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Dr. Sue Earnest Papers

Identifier: MS-0454

Scope and Contents

The Dr. Sue Earnest Papers document the career and personal interests of Dr. Sue Earnest at San Diego State University and in the greater San Diego community. The collection highlights in particular Earnest's dissertation research, her career as a professor of speech pathology at San Diego State, her community work following her retirement, as well as her great personal interest in foreign travel. It dates from 1848 to 2007, with the majority of materials dating from 1925-2007, and consists of correspondence, diaries, scrapbooks, postcards, photographs, annual reports, theater production scripts and news clippings. The collection consists of two major series, Personal Files and Professional Files. The Personal Files consist of two sub-series: Diary and Scrapbooks and Travel Files. The Professional Files consist of three sub-series Theater Files, Speech Clinic Files and San Diego State Files.

The Personal Files (1925-2007) include two sub-series, Diary and Scrapbook (1925-2007), and Travel Files (1948-1990). The Diary and Scrapbook series documents Earnest's school activities and personal life during college; materials are filed in chronological order. Much of the early courtship between Sue and her future husband Lester Earnest is documented as well as Earnest's 100th birthday celebration. Highlights include photographs and correspondence from former colleagues and friends at San Diego State given to Earnest for her 100th birthday. The Travel Files document Earnest's numerous domestic and foreign travels. It includes itineraries, correspondence, photographs, maps, postcards, brochures, three journals, one each from Australia/New Zealand, Japan and Russia. The files are in alphabetical order by country name.

The Professional Files include three sub-series: Theater Files (1848-1950), Naval Hospital Clinic Files (1971-2005), and San Diego State Files (1950-2000). The Theater Files document Earnest's dissertation research on early theater in Southern California. It also documents the productions she adapted and produced while teaching at Memorial Junior High School and the production she co-authored for the California Centennial. The sub-series consists of notecards, photographs, a scrapbook, correspondence, news clippings, original scripts, programs, and sheet music. Notecards are subdivided topically and all materials are alphabetical. The Naval Hospital Clinic Files document Earnest's work with the Speech and Hearing Clinic at the Naval Hospital in Balboa Park and contain a notebook commemorating the opening of the clinic, correspondence, photographs, news clippings and brochures. The San Diego State Files document Earnest's work with the Speech and Hearing Clinic on campus and her work with organizations and associations at San Diego State following her retirement. Included are summaries and reports on the status of the San Diego State University Clinic, correspondence, certificates, awards, vitas, programs, from the Alumni Association, Mortar Board, Homecoming Gala's, pre-1950's reunion, sororities, Friends of the Library and the San Diego State Faculty Retirement Association. San Diego State University Clinic materials are filed alphabetically, organizations and association materials are filed alphabetically.


  • 1848-2007
  • Majority of material found in 1925-2007


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in some or all of these materials have not been transferred to San Diego State University. Copyright resides with the creator(s) of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. The nature of archival collections is such that multiple creators are often applicable and copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine. In any case, the user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, obtaining publication rights and copyright infringement. When requesting images from Special Collections & University Archives for publication, we require a signed agreement waiving San Diego State University of any liability in the event of a copyright violation.

Biographical Note

Dr. Sue Earnest (nee Wolfer) was born September 19, 1906 in North Dakota. Her family moved to San Diego when she was four, where she spent most of her life. Earnest received a B.A in 1928 from San Diego State College, as well as an M.A. in 1938 and a Ph.D in 1947 from the University of Southern California.

Earnest married her college sweetheart, Lester Earnest, in 1928. After teaching in local elementary schools, Earnest joined the faculty at Memorial Junior High School in 1934 and taught speech, public address, drama and speech therapy. She adapted and produced six plays during the nine years she spent at Memorial Junior High.

Dr. Earnest joined the faculty at San Diego State College in 1947 as an assistant professor in the English and Psychology departments. In 1948 she became an Associate Professor in the Speech Department and made full professor in 1954. The Speech Arts Department encompassed four areas, Dramatic Arts, Speech Communication, Speech Pathology, Audiology, and Telecommunications and Film. From approximately 1959-1965 Earnest held a special leadership role as professor in charge of Speech Pathology and Audiology. She chaired the Speech Arts department in 1959-1960 and then again from 1970 until her retirement in 1973.

Earnest saw the department through two accreditations, and contributed countless hours of service to San Diego State through a variety of campus organizations after her retirement. Earnest founded the Speech and Hearing Clinic and was the director from 1953-1967. Her work and service inspired many who went on to work in the SDSU and San Diego communities.

Earnest's contributions to the community and San Diego State after her retirement in 1973 are numerous. Her direction at the Speech and Hearing Clinic led to the development of a Speech and Hearing Center for the military at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Balboa Park. She was involved in various organizations, serving as president of the SDSU Alumni Association in 1940, of which she was a lifetime board member after 1948. She organized the first pre-1950's class reunion and located over 700 past alumni in the "lost alumni" campaign. The SDSU Alumni and Associates awarded Earnest in 1973 with the Distinguished Alumnus Award and again in 1998 with the Distinguished Alumni Service award.

Her involvement in the Mortar Board began in 1950, and prior to her retirement she was Mortar Board's faculty adviser for five years, facilitating the San Diego State Chapter's association with the National Board. In July 2000 the trustees of the National Mortar Board Foundation awarded Earnest as the sixth Distinguished Lifetime Board Member. In 1985 Earnest spearheaded the establishment of the SDSU Faculty and Staff Retirement Association. She was also a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, Pi Kappa Delta (debate), Zeta Phi Eta (speech) and Phi Beta Delta.

Throughout her life, Dr. Earnest traveled the U.S. and all over the world. The list of countries she traveled in include the United States, Australia, Austria, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Sicily, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Russia, Scandinavia, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, Yugoslavia, and Indonesia. She passed away on November 8, 2007.


26.46 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

I. Personal Files

1. Diary and Scrapbook

2. Travel Files

a. Journals / Personal Notes

b. Postcards

c. Country files


d. Photographs

II. Professional Files

1. Theater Files

a. Dissertation Research

b. Memorial Junior High Scrapbook

c. Theatrical Production Files

d. News clippings

e. Photographs

2. Naval Hospital Clinic Files

3. San Diego State University Files

a. San Diego State University Speech and Hearing Clinic

b. San Diego State University Organizations and Associations

Source of Acquisition

Lester Earnest

Accruals and Additions

2008-005, 2009-062, 2010-042

Dr. Sue Earnest Papers
Emily Floyd
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections & University Archives Repository

5500 Campanile Dr. MC 8050
San Diego CA 92182-8050 US