Collection of Southern California and Mexico Photographs

Huntington Library. Photo Archives
Huntington Library. Photo Archives
Photograph Collections, 1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
(626) 405-2129

Descriptive Summary

Title: Collection of Southern California and Mexico Photographs
Dates: ca. 1890-1910
Collection Number: photCL 110
Creator/Collector: Waite, C. B. (Charles Betts), 1861-1927; Various photographers
Extent: 114 photographs in 1 box; prints 20.5 x 12.5 cm. (8 x 5 in.). See itemized list under "Additional collection guides."
Repository: Huntington Library. Photo Archives
San Marino, California 91108
Abstract: This collection contains photographs by commercial photographers dated ca. 1890-1910, illustrating recreation and scenery on Catalina Island, a hotel and public parks in Southern California, and various historical sites and street scenes in Mexico City. Many of the photographs include tourists and local residents, such as bathers on Catalina Island, and people in parks and towns.
Language of Material: English


Access is granted to qualified researchers and by appointment. Please contact the Curator of Photographs at the Huntington Library.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to publish photographs must be submitted in writing to the Curator of Photographs. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Huntington as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

Preferred Citation

Collection of Southern California and Mexico Photographs. Huntington Library. Photo Archives

Acquisition Information

Given by an unknown donor in 1960.

Biography/Administrative History

Charles Betts Waite was born December 19, 1861 in Auburn Township, Ohio. He first delved into photography when he was in his late twenties, working as a view photographer for Burdick and Company in Los Angeles. Over time, Waite became known for his work as a landscape photographer with his own studio. After marrying at the age of thirty-five, Waite moved to Mexico City and established a photography studio there, specializing in views of the city. He became associated with the Sonora News Company and contracted with them to take photographs of Mexico’s indigenous people and more out-of-the-way areas for travel magazines and books, and tourist postal cards. Waite lived in Mexico for almost 27 years before returning to Los Angeles in 1923. He died there on March 22, 1927.

Scope and Content of Collection

Photographs of Catalina Island include views of Avalon, Sugarloaf Point, sailboats and glass-bottom boats, steamships, bathers at the beach, a tent city, and sailors of the steamship the “San Diego”. California views include Missions San Gabriel, San Fernando, and San Juan Capistrano; the Coronado Hotel in San Diego; Central Park, St. James Park, and Hollenbeck Park (all based in Los Angeles); Adams Street in Los Angeles; the Shakespearean actress Helena [Madame] Modjeska’s home in Orange County; and an interior view of Columbia Savings Bank’s then president Aaron M. Ozum’s residence at 3131 Figueroa Street, Los Angeles. Photographs of Mexico depict the Cathedral de Mexico, Paseo de la Reforma, interiors and exteriors of Castillo de Chapultepec, Hotel Iturbide, Mercado Volador, Canal de la Viga, the daily lives of Mexican citizens, the Zócalo (now known as the Plaza de la Constitución), and various street scenes. There are 12 miscellaneous photographs (102-114), in small square or circular format, mounted on board, that appear to be among the oldest here. They show cargo ships at shipping docks (one identified "McNab & Smith Draying") possibly in San Francisco, a steamship, and gardens. C. B. Waite photographed 19 of the 114 prints in this collection. Other photographers who contributed to this collection are Charles F. Ironmonger, Frank L. Park, Percy Cox and R. J. Carmichael, J. C. Hatton Noren F. Swenson, and the Special View Company. Two photographers were identified on some photographs only by their surnames: Graham and Scott.

Indexing Terms

Avalon (Calif.)
Bathing beaches
Cargo ships
Castillo de Chapultepec (Mexico City, Mexico)
Catedral de México
Glass bottom boats
Golf courses
Hearses (Vehicles)
Hotel del Coronado (Coronado, Calif.)
Mission San Gabriel Arcangel (San Gabriel, Calif.)
Mission San Juan Capistrano
Palacio de Iturbide
Palacio Nacional (Mexico City, Mexico)
Parks--California--Los Angeles
Paseo de la Reforma (Mexico City, Mexico)
Plaza de la Constitución (Mexico City, Mexico)
San Fernando, Rey de España (Mission : San Fernando, Calif.)
Los Angeles (Calif.)
Mexico City (Mexico)
Santa Catalina Island (Calif.)

Additional collection guides