Monomania L.A.: The Obsessive Collectors of Southern California

What happens when collecting becomes more than a hobby? File cabinets conquer living rooms. Boxes scrape the ceilings of garages. A trip to a paper ephemera show becomes a grail quest. Even dumpsters offer the promise of a new acquisition.

Such collectors perform a tremendous service to scholars and the public by focusing so precisely on a particular slice of Los Angeles history. Often they document subjects overlooked by others and in more meaningful detail, becoming uniquely qualified to interpret their respective areas of interest. Countless historians, journalists, and other researchers have built their work on the foundation of these collectors’ single-minded focus.

Through a series of short documentary films available online and broadcast by KCET-TV, and with the generous support of Cal Humanities, Monomania L.A. profiles four L.A. as Subject collectors who turned their private obsession into a public resource. These monomaniacs have documented disparate subjects—the California orange, sci-fi reading circles, political graphics, the Santa Monica beach—but their stories share one thing in common: a passion for history that has enriched our understanding of Southern California’s past.

See the films here on the L.A. as Subject website.