Archives and Collections
The Santa Monica Historical Society was founded in 1975 as part of the city’s centennial celebration with the mission of collecting and preserving the history, art and culture of the Santa Monica Bay Area. In 1988, a Museum was established to house the Society’s growing collections of artifacts, documents, rare books, newspapers, textiles, artwork, and photographic images. Currently, the Museum’s Image Archives comprise over 500,000 photographs and negatives depicting the local history of Santa Monica, Ocean Park, Santa Monica Canyon, Pacific Palisades, Malibu, Venice and Marina del Rey. The Outlook Newspaper Collection, one of the Museum’s primary holdings, consists of newspapers in hardcopy and on microfilm, extensive files by people and subject headings, and an estimated 400,000 photographs and negatives. Operating from 1875 at the time of the city’s founding until 1998 when the publication ceased its operations, the daily newspaper covered local, regional, state and national events. With an award-winning staff of professional photographers, the newspaper produced a significant archive of images that comprehensively portray the cultural, political and social life of the Santa Monica Bay Area communities. In addition, the archive contains images of major events taking place in the greater Los Angeles area, including cultural affairs, politics, features, sports, celebrities, presidential visits and conventions, the Los Angeles riots and earthquakes, fires and floods. The Museum also houses the collections of Outlook Newspaper photographers Bill Beebe, consisting of approximately 75,000 images from the 1930s to the 1960s, and Bob Smith, consisting of approximately 6,000 images from the 1960s to the 1990s. The Museum’s Image Archives also include publisher Diane Margolin’s City Scene images, the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce Collection and the Museum’s extensive collection of early Santa Monica photographs.