1848-1899

Los Angeles City Archives

In the Los Angeles City Archives are the official municipal government records of the City of Los Angeles, including city council files, city ordinances, and city council minutes. The archives also contain the records of cities that have consolidated with Los Angeles and are now considered communities.

California African American Museum

The California African American Museum collects, preserves, interprets, and displays materials that honor the contributions of African Americans to world history and culture. The museum’s art collection focuses on works created by African American artists from the 1800s to the present. It also includes traditional African art and contemporary art by those of the African Diaspora. The museum’s historical collection consists of documents, photographs, artifacts, and other material culture of African Americans, with an emphasis on documenting the experiences of African Americans in California and the American West from the late 1900s to the present. In the museum’s archival collection are books, periodicals, research materials, audio recordings, videos, vintage films, and other artifacts relating to African Americans. Materials specific to Los Angeles are found in the Miriam Matthews Photographic Collection, which contains images depicting African American subjects in Los Angeles from the 1880s to the 1970s collected by California’s first African American librarian; the Vassie D. Wright Collection, which consists of African American literary and historical works donated by the founder and the members of the local Our Authors Study Club; the Walter Burrell Collection, which comprises audio recordings of Burrell’s interviews with African American celebrities, which were broadcast by a local radio station in the early 1970s; and the oral histories collected from Celes King, a member of the family that owned the Dunbar Hotel, local civil rights activist, and former Tuskegee airman, and from John Outterbridge, a visual artist who has been based in Los Angeles since the 1960s and is renowned for his assemblages and for his mentoring of younger artists.

Ebell of Los Angeles

Yearbooks, newsletters and bulletins, scrapbooks describing club activities and philanthropic activities spanning the years from 1894 through the present. Furnishings, artworks including paintings and sculpture, clocks, textiles and costumes.

The Gilb Museum of Arcadia Heritage

The Gilb Museum of Arcadia Heritage was opened in 2001 and is named after its lead donors, Ruth and Charles Gilb. The Museum is maintained and operated by the City of Arcadia and houses artifacts and artwork representative of local Arcadia history and culture. The Museum presents seven individual interpretive exhibit spaces with both permanent and temporary exhibits as well as three off-site exhibits at City Hall, City Council Chambers and the Community Center. The main, permanent, gallery presents a chronology of Arcadia's history beginning with the Gabrieliño/Tongva (Native Americans indigenous to Arcadia) and works its way through the early American period with the rancho of Santa Anita, the story of Elias J. “Lucky” Baldwin and the beginning of the City of Arcadia. Also on display are artifacts and exhibits of Santa Anita Park, the Arcadia World War I Balloon School, the Santa Anita Japanese Assembly Center and Anita M. Baldwin. Two other permanent spaces are “Movie Magic: Arcadia in the Movies” and “Famous Arcadians.” Our Research Library houses temporary local history exhibits and displays of our archival collections. Research in our collections is by appointment only. In the Arcadia Veterans Local History Room the Museum presents a remembrance of Arcadians who have served in the military. This space houses the Arcadia Veterans Registry, where Veterans from all theatres are invited to add their personal information and photograph to the registry. In addition, the Museum houses the City’s Blue Star Registry and honors Operation Hometown Heroes. Our main temporary space rotates exhibits that share the many aspects of Arcadia's art and history. Past exhibits have included: “Tongva: Our Voice, Our History, Our People,” “Dreams and Delusions: The Surreal World of Dean Fleming,” “Only What We Could Carry: The Santa Anita Japanese Assembly Center,” “Traditional Silk and Silver Fashions of China's Minorities,” “Get Your Kicks on Route 66” and “Airships over Arcadia, WWI.” Temporary exhibits also include topics on community themes and an annual juried photography contest and exhibit. The Museum hosts educational family and adult programming in our Museum Education Center. On third Thursdays the Museum presents Lunchtime Talks with different speakers and topics each month from January through June and September through November. On selected months we present our Hands on Saturdays for Families program, which celebrates a variety of cultural themes bringing families together while educating and immersing in world cultures. Scout Days are presented throughout the year for local troops to come and earn their badges. We also offer educational school tours of the exhibits with an additional hands-on component. Lectures on local history are offered from an assortment of speakers and topics. Favorite lectures in the past have been on the Arcadia WWI Balloon School; Mount Lowe and Pancho Barnes’ connection to Arcadia; the life of Anita Baldwin; and the railroad system in Arcadia. Adult workshops have included working with genealogy, and the ongoing Preservation Series: The Personal Museum, when the Curator shares tips and knowledge about how to care for treasures in “personal museums” in each family home. There is also opportunity to share and record individual stories utilizing the Museum's oral history program: Write Your Own Reminiscence and a senior Those Were the Days Sing-a-Long. The Curator sets time aside each month for visitors to Ask the Curator about how to care for their family artifacts. Cultural programming is also a focal point in our programming. We have held demonstrations on skills such as flintknapping and have welcomed local Native Americans who share their culture of storytelling, native plants and basketweaving. The Museum opens in the evening, after hours, during the spring and summer for two special programs. Arcadia at the Movies delights guests as we watch and discuss movies that have been filmed in Arcadia. Our Spring Soirée offers an evening to relax under the stars with a significant local artist’s work, a wine and cheese reception and acoustic music. There is something for everyone at the Gilb Museum!

University of California, Riverside, California Museum of Photography

Images of Los Angeles and its communities are preserved in the collections of the California Museum of Photography. In the immense archive of vintage stereographic negatives and prints known as the Keystone-Mast Collection are views taken between 1885 and 1960 of places, people, landmarks, industries, agriculture, and historical events in the Los Angeles region. The University Print Collection contains work by over one thousand contemporary and historical photographers. Its Los Angeles-related holdings include negatives from Ansel Adams’s Fiat Lux project which show the campus of the University of California, Los Angeles, and the surrounding area in the 1960s; the archive of original negatives shot by photographer Will Connell in Los Angeles between the late 1920s and the early 1960s; Robert Cleveland’s photographs from the 1940s and 1950s of buildings and architecture in Los Angeles; studio photographs of children, families, entertainers, and burlesque performers taken between 1940 and 1976 at Raoul Gradvolh’s studios in Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles; Kodak Cirkut camera images (10 x 39–60 in. panoramas) taken by William Amos Hanes during the early 1900s which record events and places in Los Angeles, including residential areas, sanitariums, industrial and recreational sites, and downtown; and Louis Jarvis’s photographs of leisure in Pasadena in the 1890s. The museum also has a modest collection of rare photographic books and albums dating to the early decades of the twentieth century.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Seaver Center for Western History Research

The Seaver Center for Western History Research collects, preserves, and makes available to the general public and to scholars historic records pertaining to the history and the exploration of the trans-Mississippi American West, with particular emphasis on Southern California and Los Angeles. Its historic records holdings include (but are not limited to) manuscript materials, books, serials, trade catalogs, pamphlets, broadsides, maps, posters, prints, photographs, and a historic site file listing information on some eight hundred fifty buildings in Southern California. The Seaver Center also acquires research materials that support History Division exhibits and research by History Division curators.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Photography Department

In the photography collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art are approximately fifty-five hundred fine prints spanning the history of the medium, with an emphasis on post-World War II American photography. This collection includes one of the largest holdings of vintage Edward Weston prints in the world, as well as important works by Thomas Barrow, Imogen Cunningham, Robert Heinecken, William Henry Jackson, Alfred Stieglitz, and Karl Struss. In 1985, with the institution of the Ralph M. Parsons Acquisitions Fund, the Photography Department began purchasing significant twentieth-century photographs by Walker Evans, André Kertész, Barbara Kruger, László Moholy-Nagy, Aaron Siskind, Frederick Sommer, Minor White, and others. The Audrey and Sydney Irmas Collection of Photographic Self-Portraits, which contains more than one hundred forty images, was added to the collection in 1993. Forty celebrity portraits have been given to the museum by the Hollywood Photographers Archive, and a substantial holding of the work of George Hurrell and Clarence Sinclair Bull was received in 1995; both of these gifts complement the museum’s resources on the history of the movie industry. The department continues to acquire both vintage and contemporary work.

University of Southern California, Fisher Gallery

The Fisher Gallery is the accredited art museum of the University of Southern California. Founded in 1939 by Elizabeth Holmes Fisher, the gallery has twenty-two hundred objects in its permanent collections. Included in these collections are eighteenth-century British portraits, seventeenth- through nineteenth-century Northern European paintings, and nineteenth-century American and French landscapes, as well as twentieth-century paintings, prints, sculpture, and decorative arts. The Fisher Gallery has exhibited art from around the world ranging from antiquities to old masters to works by contemporary artists. For each exhibition, the gallery organizes a symposium and various events. The gallery also offers group tours, hands-on workshops for children and adults, and performances.

Travel Town Museum

The Travel Town Museum preserves and celebrates the railroad heritage of the western United States—its history and its artifacts. Particular emphasis is placed on the role that railroads played in the development of Southern California and the Los Angeles region. The museum’s railroad equipment collection comprises locomotives, freight cars, cabooses, passenger cars, and motorcars, most of which operated in Southern California at one time. This collection is on display year-round outdoors at 5200 Zoo Drive in Griffith Park. The museum’s archives and photographic collection are located at 3900 West Chevy Chase Drive in Griffith Park. The photographic collection documents the history of the railroad equipment held by the museum as well as the history of railroading in Southern California generally. In the museum’s archives are personal collections of material culture donated by retired engineers, firemen, brakemen, stewards, and other railroad employees. Railroading crosses cultural, racial, and gender lines.

Skirball Cultural Center

The Skirball Cultural Center explores the linkage between American Jewish life and American democratic values through cultural programs and museum exhibitions for all ages and backgrounds. Designed by internationally renowned architect Moshe Safdie, the Skirball comprises a museum, a discovery center, an educational resource center, classrooms and various meeting and social facilities. On permanent exhibition at the museum is “Visions and Values: Jewish Life from Antiquity to America,” which chronicles 4,000 years of the Jewish experience in the Old and New worlds. The visitor is guided from antiquity to arrival in the United States and integration into American life. Large-scale reproductions of an archaeological site at an ancient synagogue in Israel and the Statue of Liberty’s arm and torch are on display, along with historical and political objects and documents about Jews in American dating from colonial times to the present. The Skirball’s permanent collections, which hold more than 25,000 artifacts, include one of the five largest collections of Judaica in the world and the Project Americana Collection. The latter contains family and institutional memorabilia, and family photographs reflecting the experience of the Jewish community in the United States. Some of the material in the Project Americana Collection documents Jewish migration to Los Angeles from other parts of the country and abroad. The Skirball’s outstanding archaeological collection is housed in the Teri Bell Ziffren Discovery Center, which offers an insider’s tour of the archaeology world to explorers ages 5 and up - a tour that includes the opportunity to excavate the simulated remains of an ancient Israelite at the Outdoor Archaeology Dig.