Immediate Source of Acquisition
Scope and Contents
Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Use
Language of Material:
Library and Archives at the Autry
Title: Assistance League of Los Angeles Institutional Archives
Identifier/Call Number: MS.11
200 Linear Feet
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.
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
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
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.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
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