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Archives and Collections
The Automobile Club of Southern California was founded in 1900, and the records of its undertakings provide a distinctive picture of life in the region during the twentieth century. The documents and pictorial materials in the club’s archive relate not only to the club’s history but also to local and regional architecture, infrastructure, public policy making, and cultural and recreational history. The charting and mapping of Southern California’s roads began in 1906. The club’s archive contains original vellum renderings of strip maps and road maps, as well as printed maps made from these renderings, for the period 1906 to the present. These maps offer a continuous, definitive record of the development of roadways and roadside services in the region. Since 1909, the club has published a monthly magazine focused on automotive tourism. The archived issues of Touring Topics and its successor, Westways, provide a chronicle of landscapes and destinations which includes extensive photographic coverage of the deserts and coastal regions of California, the national parks of the American West, and Hawaii. The club began to participate in discussions about transportation policy in 1909. Its activities in this area have involved independent provision of planning studies as well as commentary on public policies and programs. In 1922 the Automobile Club produced the first traffic survey of Los Angeles, and in 1937 it wrote the first detailed proposal for a regionwide freeway system. The working files for these projects constitute a rich source of material on the region. A substantial portion of the holdings documents the workings—from the board of directors to daily operations in dozens of district offices—of the Automobile Club itself.