The C.C. Pierce collection constitutes one of the most important collections of historical photographs of early California
and Los Angeles extant. The collection of
10,100 prints was assembled by Charles C. Pierce (1861-1946), a photographer and long-time operator of a thriving Los
Angeles photographic business. The collection is divided into
nine topical headings devised by Pierce. These include Los Angeles Historical; Indians; Missions; California cities, counties,
etc.; Industries and Agriculture; Transportation;
Natural History; Art and Architecture; and Miscellaneous Scenery. Within these large sections are smaller categories that
focus on the history, landscape, people, civic and
cultural events, built environment, and development of Southern California and the Southwest from approximately 1845-1930.
Of particular interest are the various Indian tribes
depicted as well as all twenty-one of the California Missions.
Charles Chester Pierce was born on November 22, 1861, in Springfield, Massachusetts. An engineer by training, Pierce migrated
to Southern California in 1886.
Pierce began his photographic career in the thriving boom town of Los Angeles, first in partnership with Albert H. Lohn,
and then successively with J.B. Blanchard
and A.E. McConnell. He established his own studio around 1900 at 313 Spring Street. He moved several times during his
career, eventually expanding his business to
include the sale of photographic supplies. The most outstanding aspect of his business, however, was the vast picture library
he amassed over three decades at work.
Aside from making his own photographs, Pierce acquired the negatives and prints of other regional photographers such as
Emil Ellis, Parker and Knight, Ramsey, Herve Friend,
L.M. Clendenon, George P. Thresher, George Wharton James, and F.M. Huddleston. Pierce eradicated the existing signatures
from the photographs, stamped his own name on the
images, and organized the lot into subject files. The consequence of Pierce's business practices assured that most, if not
all, of the connections between the images and
their original creator are now lost. However, the archive which he advertised as the "C.C. Pierce Collection of Rare, Historical
and Curious Photographs, Illustrating California,
the Pacific Coast and the Southwest," became an invaluable resource for researchers and boosters alike, all of whom came
to Pierce's shop to locate an image for their purposes.
The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material,
nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and
obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.