of sheep, from which one for a meal would never be missed. Their broad acres now, with few exceptions, belong to the acquisitive American . . . grinding poverty has bred recklessness and moroseness. Simple healthful amusements have in many instances given way to midnight carousals; long-continued dissipation and want are huddling them together in the most unwholesome localities in the towns'". Widney "shrewdly observed, [what had happened] was that the 'old life' — that is, the old Mexican life of the province — had retreated southward 'along the coastal plains that reach from Los Angeles to Acapulco
.' Retreating before the Anglo invasion, the old life had never wholly vanished. 'Whether they will or not,' wrote Widney, 'their future [that is, the future of the two groups] is one and together, and I think neither type of race life will destroy the other. They will merge. The tropic plains will help in the merging. Out of it will come a type, not of the north, not of the south, but the American of the semitropics'".
Widney and Anti-Chinese sentiment
sentiment in Los Angeles was not linked directly to the number of Chinese present in the city. The infamous Chinatown massacre occurred in 1871, when the Chinese numbered less than two hundred. Still, hostility did intensify in the 1880s as Chinatown's population increased and the market for laborers contracted.... In 1897, the Los Angeles Trades Council issued the earliest recorded call for removing the city's Chinese". At a public rally held in February and attended by an estimated 10 percent of the city's total population (approximately 6,000 people), "a majority voted to impose a boycott, commencing May 1
,...Dr. Joseph P. Widney also attended and spoke at the rally....Widney stressed to the crowd that the presence of Chinese imperiled the whole experiment of our republic". "In California,... residents espoused a free labor ideology. The presence of the Chinese was antithetical to this ideology and represented a potential threat to white labor". Widney wrote, "After preparing the rolls and dessert for the family dinner, the Chinese servant spends his nights gambling in the dirty hovels of Chinatown," where "the sickening odor of their opium pipes pervades the little rooms in which they congregate". For many Southern Californians, all Chinese were supposed to be active participants in the white-slave traffic.
Widney and the African-American population
Widney in his 1876 History
indicates: "In the spring of 1850, probably three or four colored persons were in the city. In 1875, they numbered 175 souls, many of whom hold good city property acquired by industry. They are farmers, mechanics, or some other useful occupation, and remarkable for good habits".
African-American activist W.E.B. Du Bois used Widney's Race Life of the Aryan Races to support his own view of the significance of the contributions of blacks to the development of modern civilization. Widney wrote:
They [the Negroes] once occupied a much wider territory and wielded a vastly greater influence upon earth than they do now. They are found chiefly in Africa, yet traces of them are to be found through the Islands of Malaysia, remnants, no doubt, of that more numerous black population which seems to have occupied tropical Asia before the days of the Semites, the Mongols, and the Brahminic Aryan. Back in the centuries which are scarcely historic, where history gives only vague hintings, are traces of a widespread, primitive civilization, crude, imperfect, garish, barbaric, yet ruling the world from its seats of power in the valley of the Ganges, the Euphrates, and the Nile, and it was of the Black races. The first Babylon seems to have been of a Negroid race. The earliest Egyptian civilization seems to have been Negroid. It was in the days before the Semite was known in either land. The Black seems to have built up a great empire, such as it was, by the waters of the Ganges before Mongol or Aryan. Way down under the mud and slime of the beginnings ... is the Negroid contribution to the fair superstructure of modern civilization.
In The Three Americas(1935), Widney suggests that the United States buy British Guiana from the United Kingdom and give it to the African Americans as reparations for slavery. British Guiana would only be for the "natural increase" of the African American population, he stated; no one would be forced to go there if they didn't want to. (Widney felt that racial characteristics were determined by soil and climate, and thus he thought that African Americans would be happier living in a tropical climate.) Widney's primary motivation was to provide territory for the "rapidly multiplying black population of our land." However, he believed that the "negroes" should not be compelled to migrate, but would desire to do so for climatic and economic reasons.
Widney and Anglo-Aryan supremacy
According to Natalia Molina, "Joseph Widney wrote books that espoused white supremacy, including Race Life of the Aryan Peoples
and The Three Americas: Their Racial Past and the Dominant Racial Factors of Their Future
In Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding (2005), Alexandra Minna Stern indicates that Widney was similar to many other prominent Californians of his time, such as David Starr Jordan or Paul Popenoe, in espousing eugenic opinions. Kevin Starr opines that Widney "came dangerously close to being a crank, yet...a streak of hardheaded practicality and a flair for entrepreneurial success qualified his utopianism" (Starr 90). Influenced by decades of voracious reading and in part by the writings of Charles Fletcher Lummis (1859-1928), who was convinced that "[t]he Anglo-Saxon stock was improving" and that Southern California was "the new Eden of the Saxon home-seeker Widney provided Southern California with "the full implications of Lummis's theories in his two-volume Race Life of the Aryan Peoples published in 1907. In 1913, William Henry Ferris described this book as "the prose epic of the Aryan race". (This tome was regarded as "one of the most influential books of the 1920s". Widney's alma mater, Miami University of Oxford, Ohio, awarded him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1907 due to its perceived scholarship. However, despite its widespread acceptance and popularity in the early part of the twentieth century, it has since been regarded as rather controversial or ignored as hopelessly outdated. Widney's "writings are still quoted today by white supremacist groups like the National Vanguard. Jean-Daniel Plüss describes Widney as an Aryan supremacist, while Kevin Starr opines that "perceived from one point of view, he was a harmless eccentric; from another angle, however, he can be considered an incipient fascist".
Recently Paul Brennan discussed Widney's racial views in the OC Weekly:
No one in Pasadena exemplified the Southland's interest in racial questions better than prominent physician Dr. Joseph Widney. According to Widney, while he was serving as an army surgeon in the Arizona territory in the late 1860s, God revealed to him His plan for the white race. The Southwest would become the homeland of the Aryan people, and Los Angeles would be its capital. Widney spent 40 years working out the details of his vision, and in 1907, he published his magnum opus, Race Life of the Aryan Peoples. It must be stressed that Widney was not considered a crank. Some people might have found his evangelical fervor, or his advocacy of polygamy, or his habit of eating a raw onion every morning to be off-putting, but Widney was a respected member of society. He was the first dean of USC's medical school, after which he became the university's second president. His racial views may have been extreme, but in his day, they were not considered bizarre.
According to Fine, Widney's Race Life provides
a fulsome account of the race destiny of the Anglo-Saxon in Southern California. What he called the "Engle" people (linked to terms like Aryan and Nordic and, as cognate, to Anglo) were destined to thrive in the region. The North Sea people go west, following the sun, and are reinvigorated. The movement away from the American East, where the cities have been blighted by the inundation of hordes of clannish and unassimilable immigrants from southern and eastern Europe, is movement toward freedom, toward regeneration and racial destiny. The identification of the West with Anglo-Saxon racial health is a familiar enough theme in late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth- century western writing.
In this book, Widney
saw Anglo colonization west of the Mississippi as a triumphant procession that had begun centuries ago in Eurasia. From this distant region, the Aryan began his journey to the New World and eventually to Los Angeles, which, he argued, would become the world capital of white World domination. Consequently, Widney advocated the Aryanization of the entire Pacific coast of the United States (p.121), believing that the genetic composition of the Teutonic people better fitted them to rule the New World than the Latin people (p.129) "The Engle people, Widney argued (by which he meant the Angles or Anglo-Saxons), were destined by divine providence to flourish in Southern California and the American Southwest.
Frankiel explains Widney's motivation:
His great passion was to understand and explain the direction of history from the remote past into the future. His explorations in the history of the Aryan race and the American continents were all part of an effort to map the human cosmos with its amazing diversity of present and past peoples. On his map the Aryans had the central place, while the other races—black, yellow, red—were passing from the scene. Among the Aryans he selected the Scots-Irish and English for special attention as representing the ultimate in the Aryan conquest of the planet....His otherwise glowing account of the Scots-Irish is dampened only when he notes their tendency to hold onto Calvinism. Methodism, he said, with its "hopeful hymns and scant theology" was a better way. Nevertheless, ecclesiasticism was growing even in the Methodist church. "But", he declared firmly, "the current of Teutonic spiritual life is going the other way."
In Race Life of the Aryan Peoples, Widney saw that in Los Angeles "the Captains of Industry are the truest captains of the race war"(page 7). According to Bokovoy, Widney
placed the fledgling west coast city as the world epicenter of Aryan supremacy. For civic promoters, Los Angeles stood as a redeemer metropolis, especially in contrast to other U.S. cities apparently overrun with African Americans, southeastern Europeans, and Asian immigrants. These boosters created a national, eugenic brand for Los Angeles: a city bathed in sunlight and steeped in the cult of vitality, a city that offered restoration of the white body politic under threat of "racial amalgamation" and race suicide. Los Angeles eventually emerged in the minds of many Americans as a healthy alternative to modern, urban chaos and ethnic diversity of cities in the Northeast, Midwest, and South. But in order to achieve this feat, L.A. leaders from the infamous, vigilante-style Chamber of Commerce found it necessary to remove and isolate its large ethnic Mexican population, even as industrial L.A. required the labor of ethnic Mexicans to build the Aryan future. At the same time, the city recast the locale's Spanish history and heritage to establish European roots for the city.
According to Sandra Frankiel,
In large part, his 1907 volumes can be understood as a defense of the imperialistic attitudes held by many Americans, and attacked by some, at the turn of the century. Imperialism, he declared, was a "bogy" [sic] that Americans used to frighten themselves away from fulfilling their destiny. In fact, the "resistless working of the higher law of race expansion" overrides any protests and any treaties or agreements between countries; it is best simply to recognize the facts. The strong and highly civilized must and will replace the weak and barbarous peoples.
In 1935, only three years before his death at age 96, Widney wrote The Three Americas, reasserting his previous predictions of inevitable Aryan ascendancy.
List of works
Books by Widney
- Lindley, Walter and Joseph Widney. California of the South: Its Physical Geography, Climate, Resources, Routes of Travel, and Health-Resorts Being a Complete Guide-Book to Southern California.D. Appleton and Company: 1888; 3rd edition; 1896.
- Warner, J.J.; Benjamin Hayes; and Joseph Widney. An Historical Sketch of Los Angeles County, California: From the Spanish Occupancy, By the Founding of the Mission San Gabriel Archangel, [[September 8], 1771, to July 4, 1876]. Prepared by a committee appointed by the Literary Committee of the Los Angeles Centennial Celebration. Louis Lewin & Co.: 1876; Reprint ed. O. W. Smith: 1936). "The three authors were members of the literary committee of the Los Angeles Centennial Celebration. This work is the first published history of Los Angeles."
- Warner, J.J.; Benjamin Hayes; and Joseph Widney. An Historical Sketch of Los Angeles County, California from the Spanish Occupancy, by the Founding of the Mission San Gabriel Archangel, September 8, 1771, to July 4, 1876.. Prepared by a committee appointed by the Literary Committee of the Los Angeles Centennial Celebration. Louis Lewin & Co.: 1876. Second Issue which was printed in the same year as the first, 1876, but includes an Appendix with an account of the Centennial Celebration of the Declaration of Independence in Los Angeles, the first history of Los Angeles authored by three important pioneers. First Edition.
- Warner, J.J.; Benjamin Hayes and J.P. Widney. An Historical Sketch of Los Angeles County, California from the Spanish Occupancy, by the Founding of the Mission San Gabriel Archangel, September 8, 1771, to July 4, 1876. A Reprint of the Original Edition...to Which Is Added an Invaluable Introduction Written by Dr. J. P. Widney, the Surviving Member of the Trio.Los Angeles: O. W. Smith, Publisher, 1936. 10-159 pp. Frontispiece portraits of the three authors. "Widney came to Los Angeles in 1868 as a physician and was a youth of only 35 when he participated in the authorship of the original historical sketch of Los Angeles County. However he stated that he took care of many of the native Hispanic Californians in his practice and laments the passing of their culture. He was 95 when he wrote the poignant introduction to this reprint. In those 60 years between the first printing and this one, the population of Los Angeles County went from ten thousand to 1.2 million."
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. Ahasuerus: A race tragedy. Los Angeles, CA: Pacific Publishing, 1915.
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. All Fader. 
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. "All-Father."  Privately published pamphlet of 8 pages, including the cover, a photograph of Beth-El ("A Chapel and Manse of the Church of the All-Father"), an article entitled "Is It Again the Fullness of God's Time with the Soul of Man?", the poem "Brother", and a brief personal greeting by Widney ("Pastor of Beth-El").
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. Civilizations and their diseases and Rebuilding a wrecked world civilization. Los Angeles, CA: Pacific Pub. Co.  On-line edition: PDF: TXT:
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. Conversational Gems of Doctor JP Widney. 1938.
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. The faith that has come to me. Los Angeles, CA: Pacific Publishing, 1932.
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. The genesis and evolution of Islam and Judaeo-Christianity. Los Angeles, CA: Pacific Pub. Co.  On-line edition: PDF file: TXT file:
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. The greater city of Los Angeles: A plan for the development of Los Angeles city as a great world health center 
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. A greater harbor of Los Angeles. 
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. Life and its problems, as viewed by a blind man at the age of ninety-six, edited by T. Cameron Taylor. Hollywood, CA: Joseph P. Widney Publications, [1941?].
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. The lure and the land;: An idyl of the Pacific. Los Angeles, CA: Pacific Publishing, 1932.
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. A New Europe.  Issued separately, but also included in Widney's Civilizations and their Diseases.
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. A New Orient.  Issued separately, but also included in Widney's Civilizations and their Diseases.
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. Race life and race religions;: Modern light on their growth, their shaping and their future; a survey. Los Angeles, CA: Pacific Publishing, 1936.
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. Race Life of the Aryan Peoples. New York: Funk & Wagnells . ISBN B000859S6O In this massive best-selling two volume work Joseph Pomeroy Widney describes in Volume One the origin of the Aryans (i.e., the Proto-Indo-Europeans) in what is now Ukraine about 5000 BC, and how they spread out and formed the great Aryan empires such as the Hittite empire, Persian empire, Mauryan empire, Macedonian empire, Roman empire, Gupta empire, Spanish empire, French empire, and British empire; in Volume Two is described the major present-day subraces of the Aryans (i.e., the Indo-Europeans) and their varying racial characteristics, i.e., the Indo-Aryans (including the Sinhalese and Maldivians), Indo-Iranians (including Armenians), Balts, Slavs, Gypsies, Albanians, Greeks, Romanics, Nordics, Celts, Anglo-Saxons, Anglo-Americans, Québécois, North American White Hispanics, White Latin Americans, Anglo-Australians, Anglo-New Zealanders, Anglo-Africans, and Boers.
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. The song of the Engle men;: And an appeal to the widely-scattered Engle men of the world. Los Angeles, CA: Pacific Pub. Co. 
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. The Three Americas: Their Racial Past and the Dominant Racial Factors of their Future. Los Angeles, CA: Pacific Publishing, 1935.
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. To the Engle peoples of the world. 
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. The Transportation Problem. Evening Express Newspaper and Printing Company, 1877.
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. Via Domini. 
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. The Way of Life; Holiness Unto the Lord; The Indwelling Spirit; The Baptism of the Holy Ghost Los Angeles, 1900.
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. Whither away?: The problem of death and the hereafter. Los Angeles, CA: Pacific Publishing, 1934.
Articles by Widney
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. "And They Sang as It Were a New Song." Overland Monthly and Out West Magazine 14: 83 (November 1889): 548.
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. "Cain." Overland Monthly and Out West Magazine 13: 1 (July 1874): 30-37.
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. "The Chinese Question." Overland Monthly and Out West Magazine 2: 12 (December 1883) 627-631.
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. "Climatic Changes Which Man is Working in Southern California." The Southern California Practitioner 1 (October 1886): 389–93. Widney credited white settlement with several improvements in the Southern California climate, including less variation in temperature, milder winds, and increased rainfall.
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. "The Colorado Desert." Overland Monthly and Out West Magazine 10: 1 (Jan 1873): 44-55. Reprinted Los Angeles Times (20 September 1891):10. Widney argues for diverting the Colorado River and thus creating an inland sea in the Colorado Desert, arguing that this would improve the climate and would thus sustain a large population.
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. "The Communist's Baby." Overland Monthly and Out West Magazine 12: 2 (February 1874): 138-140. See also *Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. 'The Communist's Baby,' pages 255-260 in The City's Voice: Pioneer Prose And Poetry From The Overland Monthly (Early California Writers Series), edited by Devorah Knaff . Santa Ana River Press, 2004. See also p. 332. "A tragic story about a woman living in the depths of degradation in a dark district of the town of Los Angeles, in the Southern portion of our State—a woman who made a mother's ultimate sacrifice for her child."
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. "The Faith Cure Fallacy", Southern California Practitioner 1 (1886): 118-22.
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. "A Historical Sketch of the Movement for a Political Separation of the Two Californias, Northern and Southern, Under the Spanish and American Regimes." Annual Publication of the Historical Society of Southern California 1 (1888-1889): 21-24. Advocates the bifurcation of California.
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. "Irrigation and Drainage", in California State Board of Health: Seventh Biennial Report, 1880-1881. Sacramento, CA: 1882. Pages 104-6.
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. "Letter from Ft. Bowie, 1867." Kiva: Journal of Southwestern Anthroplogy and History 30:3 (c.1965):87-90.
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. "Let us Buy Europe Out of America." Los Angeles Times (3 January 1932):K6. Widney advocates exchanging European debt for European territory in Central and South America and the West Indies.
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. "Mr. James Nesmith." Overland Monthly and Out West Magazine 13: 4 (October 1874): 315-318.
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. "A New Europe." Calif West Med. 48:2 (February 1938): 78-79. Widney calls for 'the realignment of Europe upon racial rather than upon national lines"; strict separation of church and state, granting freedom of religion; and no restrictions on maritime commerce.
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. "Our City Water Supply". Los Angeles Times (27 January 1905):16. Widney proposes 7 practical measures to conserve the water supply for Los Angeles.
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. "A Pacific Coast Policy." Overland Monthly and Out West Magazine 13: 78 (June 1889): 619-622.
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. "Pepita." Overland Monthly and Out West Magazine 12: 1 (Jan 1874): 18-20.
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. "Rational Or Liberal Medicine: As Understood Some "Fifty Years Ago: Part I." Calif West Med. 44:6 (June 1936):513-516. Reprint of "an address delivered by J.P. Widney, A.M., M.D., dean of the College of Medicine of the University of Southern California, before the Unity Club of Los Angeles." Reprint from the Southern California Practitioner (April, 1888).
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. "Rational or Liberal Medicine: As Understood some "Fifty Years Ago": Part II." Calif West Med. 45:1 (July 1936): 58-61. Reprint of "an address delivered by J. P. Widney, A.M., M.D., dean of the College of Medicine of the University of Southern California, before the Unity Club of Los Angeles."
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. "Relation of Rational, or Liberal Medicine to the Various Schools of Medicine". Calif West Med. 45:2 (August 1936):117–118.
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. "Report of Committee on Medical Topography, Meteorology, Endemics, and Epidemics." Transactions of the Medical Society of the State of California, Session of 1889 [19th], 15–16.
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. "Two Civic Centers Best." Los Angeles Times (30 March 1919):II 2. Widney proposes both a Civic Center and a Cultural Center.
- Widney, Joseph Pomeroy. "The Yellow Fever Question." (Letters of the People) Los Angeles Times (26 September 1883):0_3. Widney recommends creation of a Board of Health for LA. He reassures readers that LA citizens were safe from Yellow Fever due to its climate.
- Almaguer, Tomás. Racial Fault Lines: The Historical Origins of White Supremacy in California. University of California Press, 1994.
- Altshuler, Constance Wynn. Cavalry Yellow and Infantry Blue: Army Officers in Arizona Between 1851 and 1886. Tucson, AZ: Arizona Historical Society, 1991. "The focus is on individual lives, with concise, insightful biographies of army officers serving in Arizona between 1851 and 1886."
- Altshuler, Constance Wynn. Chains of Command: Arizona and the Army 1856- 1875. Maps by Don Bufkin. Tucson, AZ: Arizona Historical Society, 1981.
- Altshuler, Constance Wynn. Starting with Defiance: Nineteenth Century Arizona Military Posts. Tucson, AZ: Arizona Historical Society, 1983. Chronicles the establishment of each post and includes information on the founding units, the engagements they fought, the living conditions they endured or enjoyed, and more.
- An Illustrated History of Los Angeles County, California: Containing a history of Los Angeles County from the earliest period of its occupancy to the present time, together with glimpses of its prospective future .. and biographical mention of many of its pioneers and also of prominent citizens of to-day. Chicago, IL; Lewis Publishing Company, 1889. See page 200 re: JP Widney.
- An Illustrated History of Southern California: Embracing the Counties of San Diego, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, [etc.]; together with A Memorial and Biographical History of Northern California, Illustrated: Pen Pictures From the Garden of the World. Chicago, IL; Lewis Publishing Company, 1890.
- Anthony, C.V. Fifty years of Methodism; a history of the Methodist Episcopal Church within the bounds of the California annual conference from 1847 to 1897. Methodist Book Concern, 1901.
- Apostol, Jane, The Historical Society of Southern California, A Centennial History 1891-1991. Sultana Press, 1991. Widney was actively involved in this society.
- Avila, Eric. Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight: Fear and Fantasy in Suburban Los Angeles. Berkley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California, 1980, 2006. See page 22 for Widney's belief that "Los Angeles was destined to become the world capital of Aryan supremacy".
- Baur, John E. The Health Seekers of Southern California 1870-1900. San Marino, CA: Huntington Library, 1959. Widney mentioned pages 72, 77, 82-83, and 96.
- Beasley, Delilah L. The Negro Trail Blazers of California: A compilation of records from the California archives in the Bancroft Library at the University of California, ... of old pioneers in the State of California. n.p., 1919. Reprint eds. Kessinger, 2005; Book Jungle, 2007. See page 110 for Widney's favourable evaluation of Los Angeles' African-American population.
- Bell, Horace. On the Old West Coast: Being Further Reminiscences of a Ranger, Major Horace Bell. Edited by Lanier Bartlett. Reprint eds. Reprint Services Corp, 1930; Grosset & Dunlap, 1930; Arno Press, 1976. See pages 268-270 for description of Widneyville-by-the-Sea. "Blocks and blocks were sold from the plat of "Widney-ville-by-the-Desert," at boom prices but no house was built on the actual site."(Bell, Old West Coast, 270)
- Bell, Horace. Reminiscences of a Ranger: Or, Early Times in Southern California. Printer: Yarnell, Caystile & Mathes, 1881. On-line text: See pages 176 , 413-424 for Bell's scathing comments regarding the "mythical Widney Sea."
- Botkin, Daniel B. No Man's Garden: Thoreau and a New Vision for Civilization and Nature. Island Press, 2000. See pages 220-221 for details re Widneyville.
- Brinckerhoff, Sidney B. Camp Date Creek, Arizona Territory Infantry Outpost in the Yavapai Wars, 1867-1873 (Smoke Signals Collection). Tucson Corral of the Westerners, 1964.
- Bryant, Edwin E. The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture: The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate. Oxford University Press, 2001. An excellent discussion of a controversial subject. See pages 33-34 for Widney's contribution to the debate on the Aryan peoples.
- Burr, Clinton Stoddard. America's Race Heritage: An account of the diffusion of ancestral stocks in the United States during three centuries of national expansion and a discussion of its significance. The National Historical Society, 1922; reprint ed., Ayer Co., 1977. See pages 242 and 259 for discussion of Widney's racial views in relation to the defeat of the Confederacy in the American Civil War.
- Cates, Robert B. Joshua Tree National Park: A Visitor's Guide. Chatsworth, CA: Live Oak Press, 1995. Refers to Widneyville-by-the-desert.
- Caughey, John Walton and La Ree Caughey. Los Angeles: Biography of a City. Berkley, CA: University of California Press, 1976. See page 159 for Widney's initial impressions regarding Southern California.
- Clark, David L. Los Angeles, A City Apart: An Illustrated History. Windsor Publications, 1981.
- Comas, Juan. Racial Myths (Unesco The race question in modern science). UNESCO, 1951; 1958. Reprint ed. Greenwood Press 1976. See page 43 for view opposing Widney's regarding predominance of blond Celts in France.
- Conrotto, Eugene L. Lost Gold and Silver Mines of the Southwest. Courier Dover, 1996. Page 14 outlines "Widney Sea" proposal, including a map.
- Cory, H.T. The Imperial Valley and the Salton Sink. John J. Newbegin, 1915.
- Cox, Harvey. Fire from Heaven: The Rise of Pentecostal Spirituality and the Reshaping of Religion in the 21st Century. Perseus Books Group, 2001. See pages 35-37 for Widney's advocacy of Los Angeles as an Aryan utopia: "the future world capital of Aryan supremacy, a 'new Rome' whose virile sons and daughters would one day lead the world."(35)
- D.A.R. (Daughters of the American Revolution), compilers. Vital Records from Cemeteries in California to 1962. Volume 9,  pages 388-389. Details regarding Widney family members.
- Davis, Mike. "Sunshine and the Open Shop: Ford and Darwin in 1920s Los Angeles", pages 96-122 in Metropolis in the Making: Los Angeles in the 1920s, edited by Tom Sitton and William Deverell. Berkley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California. See page 116 regarding Widney's Aryan beliefs.
- de Stanley, Mildred. The Salton Sea yesterday and today. Los Angeles, CA: Triumph Press, 1966. See page 18 for discussion of Widney's proposal to flood Salton Sink.
- Deverell, William. Whitewashed Adobe: The Rise of Los Angeles and the Remaking of Its Mexican Past. University of California Press, 2005. See pages 7 and 104 re: Widney.
- Deverell, William and Douglas Flamming. "Race, Rhetoric, and Regional Identity: Boosting Los Angeles, 1880-1930". In Power and Place in the North American West, (Emil and Kathleen Sick Lecture-Book Series in Western History and Biography). Edited by Richard White and John M. Findlay. Pages 117-143. University of Washington, 1999. See page 120 for identification of Widney as among "a small group of extraordinarily powerful men working to consolidate and add to their power."
- DiLio, Michael and Eleanor Smith. Two Californias: The Truth About the Split-State Movement. Covelo, CA: Island Press, 1983.
- Dowbiggin, Ian Robert. Keeping America Sane: Psychiatry and Eugenics in the United States and Canada, 1880-1940. (Cornell Studies in the History of Psychiatry). Cornell University Press, 1997; Reprint, 2003. See page 120 for discussion of Widney's contribution to eugenics movement.
- Du Bois, William Edward Burghardt. The World and Africa: An Inquiry Into the Part which Africa Has Played in World History. Rev. ed. International Publishers, 1979. Quotes Widney approvingly on page 179 regarding the "Negroid" contribution to the superstructure of modern civilization.
- Du Bois, William Edward Burghardt; Bill Mullen and Cathryn Watson. W.E.B. Du Bois on Asia: Crossing the World Color Line. University Press of Mississippi, 2005. See page 11 for Widney's views on contributions of the black races to modern civilization.
- Dumke, Glenn S. The Boom of the Eighties in Southern California. University of California Press, 1944. See pages 33,77, 82 and 103 regarding Widney.
- E.T.W. Joseph Pomeroy Widney: A biography of Joseph Pomeroy Widney, M.D., founder of the Los Angeles County Medical Association and of the College of Medicine of the University of Southern California, Civic Worker, and Author: Some Biographical Notes on a Colleague, who, at the Age of 95, Still 'Carries On. (California and Western Medicine). San Francisco, CA: 1936.
- Farnsworth, R.W.C. A southern California paradise (in the suburbs of Los Angeles) : Being a historic and descriptive account of Pasadena, San Gabriel, Sierra Madre, and La Cañada; with important reference to Los Angeles and all southern California. Pasadena, CA: R.W.C. Farnsworth, 1883. "Despite its unabashed boosterism, Farnsworth's compendium includes valuable and interesting glimpses of life and land during the early days of the land boom, with contributions from such California luminaries as John Muir, J.P. Widney, and Abbot Kinney."(Abe Books)
- Federal Writers' Project. California A Guide to the Golden State. US History Publishers. See page 60 for Widneyville and California boom and bust.
- Ferrier, William Warren. Ninety Years of Education in California, 1846-1936. Berkeley, CA: Sather Gate Book Shop, 1930. See pages 146 and 264 regarding Widney.
- Ferris, William Henry. The African Abroad: Or, His Evolution in Western Civilization, Tracing His Development Under Caucasian Milieu. 2 vols. Tuttle, Morehouse and Taylor, 1913. See page 505 for his discussion of Widney's Race Life of the Aryan Peoples.
- Fine, David M. Imagining Los Angeles: A City in Fiction (Western Literature Series). Rev. ed. University of Nevada, 2004. See page 61 where Fine describes Widney as a "racist ideologue".
- Frankiel, Sandra Sizel. California's Spiritual Frontiers: Religious Alternatives in Anglo-Protestantism, 1850-1910. Berkley, CA: University of California Press, 1988. On line edition See chapters 6 and 7 especially for discussion on Widney's religious beliefs.
- Gaddis, Maxwell Pierson. Foot-prints of An Itinerant. Cincinnati, OH: Methodist Book Concern, 1855. See pages 436- for account ogf Gaddis' ministry at Piqua, Ohio and connection with Widney family. Describes a revival at the Methodist church at Piqua in late 1851 (pp 437-439), and the death of Widney's father, Wilson Widney, "Brother Widney was a man of great moral worth, and one of our most efficient stewards at Piqua."(439) Gaddis indicates also that Arabella Widney's brother was Rev S. Maclay, the first Methodist missionary to China.
- Garcia, Lorie; George Giacomini; and Geoffrey Goodfellow. A Place of Promise: the City of Santa Clara 1852-2002. City of Santa Clara, 2002. Joseph Widney lived in Santa Clara while attending the University of the Pacific there. His oldest brother John was a prominent citizen. See page 62 for photo of John Widney building.
- Gaw, Allison. "A Sketch of the Development of Graduate Work in the University of Southern California, 1910-1935." University of Southern California publications.
- Grover, W.A., compiler. Catalogue of Physicians and Surgeons Licensed by Board of Examiners of the Medical Society of the State of California. San Francisco, CA: A.L. Bancroft and Co, 1877.
- Gumprecht, M.R. Blake. The Los Angeles River: Its Life, Death, and Possible Rebirth. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University, rev.ed., 2001. Page 158 relates the flooding of 1884 that destroyed Widney's house.
- Hankins, Frank H. The Racial Basis Of Civilization. New York; London: Alfred A Knopf, 1926. See pages 24, 144-145, and 328. Widney asserts the danger of mixing racial groups through miscegenation citing the example of the Celtic people and eastern Europe due to "the ferment of mixed blood" (328).
- Harris, Henry. California's Medical Story. Springfield, IL: Grabborn, 1932. See page 248.
- Hill, Laurance L. La Reina: Los Angeles in three centuries; a volume commemorating the fortieth anniversary of the founding of the Security Trust & Savings Bank of Los Angeles, February 11, 1889.. Los Angeles, CA: 1929. p.78 portrait of Widney.
- Hill, Laurance Landreth. Six Collegiate Decades, The Growth of Higher Education in Southern California. Los Angeles, CA: Security-First National Bank, 1929.
- Hills. A.M. Phineas F. Bresee, D.D.: A Life Sketch. Kansas City, MO: Nazarene, n.d.
- History of Los Angeles County. Chicago, IL: Lewis, 1889. p.200 portrait of Widney.
- Hunt, R.D. History of the College of the Pacific, 1851‑1951. Stockton, CA: College of the Pacific, 1951. Widney graduated from this college when it was located in Santa Clara with an M.A. degree.
- Hunt, Rockwell D. California and Californians. Volume 3. 1900. Page 492.
- Hunt, Rockwell Dennis. The First Half‑Century, University of Southern California. Los Angeles, CA: University of Southern California Press, 1930.
- Jackson, A. "Widney, Joseph Pomeroy." Dictionary of American Biography, page 715. Edited by Harris Elwood Starr and Allen Johnson. American Council of Learned Societies. New York, NY: Scribner's Sons, 1937.
- Jaher, Frederic Cople. The Urban Establishment: Upper Strata in Boston, New York, Charleston, Chicago, and Los Angeles. University of Illinois Press, 1982.
- James, George Wharton. The Wonders of the Colorado Desert: its Rivers and its Mountains, its Canyons and its Springs, its Life and its History. Boston, MA: Little Brown, 1906. On-line: (CAUTION: VERY LARGE FILE) Smaller txt version: See pages 271-276 for discussion of Widney's proposal to flood the Salton Sink to recreate the Salton Sea.
- Jervey, Edward Drewry. The History of Methodism in Southern California and Arizona Nashville, TN: Parthenon Press, 1960, 113.
- Kay, Lile E. The Molecular Vision of Life: Caltech, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Rise of the New Biology (Monographs on the History & Philosophy of Biology). Oxford University Press, 1996. See pages 61-63 for discussion of Widney's racial views.
- Kress, George Henry. A History of the Medical Profession of Southern California. Los Angeles, CA: Times-Mirror, 1910. See pages 26-32 for Widney. Kress praises The Race Life of the Aryan Peoples as a "great work...an authority wherever the English language is read", and Widney as "a prophet and seer".
- Kurashige, Scott. The Shifting Grounds of Race: Black and Japanese Americans in the Making of Multiethnic Los Angeles (Politics and Society in Twentieth Century America). Princeton University Press, 2007. See pages 16-17
- Landauer, Susan; Jean Stern and Donald D. Keyes. California Impressionists. University of California, 1996. See page 14 for Widney's view of Los Angeles as health capital.
- Laurila, Mark. "The Los Angeles Booster Myth, the Anti-Myth and John Fante's Ask the Dust". In John Fante: A Critical Gathering. Papers originally presented at the John Fante Conference, May 4-6, 1995, at California State University, Long Beach. Edited by Stephen Cooper and David M. Fine. Pages 112-121. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1999. See page 117.
- Lichtenstein, Bea. Cemeteries of Santa Clara (Images of America: California). Arcadia Publishing, 2005. See page 19 for photo of the crypt of John Widney, and details of his career, including being president of the Santa Clara Town Board of Trustees prior to its incorporation in 1852. He was the first city treasurer, and re-elected 1866-1869. He was a trustee of the College of the Paific. Widney operated a grocery store, a plumbing business, and Santa Clara's first telegraph office, the Post Telegraph.
- Lichtenstein, Bea. Santa Clara (Images of America). Arcadia Publishing, 2004. See page 17 for mention of the Widney Hall Theater, and page 18 for photo of Widney's Mercantile Store, operated by John Widney (1837-1925), the oldest brother of Dr Joseph P Widney, who " opened his store, on the corner of Franklin and Main Streets, in and continued to operate the business for 30 years until he retired from mercantile life and engaged in real estate enterprises. Widney served as the first treasurer of the City of Santa Clara when its government was formed in 1852."(Lichtenstein 18)
- Lindsay, Diana. Anza-Borrego A to Z: People, Places, and Things. Sunbelt Publications, 2000. See page 218 for Widney's proposal to flood the Salton Trough.
- Ludmerer, Kenneth M. Learning to Heal: The Development of American Medical Education. Johns Hopkins University, 1985; 1996. See pages 73-74 for Widney's role as Dean of the USC School of Medicine and desire to be best-practice in medical education.
- Lummis, Charles F. Dateline Fort Bowie: Charles Fletcher Lummis Reports on an Apache War. Edited by Dan L. Thrapp. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1979. Widney was posted here 1867-1868 as post surgeon.
- Mayers, Jackson. The San Fernando Valley. Walnut, CA: J.D. McIntyre; TK Press, 1976. Information regarding the Maclay/Widney Ranch, p.89.
- Marquez, Ernest. Port of Los Angeles: An Illustrated History from 1850 to 1945. Angel City Press, 2008.
- Marsh, George P. The Earth as Modified by Human Action: A new edition of Man and Nature. 1874. Reprint ed. IndyPublish.com, 2005. e-Text: See pages 555-556. Martin praises Widney's proposal to flood parts of the Colorado Desert.
- McChristian, Douglas C. Fort Bowie, Arizona: Combat Post of the Southwest, 1858–1894. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma, 2005. Widney served here 1867-1868 as a military surgeon. Quotes from letters Widney wrote to family and friends while stationed at Fort Bowie. See pages 101, 102, 221, 223, 225, 244 and 247.
- McWilliams, Carey. Southern California: An Island on the Land. Gibbs Smith, 1980.
- Meyer, William B. Americans and Their Weather. Oxford University Press, 2000.
- Miami University (Oxford, Ohio). Annual Reports of the President, the Dean and Other Officers. Oxford, OH: Miami University, n.d. See page 79 for report that Widney donated a copy of his Race Life of the Aryan Peoples to his alma mater. See page 100 for curious indication that Widney paid $95 for a deposit on his degree (presumably the honorary LL.D. awarded by Miami University).
- Molina, Natalia. Fit to Be Citizens?: Public Health and Race in Los Angeles, 1879-1939 (American Crossroads). Berkley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California, 2006. See pages 19, 21, 30-31 and 147. Widney espouses white supremacy and warns against presence of Chinese in Los Angeles.
- Nash, Linda Lorraine. Inescapable Ecologies: A History of Environment, Disease, and Knowledge. Berkley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California, 2007. Discusses Widney's views relating climate and health. See pages 56, 67, 71, and 73.
- Newmark, Harris. Sixty Years in Southern California: 1853-1913: containing the reminiscences of Harris Newmark.. Edited by Maurice H. Newmark and Marco R. Newmark. Houghton-Mifflin, 1916.On-line text: See pages 370, 423, 457, 478, 483, 501, 516, 520, 521, 548, and 589 for information regarding Widney.
- Newmark, Marco. "The Community Builders of Los Angeles - Dr Joseph P. Widney", pages 89-93. In Jottings in Southern California History. Ward Ritchie Press, 1955. See pages 41, 83, 86, 89-93. W. Ritchie Press, 1955, rev.ed. 1970.
- "Parergon". 2nd ed. Evansville, IN: Mead Johnson and Company, 1942. Published for American Physicians' Art Association, Flood Building, San Francisco. Features bust of Widney.
- Orsi, Jared. "Hazardous Metropolis: Flooding and Urban Ecology in Los Angeles". Berkley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California. See for details of 1884 flooding of the Los Angeles River that destroyed Widney's home.
- "Parergon," Meaning "Work by the Side of Work": A 100-Page Brochure Portraying the Artistic Creations of Doctors of Medicine". Calif West Med. 57:3 (September 1942): 172. Promotes pamphlet featuring art created by doctors. Specifically mentions the sculptured bust of Widney.
- Pitt, Leonard and Dale Pitt, eds. Los Angeles A to Z: An Encyclopedia of the City and County. University of California, 2000. See page 546 for article on Joseph P. Widney.
- Pomeroy, Earl. The Pacific Slope: A History of California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah, and Nevada. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1966.
- Rand, Carl Wheeler. Joseph Pomeroy Widney: Physician and Mystic. Los Angeles, CA: Anderson, Ritchie & Simon, 1970.
- Rayner, John A. The First Century of Piqua, Ohio. Magee Bros. Publishing, 1916.
- Read, J. Marion and Mary E. Mathes. History of the San Francisco Medical Society. Vol. 1. 1850-1900. San Francisco, CA: San Francisco Medical Society, 1958.
- Redford, M.E. The Rise of the Church of the Nazarene. Rev. ed. Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press Of Kansas City, 1974. Discusses Widney's role in the formation of the Church of the Nazarene.
- Reynolds, Henry James. The world's oldest writings ;: A story of the ups and downs of civilization as told by man's earliest known literary relics : Being an authoritative digest of the whole subject of ancient writings. Antiquities Corp, 1938; Reprint ed. Kessinger, 2003. See page 272: "Widney, however, says "the primitive Aryans were of light color, reddish or brown rather than black."
- Roseman, Curtis C. The Historic Core of Los Angeles (Images of America). Arcadia Publishing: 2004. See page 89 for photograph of Widney, and another of his home at 321 South Hill Street, Los Angeles, described as "a two-story Craftsman clapboard home, roomy, but hardly ostentatious."
- Sagarena, Roberto Lint. "Building California's Past: Mission Revival Architecture and Regional Identity." In Faith in the Market: Religion and the Rise of Urban Commercial Culture. Edited by John M. Giggie and Diane Winston. Pages 91-107. Rutgers University, 2002. See page 96 for discussion of Widney's desire to protect Native American rights and restore the Catholic Missions.
- Sander, Kathleen Waters. The Business of Charity: The Woman's Exchange Movement, 1832-1900. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois, 1998. Background of major charity supported by Mrs Mary Bray Widney.
- Saunders, J.B. de C.M. Humboldtian Physicians in California. Davis, CA: University of California, 1971. From the Foreword: "Dr. Saunders' lecture deals with influence of Baron Alexander von Humboldt on several of the early California physicians. Baron von Humboldt believed that man's biological adjustment to his environment, rather than the historical past or cultural traditions, will determine the future. The popularizing of his interpretations fostered Western expansionism in the United States".
- Schoepflin, Rennie B. Christian Science on Trial: Religious Healing in America. (Medicine, Science, and Religion in Historical Context) Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002. See pages 124-125 for Widney's opposition to Christian Science and its "mind cure" method.
- Seacrest, William B. California Badmen: Mean Men With Guns. Quill Driver Books, 2006. See pages 155-156 for Widney treating policeman Joe Dye after his shootout with marshal William C. Warren on Temple Street on 1 November 1870.
- Seletz, Emil. Portrait Sculpture. Los Angeles, CA: Emil Seletz, c. 1980. Seletz sculpted a bronze bust of Widney. It is described in this book.
- Servin, Manuel P. and Iris Higbie Wilson. Southern California and Its University A history of USC 1880 - 1964. The Ward Ritchie Press, 1969.
- Sitton, Tom and William Deverell, eds. Metropolis in the Making: Los Angeles in the 1920s. Berkley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California. See Page 116 for Mike Davis' description
- Smith, Timothy L. Called Unto Holiness: The Story of the Nazarenes, the Formative Years. Kansas City, MO: Nazarene, 1962. Online edition: Discussed Widney and his role in the formation of the Church of the Nazarene.
- Solly, Samuel Edwin. A Handbook of Medical Climatology: Embodying Its Principles and Therapeutic Application. Philadelphia, PA: Lea Brothers & Co., 1897. See pages 303, 309-310ff for Widney's description of the therapeutic benefits of California's Pacific Coast.
- Spalding, William Andrew. History and Reminiscences, Los Angeles City and County, California. 3 vols. Los Angeles, CA: Finnell & Sons, 1931. See pages 56 and 64.
- Starr, Kevin. Inventing the Dream: California through the Progressive Era. Oxford University Press, 1986. See pages 78, 90-92. Photo of Widney on page 191.
- Stern, Alexandra Minna. Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding. Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press , p.129.
- Stuckey, Sterling. Slave Culture: Nationalist Theory and the Foundations of Black America. Oxford University Press, 1987. See page 279 for influence of Widney on W.E.B. Du Bois regarding the civilisations of the black races in the Ganges, Nile and Euphrates regions, despite being "crude, imperfect, garish, barbaric" being the foundation of later civilisations. "The Black seems to have built up a great empire, such as it was, by the waters of the Ganges before Mongol or Aryan. Way down under the mud and slime of the beginnings ... is the Negroid contribution to the fair superstructure of modern civilization."(quoting Widney, Race Life of the Aryan Peoples (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1907), 2: 238-39.
- Tanner, Obert C. Commitment to Beauty. Newcomen Publication 1146. New York, NY: Newcomen Society in North America, American Branch, 1982. See page 11 for discussion of Widney's role as president of USC during 1893 financial crisis.
- UNESCO. The Race Question in Modern Science. Whiteside Inc. and W. Morrow, 1957. References Widney's Race Life of the Aryan Peoples on page 46 in the context of ambiguity of terms like "Aryan", "Celt" and "Gaul".
- United States Government Printing Office. United States Congressional Serial Set. U.S.G.P.O., 1893. See pages 29-31 for Widney's testimony to the US Congress regarding the need to deepen the harbor at San Pedro.
- Utley, Robert M. A Clash of Cultures: Fort Bowie and the Chiricahua Apaches. Washington, DC: National Park Service, 1977. Widney served at Fort Bowie (1867-1868) during the Apache Wars.
- Walker, Franklin Dickson. A Literary History of Southern California (Chronicles of California). University of California Press, 1950. See pages 93, 95, 120, 202, 271, 280.
- White, Michael D. The Port of Los Angeles. Images of America: California. Arcadia, 2008.
- Widney, Samuel A. Poems. Los Angeles: Grant E. Hogeland, c. 1925. 52 pp. Poems by and in tribute to Samuel A. Widney with pictures of the Widney family.
- Willard, Charles D. The Free Harbor Contest at Los Angeles. Los Angeles, CA: Kingsley-Barnes & Neuner, 1899. Pages 50,79,130 discuss Widney. Free on-line edition
- Wilson, John L. Stanford University School of Medicine and the Predecessor Schools: An Historical Perspective. 2000. On-line edition:
- Winter, Robert and David Gebhard. An Architectural Guidebook to Los Angeles. Rev. ed. Gibbs Smith, 2003. See page 11 for Widney's views on California's climate, and page 287 for architectural description and history of Widney Alumni Hall at USC.
- Workman, Boyle and Caroline Walker. Boyle Workman's The City that Grew: Illustrations, a series of original pen drawings by Harriet Morton Holmes; with additional drawings by Orpha Klinker ... from old photographs by Daniel S. MacManus . N.p.: Southland, 1936. See pages 96 and 159 for details regarding Dr Widney.
- Workman, Frances Widney. The Widneys: An historical sketch of the ancestors and descendants of the California branch from the fifteenth century to 1956. 1974.
- Zimmerman, Tom. Paradise Promoted: The Booster Campaign That Created Los Angeles, 1870-1930. Angel City Press, 2008. Tells the complete story of how the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, the railroads, the speculators, business moguls and the Automobile Club wooed the world west.
- "Addenda to Biographical Sketch of Dr. Joseph P. Widney." California and Western Medicine 44:6 (June 1936):516-517. Contains minutes of organisation of USC Department of Medicine (1885), election of Widney as Dean (1885), and the resignation letter of Widney as Dean (22 September 1896).
- "Another Historical Item: On Medical Specialities". Calif West Med. 52:5 (May 1940):207. Contains extracts from Widney's "Specialism Run Mad", originally published in the Southern California Practitioner 2 (May 1887).
- "Art Work of California Physicians". Calif West Med. 57:3 (September 1942): 217–221. Page 219 lists Seletz bust of Widney.
- Barsness, Richard W. "Iron Horses and an Inner Harbor at San Pedro Bay, 1867-1890". The Pacific Historical Review 34:3 (August 1965):289-303. http://www.jstor.org/pss/3636524 Highlights contributions of Widney brothers and Phineas Banning in upgrading harbor at San Pedro.
- Bluhm, Erik R. "The Mysterious Lost Ship of the Desert." Great God Pan 13 (1999). Discusses Widney's plans to create Salton Sea.
- Bokovoy, Matthew. Review of "Whitewashed Adobe: The Rise of Los Angeles and the Remaking of its Mexican Past" by William Deverell. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004. The Journal of San Diego History 52:1 (2006):96-97.
- Botkin, D.B. and C.E. Beveridge. "Cities as Environments". Urban Ecosystems 1:1 (1997):3-19. Refers to Widneyville By-the-Desert. "Widneyville-by-the-Desert did not succeed. However, this story illustrates that people have long. realized the power of vegetation on the landscape."
- Bourne, Wesley. At the Head of the Table. Calif Med. 69:6 (December 1948):425–428. Numbers Widney as one of California's immortals in medicine.
- Charnock, Donald A. "Medicine Moves West." Paper read at 55th Annual Meeting, Medical Library Association, Los Angeles, California, June 18-22, 1956. See page 458 for overview of Widney's contributions.
- "Committee on History and Obituaries". Calif West Med. 50:4 (Suppl) (April 1939): 47–52. Page 48 reports the death of Widney on 4 July 1938 in Los Angeles.
- "Congratulations to Dr. Joseph P. Widney, Founder of the Los Angeles County Medical Association, on Attaining His Ninety-sixth Birthday." California and Western Medicine 48:1 (January 1938):4. Contains extract from Widney's "Civilizations and Their Diseases, and Rebuilding a Wrecked World Civilization".
- Conner, Glen. "History of Weather Observations Los Angeles, California 1847-1948." Midwestern Regional Climate Center, Climate Database Modernization Program, NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, Asheville, NC: January 2006.
- Daly, Charles P. "Annual Address. Subject: The Geographical Work of the World in 1872." Journal of the American Geographical Society of New York 4 (1873):63-118. Refers to Widney's 1873 article on the Colorado Desert.
- "Diamond Anniversary of the Los Angeles County Medical Association-Historical Notes." Calif West Med64:3 (March 1946): 138-141. Includes Widney's Address to the First Graduating Class of College of Medicine, USC (1888).
- Engh, Michael E. "'A Multiplicity and Diversity of Faiths': Religion's Impact on Los Angeles and the Urban West, 1890-1940," Western Historical Quarterly 28 (Winter, 1997): 463-492.
- Ernst, Eldon G. "The Emergence of California in American Religious Historiography." Religion and American Culture 11:1 (Winter 2001): 31-52.
- E.T.W. "The Lure of Medical History: Joseph Pomeroy Widney: Part I." California and Western Medicine 44:4 (April 1936):292-295.
- E.T.W. "The Lure of Medical History: Joseph Pomeroy Widney: Part II." California and Western Medicine 44:5 (May 1936):396-401.
- [E.T.W.] "The Lure of Medical History: Joseph Pomeroy Widney: A.M., M.D., D.D., LL.D....Unveiling of Bronze Bust of Doctor Widney". Calif West Med. 46:6 (June 1937):398–400. Overview of Widney's life. Extracts of his speech concerning life, race and holistic approach.
- "Fiftieth Anniversary of the Los Angeles County Medical Association". Calif State J Med. 19:3 (March 1921):132–136. Page 34 contains details of 50th Anniversary Dinner honouring Dr Widney.
- Garrigues, George. "Los Angeles in the 1900s: May 1901". (accessed 15 June 2007)
- Gay, Leslie F., Jr. "Founding of the University of Southern California." Southern California Historical Society Publication 8 Parts 1 & 2 (1911), 37‑50.
- Gibbons, Henry, ed. "The Anti-Quackery Law." Pacific Medical and Surgical Journal 18:11 (April 1876):521-524.
- Gibbons, Henry. "History of the Medical Law of California." Pacific Medical and Surgical Journal 26:5 (November 1883):193-199.
- Jervey, Edward Drewry. "The Methodist Church and the University of Southern California." Historical Society of Southern California Quarterly 40 (1958): 59-69.
- "Joseph Pomeroy Widney: Founder of the Los Angeles County Medical Association." Calif West Med 47:1 (July 1937): 2.
- Kurutz, Gary. "Southern California for Health, Wealth, and Sunshine: The Role of Boomers and Boosters". California State Library (South Pasadena Public Library) Volunteer Recognition Day, 23 March 2007. See page 9 for reference to Widneyville by-the-Desert, a failed real estate promotion. "In the Mojave Desert, a town with the picturesque name of Widneyville by-the-Desert featured a stand of Joshua trees on whose spiny blossoms oranges had been impaled, thus creating an orange grove within the reach of all. As one New England observer aptly put it: "Californians irrigate, cultivate, and exaggerate."(Kurutz 9)
- Laflin, P. "The Salton Sea: California's overlooked treasure." The Periscope. Coachella Valley Historical Society, Indio, CA: 1995. Reprinted in 1999. accessed 18 June 2007. Discusses Widney's plans regarding flooding Colorado basis.
- Layne, Joseph Gregg. Annals of Los Angeles: From the Arrival of the First White Men to the Civil War, 1769-1861. California Historical Society, 1935. Page 14 discusses the Centennial History of Los Angeles County (1876) co-written by Widney.
- Lewis, William S. "History of Los Angeles Public Library - Biographies of Directors". 19:1-3. [1937?]
- Locklear, William. "The Celestials and the Angels: A Study of the Anti-Chinese Movement in Los Angeles to 1882," Southern California Quarterly 42:3 (1960):248-250.
- Los Angeles County Pioneers of Southern California. Southern California Quarterly. Historical Society of Southern California, 1884.
- "The Lure of Medical History: Joseph Pomeroy Widney: Unveiling of Bronze Bust of Doctor Widney." California and Western Medicine 46:6 (June 1937):398-400. Photos of Dr Widney and his bronze bust. Includes Widney's address on "The Science of Medicine," which includes theories of race life and the decline of civilisations.
- McCarthy, John R. "Joseph P. Widney's 'Century of Service'". Mentioned in "Historical News and Comments" by E.M. Coulter. The Mississippi Valley Historical Review 26:4 (March 1940): 638-666.
- Macartney, Rebecca Davis, compiler. "Conversational Gems of Dr J.P. Widney." Calif West Med 45:1 (July 1936):61.
- Macartney, Rebecca Davis, compiler. "Conversational Gems of Dr J.P. Widney." Calif West Med 45:2 (August 1936):171.
- Macartney, Rebecca Davis, compiler. "Conversational Gems of Dr J.P. Widney." Calif West Med 45:3 (September 1936):278.
- Macartney, Rebecca Davis, compiler. "Conversational Gems of Dr J.P. Widney." Calif West Med 45:4 (October 1936):355.
- Macartney, Rebecca Davis, compiler. "Conversational Gems of Dr J.P. Widney." Calif West Med 45:5 (November 1936):422.
- Macartney, Rebecca Davis, compiler. "Conversational Gems of Dr J.P. Widney." Calif West Med 45:6 (December 1936):495.
- Mathies, A.W. Jr; and L.B. Ball. "The University of Southern California School of Medicine (Medical Schools of the West)". West J Med 138 (March 1983):441-444.
- "Medicine Specialties as Forecast Some Fifty Years Ago." Calif West Med 51: (May 1940):207. Contains extract from Widney's article "Specialism Run Mad" originally published in the Southern California Practitioner 2 (May 1887).
- "Memorial to Dr. Joseph Pomeroy Widney, Founder of the Los Angeles County Medical Association." Calif West Med 50:2 (February 1939):149. Describes Memorial service held 7 December 1938 at USC honouring Widney.
- Menchaca, Martha. "Chicano-Mexican Cultural Assimilation and Anglo-Saxon Cultural Dominance". Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences 11:3 (August 1989):203-31. Examines cultural assimilation in a Mexican and Chicano community in Santa Paula, California. Argues that the assumption of Anglo-Saxon superiority ascribed inferior social positions to Mexican-origin groups and generated conflict among these groups at times, but promoted intergroup unity when social conditions became intolerable.
- Menchaca, Martha and Richard R. Valencia. "Anglo-Saxon Ideologies in the 1920s-1930s: Their Impact on the Segregation of Mexican Students in California". Anthropology and Education Quarterly 21:3 (September 1990):222-49. Traces the development of Anglo-Saxon superiority theories from the nineteenth century onward and demonstrates their impact on social conditions in the southwest from the 1920s to the present.
- Nash, Linda. "Finishing Nature: Harmonizing Bodies and Environments in Late-Nineteenth-Century California". Environmental History 8:1 (2003).
- Newmark, Marco R. "Two Community Builders of Los Angeles". Historical Society of Southern California Quarterly 33 (June 1951):135-146. Profiles Widney and his brother Robert Maclay Widney.
- "Passing of Joseph P. Widney, Founder of the Los Angeles County Medical Association." Calif West Med. 49:2 (August 1938):106–107. Includes Widney's last two articles: "Why is Death?" and "Heaven." Reprinted in Calif West Med64:3 (March 1946):140-141.
- "Plea for the Preservation and Compilation of Medical Archives of County Medical Societies". Calif West Med. 48:2 (February 1938):76–77. Describes Widney's contributions to medicine in California.
- Plüss, Jean-Daniel. "Can the Good, the Bad and the Ugly turn into the True, Good and Beautiful? Musings on Ethics in Pentecostalism." Paper presented at the 10th EPCRA conference in Leuven, Belgium, 1980/1981. Widney is described as an Aryan supremacist.
- Pomeroy, Earl. "Toward a Reorientation of Western History: Continuity and Environment." Mississippi Valley Historical Review 41 (1954-55): 579-600.
- P.W. "Editorial Comment: Civilizations and their Diseases, and Rebuilding a Wrecked World Civilization." Calif West Med 47:6 (December 1937):367-368. Review of Widney's book of the same name.
- Raup, H. F. "Transformation of Southern California to a Cultivated Land." Annals of the Association of American Geographers 49:3 Part 2: Man, Time and Space in Southern California: A Symposium (September 1959): 58-78.
- Redway, Jacques W. "The Vagaries of the Colorado River." Scottish Geographical Journal 23:7 (July 1907): 360-363. Discusses Widney's proposal to irrigate the inland.
- Reinle, George G. "Report of the Committee on the Report of the Council and the Secretary-Treasurer". Calif West Med. 49:1 (July 1938):69–91. Page 91 contains recommendation and rationale for election of Widney as a Life Member of the California State Medical Association.
- "School Named for Doctor Widney". Calif West Med. 50:4 (April 1939):302–310. See page 302 for reprint of article in LA Times (10 March 1939) reporting the renaming of the Crippled Children's High School the Dr. Joseph Pomeroy Widney High School.
- Shipek, Florence C. "A Native American Adaptation to Drought: The Kumeyaay as Seen in the San Diego Mission Records 1770-1798." Ethnohistory 28:4 (Autumn 1981): 295-312. References Widney's 1873 article on the Colorado Desert.
- Shoemaker, Harlan; Joseph M. King; and John W. Shuman. "Obituary". Calif West Med49:2 (August 1938): 154–163. See page 160 for an extensive obituary of Dr Widney (including photo of elderly Widney).
- Society for the Advancement of Education. "Intellect". School and Society. (1978):78. Focuses on Widney.
- Splitter, Henry Winfred. "Literature in Los Angeles before 1900." Journal of the West (January 1966).
- Stearns, Robert E.C. "Remarks on Fossil Shells from the Colorado Desert." The American Naturalist 13:3 (March 1879): 141-154. Mentions Widney. Dr. Widney, in Overland Monthly 10. (See also various papers on Arizona, and the Colorado river, in Vols. 4, 6, and 9)
- Thompson, Kenneth. "Irrigation as a Menace to Health in California: A Nineteenth Century View." Geographical Review 59:2 (April 1969):195-214. Refers to Widney.
- "Truisms: From the Pen of the Late Joseph P. Widney, Founder of the Los Angeles County Medical Association". Calif West Med. 49:6 (December 1938):490–493. Page 490 lists pithy sayings of Widney.
- Vance, James E., Jr. "California and the Search for the Ideal." Annals of the Association of American Geographers 62:2 (June 1972):185–210.
- Warren, Louis S. "Buffalo Bill Meets Dracula: William F. Cody, Bram Stoker, and the Frontiers of Racial Decay". The American Historical Review 107:4 (October 2002): References Joseph P. Widney's Race Life of the Aryan Peoples, 2 vols. (New York, 1907), 1: 10–25.
- Winther, Oscar Osburn. "The Use of Climate as a Means of Promoting Migration to Southern California." The Mississippi Valley Historical Review 33:3 (December 1946):411-424. Discusses Widney's books promoting California. See pages 422-424 especially.
- Wisniewska-Jones, Deborah. "Ethnobotany". Cactus Factus [Toronto Cactus & Succulent Club newsletter](1999)
Newspaper and magazine articles
- "The Anti-Chinese Riot." Los Angeles Times (23 July 1888):2. Widney, who had taken an active role in quelling the riot, corrects the account of the 1871 Anti-Chinese Riot recorded in volume 35 of Bancroft's History. He indicates that the Chinese started the disturbance, that it was pre-meditated, that they were "crazy drunk with opium". Widney indicated that those who retaliated by hanging some of the Chinese were "composed of the rough elements of the town and were very inflammable". Widney indicated that "[a]s soon as the better class of citizens found out the true state of the case", that a group led by his brother, Judge Robert M Widney (and including himself) stopped the riot, placed Chinese in protective custody, ensured their protection and also of their property, and deplored the mis-treatment of the Chinese.
- "Anti-Saloon." Los Angeles Times (8 November 1887):8. Widney re-elected unanimously as chairman of the anti-saloon committee. Widney, who self-identifies himself as a Republican, indicated that the committee was "not a third party prohibition movement, but is an uprising of the temperance people, without regard to creed or politics, for the purpose of overthrowing the saloons." Widney calls for "aggressive temperance work" and sees the saloon as "the greatest [evil] of all." The committee resolved to elect a slate of anti-saloon members to the Los Angeles City Council.
- "At the Churches: Baccalaureate Sermon at the University." Los Angeles Times (25 June 1894). Report of USC President Dr Widney's baccalaureate sermon of the University of Southern California in the university chapel.
- Badger, Retta. "The White Man Marches On!" Los Angeles Times (21 April 1935):J6, J13. Widney believes "The brown man will never rule the earth. It is the white man's world and always will be."(J6) Widney believed USA and Japan would never fight each other, but that Japan would eventually absorb the East Indies (Indonesia) and the Philippines, while withdrawing from Manchukuo. He indicates the League of Nations failed because it ignored race lines and race problems. Widney advocated American isolation from European wars, and advocated European debt be cancelled in exchange for European territory in the Guianas. Widney was opposed to "the dole" for hungry people. He believed starvation would force hungry people to work.
- "Becoming Paganized: Dr. Widney Speaks of a Danger That Threatens Cities, at the Ministers' Meeting." Los Angeles Times (11 September 1900). Report of Widney's address to the Methodist ministers on the need for city missions. Widney said: "Our problem is not so much how to Christianize pagan lands as how to prevent the nominally Christian" from being paganized.
- Brennan, Paul. "The Last Bear: Teddy Roosevelt, race suicide and the killing of Orange County's last grizzly." The Orange County Weekly (16 October 2003). Discusses Widney's racial views.
- "Builders of the Commonwealth." Touring Topics 24 (May 1932): 17.
- "Built His Church." Los Angeles Times (4 June 1900):17. Report of the new Nazarene Methodist Episcopal Church at Ninth and Santee Streets, pastored by Widney and financed out of his own resources. Widney is described as "an extensive property owner in this city."
- Carter, Boake. "Truisms: From the Pen of the Late Joseph P. Widney, Founder of the Los Angeles County Medical Association." Los Angeles Examiner (November 17, 1938). Some reprinted in California and Western Medicine 49:6 (December 1938):490. Contains quotations extracted from Widney's Race Life of the Aryan People (1907).
- Carr, Harry. "The Lancer: A Forgotten Book." Los Angeles Times (28 May 1925):A1. Laments neglect of Widney's Race Life of the Aryan Peoples.
- Carr, Harry. "The Lancer." Los Angeles Times (3 November 1932). Promotes Widney's book on the evolution of religion. Carr describes it as "a brilliant and--at times--breathtaking book on comparative religions. Its crisp sentences both sing and sting. Very much a remarkable achievement."
- Carter, Michael S. "Diverse From the First". Daily Trojan 135:17 (September 28 1998)
- "Caucuses and Primaries: Meeting of the Committee of One Hundred Called." Los Angeles Times (1 April 1894). Report of meeting held by the Citizens' League on 24 March 1894, involving Dr Widney.
- "Celebrate Jubilee Of Medical Body: County Association Holds Banquet To Honor Fiftieth Anniversary." Los Angeles Times (1st February 1921). Reports Banquet celebrating 50th anniversary of the LACMA. Widney honoured.
- "Chautauqans." Los Angeles Times (29 July 1887):3. Indicates Widney was lecturing on the superiority of the Teutonic peoples, and warning of the dangers of miscegenation with "inferior" races. He argues that the Aryans are the only race in the modern world capable of self-government.
- "Church to a New Field." Los Angeles Times (28 November 1906):II 10. Re: Relocation of Bethel ME Church (pastored by Widney) to Marmion Way.
- Cooper, Charles. "USC Med School founder was doctor, mystic'" Highland Park News-Herald (7 March 1981): 1, A2.
- "Crossing the Bar." Los Angeles Times (6 July 1938). Report on Widney's funeral.
- Cutter, Dean William D. "The University of Southern California: Under the Direction of Dean Rockwell Hunt." Los Angeles Times (15 February 1930). Discusses History of USC esp. medical school and its founding by Widney.
- "Death of Mrs Widney." Los Angeles Times (11 March 1903):12. Details of death of Mrs Mary Bray Widney.
- "Death Takes Dr. Widney: Educator and Civic Leader, 97, Sucuumbs After Brief Illness." Los Angeles Times (5 July 1938):A1, 2.
- "Deep-Sea Harbor." Los Angeles Times (9 September 1892). Report of meeting held at the LA Chamber of Commerce to hear presentations on the relative merits of developing harbors at San Pedro, Redondo or Santa Monica. Widney advocates for San Pedro.
- "The Division." Los Angeles Times (9 December 1888):2. Report of meeting held to discuss creation of a separate state of Southern California. Dr Widney is one of the main proponents.
- "Dr J.P. Widney at Milestone: Member of U.S.C. Founder Group 90 Years of Age Many Relatives and Friends Guests at Celebration Plans-for Three New Books Revealed at Festivities." Los Angeles Times (27 December 1931). Reports Celebration of Widney's 90th birthday.
- "Dr. J. P. Widney on the Colorado Desert." Los Angeles Times (22 September 1891). Updates Widney's arguments to divert the Colorado River to create an inland sea.
- "Dr Widney's Life Eulogized." Los Angeles Times (7 July 1938):A 18. Details of Widney's funeral.
- "Dr Widney's Poems." Los Angeles Times (9 January 1910):II 5. Announces publication of book of 9 poems by Widney.
- "Dr Widney, 97, Co-Founder of SC, Sinking in Illness." Los Angeles Times (4 July 1938).
- "Dr Widney Reaches 95: Declares Man Dies When He Loses His Interest in Life." Los Angeles Times (27 December 1936). Widney is quoted: "When a man loses interest in life, life loses interest in him. And when that happens, he dies."
- "Dr Widney Still Writing Books at 94 Years of Age." Los Angeles Times (27 December 1935):A1, A3. Areticle reveals Widney's secrets for a long life, and his writing plans until age 100.
- "Dr. Widney's Funeral Today." Los Angeles Times (6 July 1938):A 18.
- "The East Side: Reception to Rev. Mr. Bresee--Pink Tea Party--Personals". Los Angeles Times (17 October 1890).
- "Elysian Park for University." Los Angeles Times (8 February 1911):II 6. Widney's recommendation re new university for LA.
- "Evening Session." Los Angeles Times (16 January 1889). Report of meeting of the LA Chamber of Commerce. Widney is appointed temporary chairman.
- "Ex-U.S.C. Head Critically Ill: Joseph P. Widney, College Co-Founder, Believed Near Death." Los Angeles Times (3 July 1938).
- Finley, Harold M. "The Passing Show." Los Angeles Times (10 July 1938):A 5. Widney described as "a man of distinguished accomplishment in literary, educational, scientific and religious circles."
- "Good Medicine and Good Records". Los Angeles Times (31 January 2006). Discusses history of LACMA and Widney's role.
- "It was a Success: Annual Banquet of the Chamber of Commerce." Los Angeles Times (26 February 1893). Banquet celebrating the fifth anniversary of the LA Chamber of Commerce, and Widney's involvement.
- Kentle, Jean B. "Pioneer Families of Los Angeles - the Widneys." Saturday Night (9 May 1931): 6.
- "Memorial to Congress for Funds for Wilmington Harbor." Los Angeles Times (17 January 1882).
- "Monday's Medley of Local Happenings Worth Reading About." Los Angeles Times (28 October 1890) Account of meeting of Prohibitionists involving Dr Widney.
- "Monrovia." Los Angeles Times (26 March 1887):3. Reports "Dr. Widney, of Fulton Wells, is in Monrovia seeking health."
- "New Denomination." Los Angeles Times (7 October 1895):6. Report of the initial service of the Church of the Nazarene led by Widney and Dr Phineas Bresee. Indicates that Bresee was "frozen out" of the Peniel Mission by the Fergusons, and that Widney and hundreds of followers were to join Bresee in the formation of a new denomination.
- "New Medical School: Impressive Ceremonies at the Corner-Stone Laying." Los Angeles Times (10 October 1895). Account of the commencement of construction of the Los Angeles Medical and Surgical Institute's new college building at 737-739 Buena Vista Street. Widney was dean of the College of Medicine and proprietor of the Aliso Street building where the USC School of Medicine had met since its inception in 1885.
- "A New Mission." Los Angeles Times (21 October 1895):6. Report of the organization of the Church of the Nazarene, with Widney preaching the morning sermon. Widney explained the significance of the denominational name and gave a rationale for a new denomination.
- "The New Mission". Los Angeles Times (10 July 1894):3. Report of the ceremony involving laying of the corner stone for the new building to be erected for the Los Angeles Mission on Main Street (between Second and Third streets). Widney and Dr Phineas Bresee are prominent in the service and the Mission, founded in 1886 by Theodore and Manie Ferguson. Widney indicated "we are building a fortress for civilization and Christianity in the heart of this city."
- "No Unanimity of Sentiment." Los Angeles Times (15 January 1911):II 8. Widney supports call for new state university in LA. Suggests Elysian Park location.
- "Oddities in Construction." Los Angeles Times (22 October 1907):II 9. Re: Unique design of Widney's Bethel Mission.
- "Participants in Founders' Day Program: Duties Told to Trojans Dr. Widney, ex-Head of U.S.C., Warns Students of Broken Civilization." Los Angeles Times (1 October 1936). Reports Widney's address to USC graduating class.
- "Pastor of Unique Church." Los Angeles Times (6 January 1924):A1. Feature article on Widney, his religious views and Bethel Chapel.
- "Rev. Dowie." Los Angeles Times (22 June 1889):5. Report of speech made by John Alexander Dowie at The Pavilion. Dowie attacks Widney for an article he wrote in the Christian Advocate indicating St Matthew had erred, accusing Widney of "limited scholarship and lack of faith."
- "San Pedro Harbor." Los Angeles Times (8 May 1892). Report of meeting at the LA Chamber of Commerce called to urge increased appropriations from the US Congress for the development of the San Pedro Harbor, including an address by Dr Widney.
- "San Pedro Harbor: Mass-meeting at the Chamber of Commerce. United Action Urged to Secure an Adequate Appropriation. Representatives from All Sections of the County in Attendance. Speeches by Dr. J.P. Widney, Abbot Kinney, Senator McComas, Mr. Buchanan and Others--Memorial to Congress." Los Angeles Times (18 December 1892).
- Scherer, J.C. "Scattering Places." Los Angeles Times (2 January 1887):11. Reports Widney's resort at Iron-Sulphur Springs in 1887.
- "Sculptor, His Work and Honored Guest." Los Angeles Times (12 May 1937):A 12. Reports unveiling of bust of Widney sculpted by Dr Emil Seletz.* "Surcrease for Indigents' Ills". Los Angeles Times (17 June 1904):7. Announces Widney's involvement in dedication of new building for USC School of Medicine.
- "S.C. Receives Dr. Widney's Library of 1693 Volumes." Los Angeles Times (29 October 1939):A 6. Details of 1693 volumes donated by Dr Widney to USC.
- "Smog Problem Seen 20 Years Ago by SC Man." Los Angeles Times (3 April 1955):A 13. Widney's 1938 predictions of dangers of smog in LA (5 years before first serious smog episode in LA history).
- "South California." Los Angeles Times (11 July 1887):1-2. Reprints parts of Widney's January 1881 article in The Californian arguing for the bifurcation of California, and the creation of a separate state of Southern California for geographical, climatical, political and economic reasons.
- Sunday Closing: A Big Meeting at Hazard's Pavilion." Los Angeles Times (2 June 1890). Report of meeting attended by 4,000 people, in which Dr Widney was elected president of the committee to ensure saloons were closed on Sundays.
- "Tablet Unveiled at S.C. as Memorial to Dr Widney." Los Angeles Times (8 December 1938):A 2. Details of memorial service held at USC to remember Widney. USC President R.B. Von KleinSmid described Widney: "Dr. Widney towered above the locality in which he lived....Men of vision, men of power, and men of sacrificial spirit prove their right to lead - Dr. Widney was one of these."
- Tink, Fletcher L. "Discovering Disability in Our Genes". Compassionate Lifestyle Nazarene Compassionate Ministries
- "Tribute Paid Dr. Widney: Graduate of State's Early Medical School Honored by Journal." Los Angeles Times (6 September 1936). Reports articles about Widney in the California and Western Journal of Medicine.
- Turner, Timothy G. "Our Grand Old Man." Los Angeles Times (2 May 1937):I3, 10. Feature profile of Widney with detailed biographical information, and his views on the decline of civilisation.
- Turner, Timothy G. "Rediscovering Los Angeles." Los Angeles Times (18 May 1936):A1. Features Aliso Street property where USC held first medical classes.
- "Unity Club Lectures." Los Angeles Times (10 November 1892). Report of the first of three lectures to be given at the church on the corner of Hill and Third Streets involving Dr Widney.
- "The University: Opening of the Chapel Wednesday." Los Angeles Times (23 September 1886):0_2. USC Chapel opened.
- Van De Water, Marjorie. "Will the Aged Rule America?" Los Angeles Times (19 April 1936):H3,14, 29.Article looks at changing US demographics. Widney is mentioned as an example of the increasing life span and implications for US economy.
- Ward, Jean. "Neurosurgeon-Sculptor Will Show His Bronze, Plaster Art." Los Angeles Times (5 February 1967):WS 10. Details of exhibition of Emil Seletz's sculptures, including his bust of Widney.
- "Water Front." Los Angeles Times (15 January 1882):0_2. Details of Widney's memorial to the US Congress requesting additional funding to develop the harbor at Wilmington.
- "What is the Destiny of America?" Los Angeles Times (3 May 1931):J7, J10. In this article, Widney advances the thesis that "climate makes race history"(J10). He believes the Aryan will displace the Aztec, and that perhaps within 20 years the territory from Mexico to Panama would be under American control. He advocates the merger of Canada with the United States of America (under the American flag).
- Whitaker, Alma. "Early Society Here Recalled." Los Angeles Times (3 September 1933). Widney's participation in early LA Society.
- "Widney Paid Last Honor: Pioneer Judge Eulogized by Brother as 200 Friends Gather at Flower-Covered Bier." Los Angeles Times (17 November 1929). Reports funeral of Robert M Widney and eulogy by Dr Joseph Widney.
- "The Widney Reception: A Brilliant Gathering on Hill Street Last Evening." Los Angeles Times (21 April 1887). Describes the annual reception Dr and Mrs Widney held in the "spacious parlors of Dr. J. P. Widney's large residence, near the corner of Hill and Fourth streets" where "the faculty, trustees and medical" students of USC were invited.
- "Widney Will Shows Keen Mind Despite 96 Years." Los Angeles Times (15 July 1938):A 3. Report gives details of Widney's will. His estate is worth $200,000. Leaves money to the descendants of 4 of his siblings, his library to USC, plus $6,000 to publish his unprinted books and distribute them free to "the great reading rooms and colleges and universities of both America and Europe." Widney indicates that "I have never written for money....My sole purpose has been to reach and influence the thinking minds of the world."
- "Wilmington Harbor." Los Angeles Times (28 December 1881):0_3. Widney described as "the principal mover in this important matter."
- "Wilmington Harbor." Los Angeles Times (14 November 1888):2. Report of Widney's report as chairman of the citizen's harbor Committee to a joint meeting of the Los Angeles Board of Trade and the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce. He indicates that a further $4 million is needed to deepen the San Pedro harbor, and gets approval to request $1 million a year from the US congress until the harbor is completed.
- Young, Bob and Jan. "Saint or Sinner?" Desert Magazine (June 1965):6-7. See page 7 for reference to Widneyville.
Theses and dissertations
- Elias, Judith W. "The Selling of a Myth: Los Angeles Promotional Literature, 1885-1915." M.A. thesis, California State University, Northridge, 1979.
- Gates, Samuel Eugene. "History of the University of Southern California: 1900-1928." Masters Thesis, 1929.
- Gay, Leslie F., Jr. "History of the University of Southern California." Masters Thesis, 1910.
- Potter, Edward Lawrence. The Widney Family. 1966; reprinted Nazarene: 1987. "First international archives project of the Church of the Nazarene.". Reprinted by the Church of the Nazarene, 1987.. Thesis (M.A.)--Los Angeles : University of Southern California, 1966.. Bibliography: leaves -130.
- Rudy, Allan Patterson. "Environmental Conditions, Negotiations and Crises: The Political Economy of Agriculture in the Imperial Valley of California, 1850-1993." Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation. University of California, Santa Cruz, CA, 1995. Discusses the importance of Widney's views regarding recreating the Salton Sea.