L.A. as Subject is a research alliance dedicated to preserving and improving access to the archival material of Los Angeles history. Much of the city’s history is preserved in libraries, museums, and other cultural institutions. Other valuable and unique collections – those that reveal the stories of neighborhoods, families, and influential Angelenos – are scattered across Southern California, curated by smaller institutions and individual enthusiasts. With an online directory of more than 230 separate collections, L.A. as Subject ensures that researchers know what materials are available, where they are located, and how to access them.
L.A. as Subject’s biggest undertaking is the annual Los Angeles Archives Bazaar, a congregation of members that brings their unique collections together into one place. The event allows scholars, researchers, archivists, librarians, students, and history enthusiasts to browse the broad collections of the alliance’s members.
In addition to the annual Los Angeles Archives Bazaar, members also meet every two months at the Archives Forum. The meetings allow members to network with others in the profession and share best practices. Held in a different location each time, the Archives Forum allows participants to see how other members’ collections are organized and observe different preservation methods.
The Archives Forum was originally convened in 1997 by the Getty Research Institute as the LA as Subject Advisory Forum to support the work of its four-year research project, L.A. as Subject (1995–1999). The Advisory Forum produced the landmark print publication Cultural Inheritance/L.A.: A Directory of Less-Visible Archives and Collections in the Los Angeles Region (Getty Research Institute, 1999) and simultaneously released a companion online database. The directory provides detailed descriptions of the archives and collections of over 175 regional institutions. The companion online database was transferred to the University of Southern California’s Archival Research Center in 2000 and is now updated and published online. The Advisory Forum changed in name in 2004 to the LA as Subject Archives Forum.