Avery Clayton Spirit Award

Avery Clayton (1947-2009), founder of the Mayme A. Clayton Library and longtime active member of LA as Subject, was a consummate gentleman and gifted colleague devoted to the ideals of the archival profession. His passionate dedication, unceasing enthusiasm, endless curiosity and unvarying kindness to friend and stranger alike define him as a man with class in the highest and best sense of the word.

Avery’s mission to “bring it to the world” with reference to the premiere collection of African American history assembled by his mother, Mayme A. Clayton, embodied many of the aspirations and goals that he shared with the greater archival community.  This mission also reflects the mission of LA as Subject, to identify, preserve, and disseminate the primary sources for the cultural, economic, ethnic, political, and social history of the Los Angeles region. In recognition of his life’s work, the Avery Clayton Spirit Award was established by the LA as Subject Executive Committee in 2010.  The recipient of this annual award is any institution, organization or individual that embodies Avery’s spirit of dedication and energy  in working to identify, preserve, and share LA and Southern California history.

See announcement about the 2020 Avery Clayton Spirit Award recipient.


Avery Clayton Award Winners, 2010-2019

2010: Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum
L.A. as Subject members also honored the late Avery Clayton at the reception. Clayton, who died last November, was executive director of the Mayme A. Clayton Library & Museum, which preserves one of the largest archives related to African-American history. Kenneth W. McGuire, chair of the L.A. as Subject Executive Committee, presented the first-annual Avery Clayton Memorial Award to Avery's brother Lloyd Clayton, who is also the museum's chairman; and to Larry Earl, the museum's interim executive director.

2011: Carol Wells
Founder and Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics

2012: Cynni Murphy
Cynni Murphy has devoted her life to preserving and promoting local history of the Santa Monica Bay area. During her career at Santa Monica Public Library (1977-2012), she was the prime force in advocating for and developing the library’s Image Archives.  She began with a few boxes of prints and negatives.  Today these materials, and much more, are showcased in Imagine Santa Monica (http://digital.smpl.org ), a contentDM-based-web site boasting over 8000 digitized images. She showed foresight and intelligence by shepherding the Library’s photographic collections through a series of now obsolete digital incarnations, whilst steadfastly preserving the original images.  This work exponentially expanded access to the collection while safeguarding the originals. Cynni is well-known to be a gracious, enthusiastic and effective networker, having made presentations to community groups too numerous to mention.  She also made sure Santa Monica Public Library joined L.A. as Subject upon its inception. Her stewardship on the LA as Subject Executive Committee for many years set an impressive example.  Her strong community ties resulted in substantial donations to Imagine Santa Monica, most notably the inclusion of the Pacific Palisades Historical Society’s collection of over 3000 images.  Her contributions have done very much to enhance the resources and services available to local history enthusiasts throughout Southern California.

2013: Wally Shidler
Wally Shilder has been amassing his “Historical Collection of Southern California Ephemera” since he was a teenager.  He is a third generation Angeleno and his interest in history was piqued by his grandmother who used to take him Downtown to revel on the historic buildings that lined the streets. Wally’s long-time commitment to government and local groups is another testament to his dedication to the development and preservation of history.  He is a nominated or appointed member of the Los Angeles Country Metropolitan Transportation Authority Gateway Cities Governance Council, METRO’s Citizen Advisory Committee, Board of Directors of the Walnut Park Mutual Water Company, and the Huntington Park Historic Preservation Commission. He was also a major contributor to the Arcadia Publication, Images of American, Huntington Park. As written in a 2006 Los Angeles Times article, Wally “delights in the everyday items other people discard, be it an outdated telephone directory or a PTA pamphlet. With these scavenged bits of ephemera, Shidler is creating a mosaic of his life’s passion: the history of Southern California.”

2014: Ernest “Ernie” Marquez
In this land of newcomers and transplants, Ernest Marquez can trace his California lineage back further than most. Born in 1924 on land that the Mexican government granted to his great-grandparents in 1839, Marquez has devoted much of his life to documenting a family history that began in 1771, when his great-great-grandfather Francisco Reyes arrived here as a soldier in the Spanish army. Since he began his research decades ago, Marquez has amassed a trove of more than 4,600 photographs—now part of the collections of the Huntington Library—that show the transformation of his family’s Rancho Boca de Santa Monica into the coastal communities we know today as Pacific Palisades and Santa Monica.

2015: Karen Stokes
Karen Stokes, the Getty Research Institute senior development specialist who founded LA as Subject, recently received the Avery Clayton Spirit Award from the LA as Subject Archives Forum and the USC Libraries for her role in the project.

2016: Florante Ibanez
Florante Ibanez ia a scholar, activist, librarian, archivist, family man, and proud grand-parent. This person has dedicated his life working with diverse communities and promoting their history, especially in relation to Historic Filipinotown an area designated in 2002 by Los Angeles Mayor (then Councilman) Eric Garcetti, in Echo Park. This year’s award recipient is also a member of numerous professional library and archive organizations that allows him to keep a pulse on the opportunities that can assist in educating and supporting the communities he cares about… in fact, most of you might have an informative email in your inbox from this person announcing this event or that event or this opportunity or that opportunity.

2017: Sue Hodson
At the time of her retirement as Curator of Literary Manuscripts at the Huntington, Sue oversaw all British and American literature from the Renaissance to the present and became a well respected Jack London scholar. Though the breadth of the subjects of her work at the Huntington spans far beyond the confines of Los Angeles, the local impact of her work runs deep. A Huntington publication quoted Sue as saying, "Archivists operate in networks, and though we are often competitive for collections, we are also enthusiastic about helping one another." One of the greatest strengths of LA as Subject is in its ability to bring together people and institutions over the common goal of preserving and improving access to the archival material that tells the many faceted stories of Los Angeles. Sue's career exemplifies both the collaborative potential inherent in the archival world, and the passion necessary to bring to light previously overlooked stories from the archives.From the papers of science fiction writer Octavia E. Butler (born right up the 110 from here, in Pasadena) to Charles Bukowski (and his take on life in Los Angeles), Sue has worked to preserve collections of literary importance that tell a more inclusive narrative of our city. In addition to this, she also strengthened Huntington collections in other local areas, broadening documentation of theater and music in Los Angeles, including the papers of ballet instructor Joseph Rickard, founder of the First Negro Classical Ballet. It is particularly special to give this award to Sue, as she collaborated with Avery on several projects, including "Dreams Fulfilled,” which examined the artistic and cultural contributions of black Americans through a series of programs. With Avery, she also jointly curated an exhibition on the Harlem Renaissance in Los Angeles, which brought together collections from the Mayme A. Clayton Library and the Huntington.

2018: David Boule
David Boule dedicated over 35 years to collecting the story of the California orange. He then had the foresight to ensure that the fruits of his labors would be safely preserved and made accessible. His work is now available to researchers as the David Boule California Orange Collection at Claremont Colleges Library Special Collections.It was a lucky moment in time when Dave went with a friend to a paper ephemera show and became enchanted by a postcard of "snow capped mountains, a beautiful sky, a manicured orchard, a lovely home.” This visually ap-pealing image sparked his interest in the stories behind these enchanting visuals. His collection then grew exponentially from that initial postcard, to a thorough and thoughtfully collected documentation of the dream and the reality of California through the citrus growing industry. In addition to his zest for the story of the orange, Dave brought his passion and enthusiasm for local history to LA as Subject. He was featured in the LAAS video project Monomania, which profiled five LA as Subject collectors who turned their private obsession into a public resource. Rather than see his orange hued passion as a private venture, he saw the potential of his work as a public resource. He contributed to Archives Bazaar planning and programming for multiple years in a row, as well as his involvement with our Executive Committee. He served multiple terms on the Committee, and stewarded the County of Los Angeles formal proclamation recognizing LA as Subject’s 20th anniversary. He is always ready to roll up his sleeves, and near the end of his Executive Committee tenure, stepped up to take notes at meetings, and made sure that these were made available online.

2019: A break from the award to recognize the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum’s loss of space and the establishment of a tentatively titled Archives At Risk Committee
Each year at the close of the Archives Bazaar, we proudly take time at the reception to recognize and honor the role of a specific individual who kept Los Angeles memory alive in archival form. The Avery Clayton Spirit Award was established by the Executive Committee of LA as Subject in 2010. Avery Clayton was a long time active member of LA as Subject and founder of the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum, home to his mother Dr. Clayton's life work - a collection that preserves and shares the story of all aspects of the African-American experience. Unfortunately, the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum had to move out of its building in Culver City this summer. LA as Subject members answered the call to help pack up the book collection for their imminent move. Despite support letters and community protests earlier in the year, the Mayme Clayton’s collections had to be placed into storage, their archives and books awaiting a number of possible but unconfirmed futures. This unfortunate chain of events prompted questions: Did LA as Subject become involved too late? How can we be better partners to Los Angeles archival collections? The Executive Committee of LA as Subject decided that we would NOT award the Avery Clayton Spirit Award this year. We still wish to recognize Avery’s spirit of dedication, enthusiasm, energy, curiosity and generosity, but we also see the Mayme Clayton’s loss of space as a call to action. We want to recognize the challenges that they faced, as well as the challenges faced by other archival collection stewards.

2020: Guadalupe Rosales
Guadalupe Rosales was honored for her work documenting late 20th and early 21st century Latinx youth culture in Southern California. Her digital archives Veteranas & Rucas and Map Pointz, alongside companion physical archives, ensure that community memory is preserved and made accessible. Since 2015 Rosales has used Instagram as a platform to provide access and encourage dialogue. The use of an online platform is more timely than ever, as the digital realm has become a central connective space for many of us during the pandemic. This year is LA as Subject’s 25th anniversary, and as we look toward the future of community archives over the next twenty-five years, Rosales' work demonstrates the importance and possibilities for archival work as a shared, participatory process that centers the voice and identity of the community.