Register of the California Eagle Photograph Collection, Late 1800s-Late 1950s

Processed by Mary Tyler; machine-readable finding aid created by Xiuzhi Zhou
Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research
6120 S. Vermont Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90044
Phone: (323) 759-6063
Fax: (323) 759-2252
© 1999
Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research. All rights reserved.

Register of the California Eagle Photograph Collection, Late 1800s-Late 1950s

Collection number: PH 001

Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research

Los Angeles, California

Contact Information:

  • Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research
  • 6120 S. Vermont Avenue
  • Los Angeles, California 90044
  • Phone: (323) 759-6063
  • Fax: (323) 759-2252
  • Email:
  • URL:
Processed by:
Mary Tyler
Date Completed:
October 1996
Encoded by:
Xiuzhi Zhou
© 1999 Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: California Eagle Photograph Collection,
Date (inclusive): Late 1800s-Late 1950s
Collection number: PH 001
Creator: California eagle (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Extent: 1 cubic foot
Repository: Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research.
Los Angeles, California
Language: English.

Administrative Information


The collection is available for research only at the Library's facility in Los Angeles.  The Library is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Researchers are encouraged to call or email the Library indicating the nature of their research query prior to making a visit.

Publication Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to the Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research. Researchers may make single copies of any portion of the collection, but publication from the collection will be allowed only with the express written permission of the Library's director. It is not necessary to obtain written permission to quote from a collection. When the Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research gives permission for publication, it is as the owner of the physical item and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], California Eagle Photograph Collection, Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research, Los Angeles.


The California Eagle, the oldest African American newspaper in Los Angeles traces its origins to 1879, when John J. Neimore, a Texan, started the paper. It was first known as The Owl, later to become the Eagle, and when Charlotta Spears Bass took over, the California Eagle.
When John Neimore died in 1912, Captain G.W. Hawkins, a second-hand store dealer, bought the paper and turned it over to Charlotta Bass to own and operate. Charlotta Bass (1879-1969) had moved from her brother's home in Rhode Island to Los Angeles in 1910 for health reasons. It was intended as a two year stay, but the high cost of living drove Mrs. Bass to find work within several months of her arrival. She landed a job with the Eagle and proved to be a great asset to the paper.
Charlotta Bass continued in the crusading tradition of the Eagle in fighting for equality and against racial bigotry. In addition, to the activism of the paper, Mrs. Bass integrated the social page to please the myriad of interests in the Los Angeles African American community.
Charlotta Bass was running the paper alone until Joseph Blackburn Bass, a founder of the Topeka Plaindealer, moved to Los Angeles in 1913. He and Charlotta Bass married the following year. They ran the paper together, Mr. Bass took care of the business end, while Mrs. Bass did most of the writing. Mr. Bass became ill in 1932 and died in 1934. Mrs. Bass continued to run the paper alone. There was hope that Charlotta Bass's young nephew, John Kinloch who moved to Los Angeles in the late 1930s would take over the paper. His young life was cut short when he was killed in combat during World War II. Once again Mrs. Bass was left to run the paper alone.
Money problems plagued the California Eagle, but Charlotta Bass continued to publish the paper despite competition from the Los Angeles Sentinel (established 1933) and the Los Angeles Tribune (established 1940). Mrs. Bass had been contemplating selling the paper, but it wasn't until 1951 that she decided to sell the paper to Loren Miller, the former city editor of the California Eagle. Miller continued in the same tradition of putting out an activist paper as Bass and Neimore. Miller, a civil liberties lawyer, had a particular interest in discrimination and housing. His work against restrictive convenants and other racially segregated practices led to his appointment as municipal court judge by Governor Edmund "Pat" Brown in 1964.
Miller's appointment to the bench led to the acquisition of his majority stock by a group of 14 people. A.S. "Doc" Young was designated as the president and editor, while James Tolbert would be publisher and executive vice-president. Tolbert would manage the business side, while Young would make the editorial decisions. Under the beginning of the short-lived Tolbert-Young era, the California Eagle increased its circulation from 3,000 to 21,000 papers. But, within six months the paper went bust due to missed business opportunities and mismanagement. Young resigned four months into the Tolbert-Young partnership leaving Tolbert, who had very little editorial experience to manage. The paper rapidly deteriorated and on January 7, 1965, the California Eagle ceased publication after its beginning 85 years before.
  • Bass, Charlotta A. Forty Years: Memoirs from the Pages of a Newspaper. Charlotta A. Bass, Los Angeles, 1960.
  • Cooper, Sarah and Tyler, Mary. "Bass, Charlotta Spears," Encyclopedia of the American West. McMillan & Co., New York, 1996.
  • Jeter, Ph.D., James Phillip. Rough Flying: The California Eagle (1879-1965). Presented to the 12th Annual Conference of the American Journalism Historians Association, Salt Lake City, Utah, October 7, 1993. Unpublished.

Scope and Content

The collection is divided into six categories: Charlotta Bass; General; Individuals; Labor; Social Causes; and Society. Most of the photographs were taken for the California Eagle. The collection dates from the late 1800s to the late 1950s. The later photographs were used under Loren Miller. Many of the earlier photographs are of Charlotta Bass and in that series. Other earlier photographs can be found in the Society category under Portraits.

Series Description


Charlotta Bass

Scope and Content Note

Photographs of Mrs. Bass can be found throughout the collection. But, the Charlotta Bass series contain photographs that are personal to and of her. For example, the photographs of Jessie Mae Brown, Helen Gahagan Douglas and Photo Greetings are signed photos to Mrs. Bass. The Political Campaigns, an integral part of Mrs. Bass's life, are divorced from her role as a journalist. Many of the photos in the Charlotta Bass series include photographs of friends and her activities with them.


Scope and Content Note

The General series are photographs that were probably used by the California Eagle for feature stories. Such as the Hollywood Ten or those of the Civic Leaders. The photograph that is most used is for reports, monographs, and exhibits is "This Tract is Exclusive and Restricted." Segregated housing in Los Angeles. Early 1950s.


Scope and Content Note

The photographs in the Individuals series include those of Paul Robeson and a young Tom Bradley, former Mayor of Los Angeles. Other photographs of individuals from the Los Angeles African-American community include Elbert Hudson, President of Broadway Savings and Loan, Leon Washington, publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel, and Gladys Owens Smith, great granddaughter of Biddy Mason. The California Eagle championed liberal causes for which there are photographs of well-known liberals such as Helen Gahagan Douglas, Leo Gallagher, Pettis Perry, and Pete Seeger.


Scope and Content Note

The Labor series include many black workers on the job and on the picket line in Los Angeles. See Picket Lines, Work, Red Caps, Group Photographs, and Work.

Social Causes

Scope and Content Note

The California Eagle was one of the few papers in Los Angeles that was sympathetic to progressive issues. The photographs represented in the series Social Causes reflect some of the struggles of progressives during the Cold War era of the 1950s such as the "LA 21" Smith Act Case. Included in this section is a photograph of the Laws Family. The Laws Family were ordered to leave their home under the racial-restrictive covenants of the 1940s and 1950s. They wouldn't leave and were jailed for several days until the California Supreme Court released them on a writ of habeas corpus. Their attorney was John McTernan, a Los Angeles civil liberties lawyer.


Scope and Content Note

The last in the series is Society. Most of the photographs are of African Americans and the cultural life of that community. The photographs date from the late 1800s. The photographs that were taken in the 1930s-1950s were probably used in the society section. Often, the photographs are of the elite of the Los Angeles African American community and their social functions. These urban elite are featured in Portraits and Social Functions. Publicity includes photographs of entertainers probably used for advertising local gigs in South Central Los Angeles.

Container List



Folder 1


Folder 2

Jessie Mae Brown, Helen Gahagan Douglas

Folder 3


Folder 4

Civic Functions

Folder 5


Folder 6

Social Functions

Folder 7

Negative, Print (early 1900s).

Folder 8

Photo Greetings

Folder 9

Political Campaigns

Folder 10


Folder 11


Folder 12


Folder 13

Trip to the Soviet Union (1950s?).



Folder 14

African American Women Professionals

Folder 15

Angels Flight. 1960s.

Folder 16

Birthday Celebration

Folder 17

The California Eagle and Staff 1920s?, 1932. (Print, negative, slide)

Folder 18

Civic Functions

Folder 19

Civic Leaders

Folder 20

Civil Rights Congress. 1950s.

Folder 21

Civil Rights Congress Citizens Jury. 1952.

Folder 22

Eagle Celebration. April 3, 1947.

Folder 23

Miscellaneous Photographs and Snapshots

Folder 24

Highlander Folk School. 1950s.

Folder 25

Hollywood Ten. 1947.

Folder 26


Folder 27

International Book Shop. San Francisco, (1940s?).

Folder 28

International Labor Defense. San Francisco, 1927.

Folder 29

Independent Progressive Party. Second Birthday Celebration.

Folder 30


Folder 31


Folder 32

Printing Plates

Folder 33

Progressive Party. Late 1940s.

Folder 34

School Group Photographs. Early and Late 1900s.

Folder 35

"This Tract is Exclusive and Restricted." Segregated Housing in Los Angeles. (1950s?). Copy negative and print.

Folder 36

Trains. Print and Negatives.

Folder 37

War? Photographs

Folder 38

WPA Theatre. Photographs form "Arena" by Halle Flanagan.



Folder 39

Reuben W. Borough

Folder 40

Joseph and Edna Brock

Folder 41

Edmund G. "Pat" Brown

Folder 42

Charles Carr

Folder 43

Helen Gahagan Douglas

Folder 44

Leo Gallagher

Folder 45

Elbert Hudson, President Broadway Savings and Loan. 1940s.

Folder 46

Hattie McDaniel

Folder 47

Marilyn Miller

Folder 48

Pettis Perry

Folder 49

Paul Robeson

Folder 50

Paul Robeson, Tom Bradley, et al. Print, Slide, Negative.

Folder 51

Mrs. Paul Robeson

Folder 52

Paul Robeson, Jr's Children. 1958.

Folder 53

Eleanor Roosevelt

Folder 54

Pete Seeger

Folder 55

Gladys Owens Smith (Great granddaughter of Biddy Mason)

Folder 56

William "Bill" Taylor

Folder 57

Henry Wallace

Folder 58

Leon Washington



Folder 59

Eldon Manufacturing Company

Folder 60

Group Photographs

Folder 61

Harvill Corporation

Folder 62

Labor Day? Parade. 1947.

Folder 63

Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers

Folder 64

National Automobile School. Early 1920s

Folder 65

Picket Lines

Folder 66

Red Caps

Folder 67

Trona, California

Folder 68




Folder 69


Folder 70

"Ban the Bomb" Peace Demonstration

Folder 71

"LA 21" Smith Act Case

Folder 72

The Laws Family

Folder 73


Folder 74

Smith Act

Folder 75

Robert Wesley Wells



Folder 76


Folder 77


Folder 78

Social Functions