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Finding Aid for the John Downing Weaver collection of Los Angeles ephemera and research materials, 1960-1985
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Note
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: John Downing Weaver collection of Los Angeles ephemera and research materials
    Date (inclusive): 1960-1985
    Collection number: 1393
    Creator: Weaver, John D. (John Downing), 1912-2002.
    Extent: 96 boxes (8 linear ft.) 1 oversize box.
    Abstract: A file composed primarily of newspaper and magazine clippings, but also containing some letters, notes, public documents and official reports, collected during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s by the author of, among other books, Los Angeles: the Enormous Village (1980) and of the 1974 and 1985 Encyclopaedia Britannica articles on Los Angeles.
    Language: Finding aid is written in English.
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Department of Special Collections.
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
    Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.

    Administrative Information

    Restrictions on Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Open for research. Advance notice required for access. Contact the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    Property rights to the physical object belong to the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Gift of John Weaver, 1984.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], John Downing Weaver collection of Los Angeles ephemera and research materials (Collection 1393). Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.

    UCLA Catalog Record ID

    UCLA Catalog Record ID: 4233967 


    Weaver was born in Washington, D.C., Feb. 4, 1912; attended Georgetown Univ. (1928-29); AB, College of William and Mary (1932); AM, George Washington Univ. (1933); worked for various federal agencies, including the National Recovery Administration (1933-35); reporter, feature writer, book reviewer, and copy editor, Kansas City star (1935-40); started freelance writing (1940); published works include: Wind before rain (1942), Another such victory (1948), Warren : the man, the court, the era (1967), The Brownsville raid : the story of America's "black Dreyfus affair" (1970), Los Angeles : the enormous village (1980).
    Harriet Sherwood Weaver was born in Haigler, NE, Oct. 29, 1913; graduated Phi Beta Kappa, Univ. of Kansas (1934); contributed book reviews and feature articles to the Kansas City star (1936); married John Downing Weaver (1937); moved to Los Angeles ca. 1940; the 1961 Bel-Air fire prompted her crusade for both effective management of native brush in the Santa Monica Mountains and brush clearance legislation; headed the fire committee of the Federation of Hillside and Canyon Assns.; served on LA Countywide Citizens Planning Council (1972-79); died Nov. 23, 1988.

    Scope and Content

    Collection consists primarily of newspaper and magazine clippings related to Los Angeles during the 1960s-1980s. Also includes letters, notes, public documents, and reports. Material was collected by John Weaver and Harriett Sherwood Weaver in the course of their work as writers and active members of various Santa Monica Mountain homeowner assns. Includes news clippings from the Los Angeles times and the Valley news and green sheet.

    Organization and Arrangement

    Arranged alphabetically.


    This file on the quirks and quiddities of Los Angeles was created and maintained for more than twenty years to serve the needs of a working writer and his civically active wife, Harriett Sherwood Weaver, both of whom came to the breakfast table each morning with scissors and staplers at the ready as they opened the Los Angeles Times (and, in later years, the Valley News & Green Sheet which in time resurfaced as the Daily News).
    We clipped and filed news stories, feature articles, letters and editorials which might turn out to be useful. We also saved magazine articles, reports from official entities and letters from public servants and public scolds, along with other material that came our way in the course of our work as writers and as active members of various Santa Monica Mountain homeowner associations operating under the umbrella of the Federation of Hillside and Canyon associations (Cf. Collection No. 1244 ).
    Our files were intended to provide quick, accurate answers to questions which might arise in the course of a day's work when, for example, one of us set out to write a magazine article on UCLA's sculpture garden or prepare a report for a City Council committee on the hazards of so-called "safe and sane fireworks."
    Collection 1393 should be used in conjunction with not only the hillside federation's files, but also those of Harriett Weaver (Collection No. 1447) , who for many years presided over the Mayor's Brush Clearance Advisory Committee. She helped write the ordinances governing chaparral management in the city's mountainous areas in the 1960s, reformed the enforcement procedures twenty years later and served as a consultant to county and federal forestry officials dealing with the problems of what the bureaucracy called the "urban-wildland interface."
    Both collections, 1447 and 1393, are eclectic, reflecting the interests and prejudices of the two collectors who, as I've noted elsewhere, "crossed the plains in a covered Chevrolet to homestead in the Hollywood hills (circa 1940)." 1 Like so many other Angelinos, we came to make a better life for ourselves, fleeing a 9-to-5 office world for which neither of us was properly equipped. We set up shop as free-lance writers and, then as now, the operative word was "free."
    For the first two decades, which included a three-year tour of duty in the pictorial services of the Army signal corps, I wrote fiction, while Harriett astonished us both by evolving into a master carpenter, bricklayer and rug-weaver. 2 In the 1960s, when she launched her attack on the fire-flood landslide problems of the hillside homeowner, I turned to the writing of nonfiction, which spawned the closet-filled monster that has evolved into Collection 1393. In the years Harriett and i were using our two files, they were never as well organized as they are now. In some instances we simply tossed clippings, letters and assorted documents into discarded canned fruit boxes from a Ralphs trashbin, planning to sort them out when we "had the time." Finally, in the mid-1980s, we took the time. On the spring afternoon we delivered the last carton of Collection 1393 to the loading dock of the University Research Library at UCLA (a banana box filled with MUSEUMS and HOLLYWOOD), Harriett ordered up an extra tot of gin for all hands and began to move closes into her liberated closets.
    John D. Weaver


    October 1986

    1 Los Angeles: The Enormous Village (Capra Press, 1980)

    2Cf. As I Live and Breathe (Rinehart, 1959)

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    Weaver, John Downing, 1912- --Archives.
    Weaver, Harriett E. --Archives.
    Los Angeles (Calif.) --History.

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Clippings files.

    Related Material

    Federation of Hillside and Canyon Associations Records (Collection 1244).   Available at the Department of Special Collections, UCLA.