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Assistance League of Los Angeles Institutional Archives
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Administrative History
  • Custodial History
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Scope and Contents
  • Arrangement
  • Preferred Citation
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: Library and Archives at the Autry
    Title: Assistance League of Los Angeles Institutional Archives
    Identifier/Call Number: MS.11
    Physical Description: 200 Linear Feet (193 boxes)
    Date: early 1900s to 2019
    Language of Material: English
    Abstract: The Assistance League of Los Angeles is a female-driven community service organization dedicated to improving the lives of impoverished children in the Los Angeles area. The organization that eventually became the Assistance League of Los Angeles was formed in the late 1890s, when Anne Banning and Ada Edwards Laughlin, two wealthy Los Angeles socialites, began organizing charitable projects with other local prominent women using the moniker "Assistance League." The Assistance League of Los Angeles Institutional Archives span from 1907-2014 and include bussiness records, meeting notes, photographs, newspaper clippings, correspondence, and membership lists for the auxiliary groups of the Assistance League of Los Angeles.

    Administrative History

    The Assistance League of Los Angeles is a female-driven community service organization dedicated to improving the lives of impoverished children in the Los Angeles area. Through its auxiliary groups and aid programs, the Assistance League of Los Angeles offers local women the opportunity to help provide underprivileged children with clothing, culture, and education.
    The organization that eventually became the Assistance League of Los Angeles was formed in the late 1890s, when Anne Banning and Ada Edwards Laughlin, two wealthy Los Angeles socialites, began organizing charitable projects with other local prominent women using the moniker "Assistance League." After receiving substantial press coverage for their clothing and supply drives in response to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and World War I, Banning, Laughlin, and eleven other women officially founded the Assistance League of Southern California (ALSC) in 1919. The organization was later incorporated as a nonprofit in 1923 and changed its name to the Assistance League of Los Angeles in 2012.
    The Assistance League of Los Angeles started off as a general community service organization, but soon focused their humanitarian efforts on disadvantaged children. The organization once provided services to senior citizens, such as the social "Over 50 Club" established in 1950 and the all-inclusive Hollywood Senior Citizens Multipurpose Center that opened in 1978, but no longer operates these programs. As of 2017, the League's current service programs include: Operation School Bell, Foster Children's Resource Center, Preschool Learning Center, Hollywood Children's Club, Theater for Children, and the Court Referred Volunteer Center.
    To fund their community service programs, the Assistance League of Los Angeles has engaged a wide range of fundraising strategies over the course of their existence. An early strategy developed by Anne Banning that prevails today is the "pay to attend" fundraising model, where ticket sales for social events hosted by the League generate revenue that is used to fulfill service program budgets. Over the years, the League has raised numerous funds by charging admission to fashion shows, polo tournaments, automobile shows, home tours, galas, and holiday parties.
    In the 1920s, the organization used their Hollywood connections to run their Film Location Bureau, which helped filmmakers locate local properties ideal for filming locations. The Bureau would negotiate contracts with property owners and the proceeds would benefit the League.
    In the 1940s and 1950s, the League operated the Attic Tearoom and Thrift Shop in their first community house, located at 5604 De Longpre Avenue. Movie stars, such as Mary Pickford and Shirley Temple, were known to volunteer at both. When the League outgrew their original building and constructed the Anne Banning Community House at 1370 North St. Andrews Place in the 1960s, they opened the Fountain Court restaurant, Gift Shop, and Thrift Shop as additional means of income. The Assistance League of Los Angeles no longer operates any retail stores or dining establishments, but other chapters still raise funds using gift or thrift stores. The organization's offices are now located at 826 Cole Avenue.
    Starting in the 1920s, the organization began employing groups of its members, called auxiliary groups, to organize and operate the League's various services. Many auxiliary groups are responsible for raising funds for specific social services provided by the chapter. In the earlier years, the League had over twenty auxiliary groups. Over time, some of these groups were retired, some combined with other groups, and others became their own nonprofit organizations. As of 2017, there are eight auxiliary groups: Anne Banning, College Alumnae, Hilltoppers, Mannequins, Nine O'Clock Players, Preschool, Founder Assisteens, Young Men's Assisteens, and Young Professionals.
    The Anne Banning Auxiliary, established in 1955 and named after the League's founder, is responsible for supporting Operation School Bell, which provides clothing and grooming kits to needy children from the Los Angeles Unified School District.
    The College Alumnae Auxiliary was formed in 1937 by juniors and seniors at Los Angeles area colleges to encourage younger women to get involved with the organization and its community service programs. By hosting annual social events and running a patron campaign, this group supports the League primarily through general fundraising.
    The Hilltoppers Auxiliary, founded in the 1940s by members living in the San Fernando Valley, was originally responsible for collecting merchandise for the League's consignment and gift shops. Today, this auxiliary group supports the Foster Children's Resource Center (FCRC) by collecting emergency clothing and supplies for children in foster care.
    The Mannequins Auxiliary was created in 1943 by League members with experience and connections in the world of fashion. Through galas, luncheons, and fashion shows highlighting local and independent designers, this group is able to raise substantial funds for the Assistance League of Los Angeles.
    The Nine O'Clock Players Auxiliary, originally formed in 1929, is responsible for producing and performing plays at the League's Theater for Children, the oldest children's theater in Los Angeles. This 330 seat facility provides low-income children in the Los Angeles area with the opportunity to enjoy live musical theater for educational and entertainment value.
    Founded in 1924, the Preschool Auxiliary (originally the Day Nursery Auxiliary) was developed to investigate the feasibility and need for a no-cost nursery. The League eventually built its own Day Nursery, which was operated by volunteers from this group. Today, the League's Preschool Learning Center provides similar services, including free Pre-Kindergarten classes, to low-income families.
    In an attempt to encourage the daughters of Assistance League members to get involved with their community service efforts, the League formed the Founder Assisteens Auxiliary in the 1930s. This group has traditionally served as a general support group for the programs offered by the League.
    The Young Men's Assisteens Auxiliary and Young Professionals Auxiliaries are more recent auxiliary groups designed to motivate young people to participate in community service. The Young Men's Assisteens gives male high school students the opportunity to aid the League in its philanthropic efforts. The Young Professionals Auxiliary helps men and women in their 20s and 30s find local volunteer opportunities that directly benefit League services.
    The Assistance League of Los Angeles is the founding chapter of the National Assistance League (NAL), generally known as simply the Assistance League. In the mid-1930s, women in other communities expressed interest in adopting the philanthropic philosophy of the Assistance League and affiliate chapters were started across Southern California. In response to this, the National Assistance League was organized in 1949 and chapters opened up across the United States. Today, there are over 120 chapters nationwide.

    Custodial History

    The Assistance League of Los Angeles (ALLA) Institutional Archives was created by the Assistance League from the its founding to present day. The archives were donated to the Autry Museum by ALLA in 2015.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Donated by the Assistance League of Los Angeles, 2015.

    Scope and Contents

    This collection consists of administrative papers, correspondence, photographs, and publications that document the history of the Assistance League of Los Angeles from its founding in the early 1900s to present day.
    A large portion of the collection encompasses the business records of the organization, including Executive Committee agendas and meeting minutes, financial records, such as accounting ledgers and Treasurer's reports; membership rosters, annual meeting information, including agendas, programs, and meeting minutes; general correspondence, public relations files, such as advertising materials and annual reports; fundraising information, including event programs, invitations, silent auction inventories, and subcommittee rosters; and documents concerning properties and facilities, such as the Anne Banning Community House, Griffith Park Adult Community Center, and Hollywood Senior Multipurpose Center, that were owned or operated by the League over the course of its history.
    In addition to general League business records, the collection contains documentation from many of the League's subgroups, known as auxiliary groups. Materials in this collection pertain to the Anne Banning, Assisteens, Bib and Tuckers, Bookworms, Central, College Alumnae, Hilltoppers, Mannequins, Noontimers, Palatists, Playroomers, Nine O'Clock Players, Ruth Creamer, and Volunteers in Professions auxiliaries. Documents related to auxiliary groups generally include meeting minutes, correspondence, financial records, historical documentation, such as newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, photographs, books, and reports; membership records, and information related to fundraising events held by the various groups. Event-related documentation includes planning materials, reports, event advertisements and programs, and photographs. Other auxiliary group materials present in the collection include DVDs, pamphlets, and cookbooks.
    The Assistance League of Los Angeles is known for providing humanitarian aid to underprivileged children in the Los Angeles area. This collection contains a significant number of materials that document the humanitarian services provided by the League since its inception. This collection documents the following Assistance League services: Boys' Club, Girls' Club, Day Nursery, Family Service Agency, Foster Children's Resource Center (FCRC), Volunteer Center, and Western Region Asian American Program (WRAP) Agency. Documents related to Assistance League services include meeting minutes, correspondence, financial records, and promotional materials, including pamphlets, booklets, and other give-away items.
    Additionally, the Assistance League of Los Angeles collection contains a great number of newsletters published by the organization. Earlier in its history, when the League was known as the Assistance League of Southern California, they produced the Assistance Leagues News. Many issues of this publication are present in the collection, including individual and bound issues. Other newsletters present in the collection are: Assistance League of Southern California News, Los Angeles Assistance League News, and The Fountain.
    The Assistance League of Los Angeles collection also contains a great deal of historical documentation. In addition to the scrapbooks related to auxiliary groups, the collection also contains general scrapbooks of photographs and newspaper clippings that mention League activities over time. Other historical materials include booklets and programs from anniversary celebrations, awards, plaques, and trophies, historical narratives, and correspondence to and from League founding members Anne Banning and Ruth Creamer.
    • Series 1: General Business and Leadership Documentation
    • Series 2: Executive Committee
    • Series 3: Financial and Legal Documentation
    • Series 4: Fundraising Events
    • Series 5: Properties and Facilities
    • Series 6: Public Relations
    • Series 7: Assistance League History
    • Series 8: Newsletters
    • Series 9: Assistance League Services
    • Series 10: Anne Banning Auxiliary
    • Series 11: Assisteen Auxiliaries
    • Series 12: Bib and Tuckers Auxiliary
    • Series 13: Bookworms Auxiliary
    • Series 14: Central Auxiliary
    • Series 15: College Alumnae Auxiliary
    • Series 16: Hilltoppers Auxiliary
    • Series 17: Mannequins Auxiliary
    • Series 18: Noontimers Auxiliary
    • Series 19: Palatists Auxiliary
    • Series 20: Playroomers Auxiliary
    • Series 21: Nine O'Clock Players
    • Series 22: Ruth Creamer Auxiliary
    • Series 23: Volunteers in Professions Auxiliary

    Preferred Citation

    Assistance League of Los Angeles Institutional Archives, Autry Museum of the American West; MS.11.[item number]; [date].

    Conditions Governing Access

    Collection is open for remote research. For more information contact library staff at rroom@theautry.org. An item-level inventory is available from library staff.

    Conditions Governing Use

    Copyright has not been assigned to the Autry Museum of the American West. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Autry Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Autry Museum as the custodian of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Women -- California -- Los Angeles -- Societies and clubs -- History
    Charities--California--Los Angeles.
    Social work with children--California.
    Social work with youth
    Children--Services for--California--Los Angeles County.
    Voluntarism--California -- Los Angeles
    Women -- West (U.S.) -- History
    Clubs -- California -- Los Angeles