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Elinor Oswald Collection of Southern California Tourism Ephemera 0007
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Preferred Citation
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition note
  • Biographical note
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Processing Information note
  • Separated Materials

  • Title: Elinor Oswald Collection of Southern California Tourism Ephemera
    Identifier/Call Number: 0007
    Contributing Institution: Pepperdine University. Special Collections and University Archives.
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 29.42 linear feet (30 boxes)
    Date (bulk): Bulk, 1972-1995
    Date (inclusive): 1968-2009
    Abstract: The collection includes a wide variety of tourist ephemera relating to Elinor Oswald’s professional career as a tour guide. The bulk of the collection consists of brochures, maps, artist files, travel books, magazine articles, newspaper clippings, itineraries, business records, photographs, slides, negatives, and other materials that helped Elinor plan the tours. The materials date from 1968 to 2009.
    Creator: Oswald, Elinor

    Conditions Governing Access

    Advance notice required for access.

    Conditions Governing Use

    Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

    Preferred Citation

    [Box/folder# or item name], Elinor Oswald Collection of Southern California Tourism Ephemera, Collection no. 0007, Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries, Pepperdine University.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition note

    The collection was given to Pepperdine University on October 9, 2009, by Jan Oswald, daughter of Elinor Oswald.

    Biographical note

    Elinor Byrne Scott Oswald was born about 1921 in New York to Holton H. and Agnes M. Scott. Elinor attended Vassar College where she studied art and graduated in 1942. On April 24, 1943, she married Telford Oswald, an army veteran and Stanford University graduate. In 1945, Elinor and her husband moved to Southern California settling in Altadena, while Telford earned a PhD in aerospace engineering from the California Institute of Technology.
    In the 1950s, the family moved to Pacific Palisades where Elinor put her art knowledge to good use by volunteering in the docent programs at such places as the Norton Simon Museum, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). In fact, Elinor helped establish the docent program at LACMA when it opened in 1961. Other organizations that Elinor was involved in include the Los Angeles Junior League Sustainers and the UCLA University Religious Conference.
    In 1971, Elinor began leading small groups of Angelino's on walking tours around the city; an idea that had not yet been tried in the area but had done well in similarly sized cities such as Boston and New York City. This model proved to be quite successful and Elinor turned the venture into a business naming her company L.A. Today Custom Tours. Her business quickly grew and she began chartering buses to transport larger groups of clients around the city and its outlying areas. For the first five years, she focused her efforts on the confines of Los Angeles proper but eventually branched out to the San Gabriel Valley, Orange County, and San Diego. Always faithful to her alma mater, Elinor stayed in touch with Vassar College alum, and planned several reunion meetings in the Los Angeles area. She planned and organized stays at hotels like the Biltmore and led fellow Vassar graduates on tours of the city.
    Elinor found a great niche of clientele in the spouses of the many delegates that would flock to Los Angeles for conferences in their respective fields, such as the World Law Group, the American Society of Thoracic Surgeons, and even the Tupperware World Conference. While the professionals were attending the conference events, Elinor advertised her business to the assembly and offered tours of Los Angeles at group rates, which allowed her to reach an ever wider audience.
    On October 5, 1987, L.A. Today Custom Tours reached a new milestone when Elinor led her first out-of-state tour to the Grand Canyon. Shortly there after, she led her first international tour to New Zealand. She eventually led clients to such far away places as Massachusetts, Wyoming, France, and even China.
    Living the remainder of their lives together in Pacific Palisades, Telford passed away in 2009 after a prolonged illness, with Elinor following not long after. They are survived by their four children.

    Scope and Content

    The collection consists of ephemeral materials and clippings relating to Elinor Oswald’s professional career as a tour guide. Materials range in date from 1968 to 2009, with the bulk of the collection from 1972 to 1995. Subjects cover a diverse array of Los Angeles and California history and pertain to local tourist attractions, museums, art galleries, local artists, parks, churches, gardens, and historical architecture in Southern California. Subjects also relate to specific local entities, such as: businesses; schools, colleges and universities; political parties; and associations, groups, and clubs. Additional records are associated specifically with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), The J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Norton Simon Museum. Included are lecture notes and handouts relating to the docent program at LACMA that Elinor helped establish. There are additional subject files related to Los Angeles and its history, travel outside of California, natural disasters, ethnic populations, gardens, architecture, and a vast array of other subjects Elinor used when creating her tours. Research files exist on artistic movements and styles through history and on local and internationally known artists and individuals.
    The range of ephemera includes magazine and newspaper clippings, brochures, art gallery and artist mailers, advertisements, exhibition catalogs, menus, maps, programs, fliers, souvenirs, photographs, negatives, slides, and commemorative materials.


    The collection is arranged in the following 18 series: Series 1. Downtown Los Angeles and Chinatown; Series 2. Pasadena Area and San Gabriel Valley; Series 3. Central Los Angeles; Series 4. South and East Los Angeles; Series 5. West Los Angeles and Santa Monica Mountains; Series 6. Southbay, Long Beach, and the Harbors; Series 7. Los Angeles’ North Valleys; Series 8. Orange County; Series 9. Ventura County; Series 10. San Diego County and Tijuana; Series 11. Riverside County, San Bernardino County, and Kern County; Series 12. Santa Barbara County and San Luis Obispo County; Series 13. Northern California; Series 14. Outside of California; Series 15. Artists and Individuals; Series 16. Artistic Movements, Styles, and Mediums; Series 17. L.A. Today Custom Tour Business Records; and Series 18. General Subjects.
    The geographic regions of Los Angeles County were determined using Mapping L.A., a neighborhood map maintained by the Los Angeles Times. The map is available online at http://projects.latimes.com/mapping-la/neighborhoods/.

    Processing Information note

    The collection was arranged and described by Naomi King (2010), Darcy Bieber Maki (2011), and Austin McElrath (2013), Pepperdine Special Collections and University Archives Interns, under the supervision of Katie Richardson and Melissa Nykanen.

    Separated Materials

    Books have been removed from the collection and added to the circulating collection:
    Carr, Harry, and E. H. Suydam. 1935. Los Angeles, city of dreams. New York: D. Appleton-Century Co.
    Cleland, Robert Glass, and Carl H. Pforzheimer. 1950. El Molino Viejo. [Los Angeles]: Ward Ritchie Press.
    Crow, Martha Nell. 1971. Howard Hillman's San Francisco at-a-glance. New York: D. McKay Co.
    Doss, Margot Patterson. 1964. San Francisco at your feet; great walks in a walker's town. New York: Grove Press.
    Holder, Charles Frederick. 1889. All about Pasadena and its vicinity; its climate, missions, trails and canons, fruits, flowers and game. Boston: Lee and Shepard.
    Jackson, Joseph Henry, and E. H. Suydam. 1941. Anybody's gold, the story of California's mining towns. New York: D. Appleton-Century Co.
    Jones, Isabel Morse. 1936. Hollywood bowl. New York, Los Angeles: G. Schirmer, Inc.
    Lindsay, Lowell, and Diana Lindsay. 1978. The Anza-Borrego Desert region a guide to state park & adjacent areas. Berkeley, CA: Wilderness Press.
    Los Angeles County Museum of Art. 1986. The Robert O. Anderson Building. Los Angeles, Calif: Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
    Nordhoff, Charles. 1872. California: for health, pleasure and residence: a book for travellers and settlers. New York: Harper.
    Overholt, Alma Staheli, and Jack Sargent. 1978. The Catalina story. [Avalon, Calif.]: Catalina Island Museum Society.
    Ramsey, Merle, and Mabel Ramsey. 1976. The first one hundred years in Laguna Beach, 1876-1976: history in a nutshell. S.l: s.n.].
    Riley, Frank. 1976. De Anza's trail today. Los Angeles: World Way Publication.
    Robinson, W. W. 1957. The story of San Luis Obispo County. San Luis Obispo, Calif: Title Insurance and Trust Co.
    Robinson, W. W., and Lawrence Clark Powell. 1958. The Malibu. Los Angeles: Ward Ritchie Press.
    San Bernardino County Museum commemorative edition. 1974. Redlands, Calif: Allen-Greendale Publishers.
    Saunders, Charles Francis, and J. Smeaton Chase. 1915. The California padres and their missions. Boston: Houghton Mifflin company.
    Shippey, Lee. 1929. Personal glimpses of famous folks: and other selections from the Lee side o' L.A. Sierra Madre, Calif: Sierra Madre Press.
    Wood, Basil Charles. 1977. The what, when, and where guide to northern California. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday.
    Woebcke, Mary-Jane. 1977. The illustrated guide to San Francisco. Vineburg, Calif: Woebcke Distributing Co.
    Wood, Beatrice. 2006. I shock myself: the autobiography of Beatrice Wood. San Francisco, Calif: Chronicle.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    J. Paul Getty Museum. -- Archives
    L.A. Today Custom Tours.
    Los Angeles County Museum of Art. -- Archives
    Norton Simon Museum (Pasadena, Calif.). -- Archives
    Oswald, Elinor
    Exhibition catalogs
    Fliers (Printed matter)
    Kern County (Calif.)--History
    Long Beach (Calif.)
    Los Angeles (Calif.)--History
    Orange County (Calif.)--History
    Pasadena (Calif.)
    Riverside County (Calif.)--History
    Sacramento (Calif.)
    San Bernardino County (Calif.)--History
    San Diego County (Calif.)--History
    San Fernando Valley (Calif.)
    San Francisco (Calif.)
    San Gabriel River Valley (Calif.)
    San Luis Obispo County (Calif.)--History
    Santa Barbara County (Calif.)--History
    Santa Monica Bay (Calif.)
    Tijuana (Baja California, Mexico)--History
    Tour guides (Persons)
    Ventura County (Calif.)--History