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Southern California Edison Collection of Negatives and Photographs
photCL SCE  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Arrangement
  • Scope and Contents
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Related Materials in the Huntington Library
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Additional Resources
  • Preferred Citation
  • Existence and Location of Copies
  • Processing Information

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: The Huntington Library. Photo Archives
    Title: Southern California Edison collection of negatives and photographs
    Creator: Southern California Edison Company
    Identifier/Call Number: photCL SCE
    Physical Description: 843 Linear Feet (822 boxes)
    Physical Description: approximately 80,000 Items
    Date (inclusive): approximately 1883-1989
    Date (bulk): 1910-1960
    Abstract: The Southern California Edison collection of negatives and photographs consists of roughly 80,000 images created and acquired by the company from approximately 1883-1980s, with the bulk of the collection covering 1910-1960. Formats include glass and film negatives, photo cards, loose photographs, photograph albums, lantern slides, and related materials. Most of the images were produced by Edison staff and contract photographers to document Edison facilities, products, operations, activities, and staff and for the purposes of education, advertising, training, and liability.

    Arrangement

    The collection is arranged in 10 series according to format:
    • Series 1. Digital images (scans of items in Series 2-6)
    • Series 2. Photo cards
    • Series 3. Photograph albums
    • Series 4. Loose photographs
    • Series 5. Glass negatives
    • Series 6. Film negatives
    • Series 7. Lantern slides
    • Series 8. Photo log books, photo binders, and notes
    • Series 9. Microfilm, photo releases, and enclosures
    • Series 10. Unprocessed materials
    Series 1, 4, 5, and 6 are arranged in the following subseries that were assigned by SCE:
    • Subseries 1. Edison Electric Company, 1883-1912
    • Subseries 2. Southern California Edison, 1908-1960
    • Subseries 3. Pacific Light and Power, 1902-1917
    • Subseries 4. Mt. Whitney Power Company, 1899-1920
    • Subseries 5. Doug White, photographer, 1938-1960s
    • Subseries 6. Joe Fadler, photographer, 1950s-1970s
    • Subseries 7. California Electric Corporation [Cal-Electric], 1941-1964
    • Subseries 8. Art Adams, photographer, 1960s-1980s
    • Subseries 9. Edison News, 1950s-1980s
    • Subseries 10. Miscellaneous
    • Subseries 11. Images for book: "Iron Men and Copper Wires"
    • Subseries 12. Images for book: "The Story of Big Creek"
    • Subseries 13. Photo albums, 1904-1945
    Note: Subseries 11 and 12 are primarily copy negatives for images published in two books related to the history of Southern California Edison: William A. Myers, Iron Men and Copper Wires (Glendale: Trans-Angle Books, 1983); and David H. Redinger, The Story of Big Creek (Los Angeles: Angelus Press, 1949). The majority of these images are elsewhere in the collection in their original format.

    Scope and Contents

    The Southern California Edison collection of negatives and photographs consists of roughly 80,000 images created and acquired by the company from approximately 1883 – 1980s, with the bulk of the collection covering 1910 - 1960. Formats include glass and film negatives, photo cards, loose photographs, photograph albums, lantern slides, and related materials. Most of the images were produced by Edison staff and contract photographers to document Edison facilities, products, operations, activities, and employees and for the purposes of education, advertising, training, and liability.
    The SCE collection offers a range of subjects far broader than the company's original intent. In addition to infrastructural images of transmission lines, steam plants, substations, equipment, vehicles, and hydroelectric plants, the company captured the uses of light and electricity in its myriad capacities, including night lighting of streets, billboards, storefronts, and gas stations; electric kitchens and appliances in domestic and industrial settings such as restaurants and cafes; agricultural innovations in the dairy and poultry industries; lighting for recreational uses such as swimming pools, bathhouses, tennis courts and golf courses; office work and lighting; and accident scenes and disasters, particularly the St. Francis Dam disaster of 1928.
    Edison superintendent Benjamin F. Pearson began visually documenting aspects of the company in 1896. Pearson, an avid amateur photographer, took pictures of Edison Electric Company (EEC) facilities until 1904 when G. Haven Bishop (1879–1972) was hired as the company's first full-time staff photographer. Using an 8 x 10- inch view camera, Bishop recorded approximately 30,000 scenes during an Edison career that spanned more than three decades, or until 1939. Bishop's work is found in Series 1 through 7, and comprises most of subseries 2.
    Doug White became staff photographer around 1940 during the critical period of World War II and postwar suburbanization. The archive contains approximately 5,000 negatives by White. His photographs are supplemented by those of Robert K. Noble (1895-1957), an Edison employee and skilled amateur photographer who functioned as a semi-official company photographer upon request. White's photographs are primarily found in subseries 5.
    Beginning in 1952, Edison hired outside vendors to produce most of its photography. In 1978, SCE acquired the files of two of its most widely used photographers: Joe Fadler (1924-2013) and Art Adams. Fadler began shooting for Edison in 1951, mostly for Public Information, Advertising, Commercial, Operating, and the Engineering and Community Relations divisions. The archive contains approximately 24,856 images between 1951 and 1974 by Fadler in subseries 6. Art Adams worked for Edison beginning in 1959 and shot much of the material that appeared in Edison News as well as recording other special events and meetings. The archive contains approximately 4,000 negatives in subseries 8 by Adams, from 1959 through 1978.
    Together Fadler and Adams covered the construction of all three San Onofre Nuclear Plants (SONGS); the Sylmar earthquake of 1971; Mandalay Water Desalinization Plant; environmental treatment of Edison facilities; street lighting developments; the first Electro-Static Precipitator at El Segundo; management meetings and special events; construction of Mammoth Pool; and the operation of coal plants at Four Corners and Mojave.

    Biographical / Historical

    Southern California Edison (SCE) is the largest electric utility in California, serving more than 14 million people in 15 counties of central, coastal and southern California. The company traces its origins to several regional light and power companies, including Holt and Knupp in Visalia, California, Santa Barbara Electric Light Company, and Riverside Water Company. West Side Lighting Company and Los Angeles Edison Electric Company merged in 1897 to form Edison Electric Company (EEC) of Los Angeles, with John Barnes Miller serving as general manager. Miller, called "The Great Amalgamator," bought 40 power companies over the next five years. In 1909, Miller renamed the expanded entity, Southern California Edison.
    In 1911, the Pacific Light and Power Company (PL&P) – then owned principally by Henry E. Huntington –began construction of the Big Creek hydroelectric project in the High Sierras. The company further expanded the operation in 1913, making Big Creek the largest hydroelectric project in the world. PL&P conveyed all rights and properties to Southern California Edison in 1917, thus uniting the two largest utilities in Southern California.
    Big Creek construction occurred over three distinct phases, which is documented in the collection in depth. Phase 1 (1911-1914): Building Powerhouses Nos. 1 and 2 and Huntington Lake; Phase 2 (1917-1929) Expansion of Big Creek, including Huntington Lake storage and additional generating units to Powerhouse Nos. 1 and 2; construction of Florence Lake, Shaver Lake, Mono-Bear Diversions and Siphon, Powerhouse No. 2A, Powerhouse No. 8, and Powerhouse No. 3; Phase 3 (1948-1960), Construction of Redinger Lake, Lake Thomas A. Edison, Mammoth Pool Reservoir, Powerhouse No. 4, Mammoth Pool Powerhouse, Portal Powerhouse, and several small diversions.
    Other historic milestones in the collection include: the 1902 survey of the Colorado River; construction and 1924 opening of Long Beach Steam Plant No. 2, the first modern steam plant on the West Coast; passage of The Boulder Canyon Act of 1928, designating SCE's operation of some Hoover Dam generators; completion in 1930 of SCE's Art Deco headquarters at Fifth and Grand in Los Angeles; construction of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) in 1963, with units 2 and 3 added in 1972; acquisition of California Electric Company, or Cal-Electric, in 1964; and the opening of Solar One in 1982, the nation's first large-scale solar generation site.
    Companies acquired by Southern California Edison and represented in the collection are Pacific Light & Power Company; Mount Whitney Power Company; the Nevada-Electric Corporation (which operated the Nevada-California Power Company, the Southern Sierras Power Company, the Hoton Power Company, the Imperial Ice and Development Company, the Cain Irrigation Company, and the Hillside Water Company); and the California-Electric Power Corporation (also known as Cal-Electric).

    Related Materials in the Huntington Library

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Edison International, August 2005.

    Additional Resources

    William Deverell and Greg Hise, eds. Form and Landscape: Southern California Edison and the Los Angeles Basin, 1940-1990 (San Marino: Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West, 2016) Call no. F869.L857 F67 2016.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. Southern California Edison collection of negatives and photographs, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Existence and Location of Copies

    Approximately 70,000 images in this collection have been digitized and are available in the Huntington Digital Library: Southern California Edison negative and photograph collection  

    Processing Information

    In 2005, Edison International donated the Southern California Edison collection of negatives and photographs (photCL SCE), business records (mssSouthern California Edison records), and motion picture film (mssSCE MP) to The Huntington Library. As part of the agreement, Edison required digital images of all photographs for its internal use. The Huntington undertook a three-year rehousing and digitization project from 2006-2009, scanning approximately 70,000 images from Series 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, which now make up Series 1 (Digital images) and are available in the Huntington Digital Library. Ross Landry, an Edison employee, arranged and described the digitized images using Edison log books (see Series 8) and internal files. Edison received copies of all scans at the project's completion in 2009. In 2019, Jennifer Watts and Suzanne Oatey created this finding aid.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Civil engineering
    Dams
    Department stores
    Electric industry workers
    Electric power production
    Electric signs
    Electric substations
    Electrical engineering
    Electricity
    Hydroelectric power plants
    Municipal lighting
    Nuclear energy
    Nuclear power plants--California
    Power-plants
    Public utilities -- California
    Restaurants
    Street lighting
    Water-supply
    Los Angeles (Calif.) -- Photographs
    Los Angeles County (Calif.) -- Photographs
    Hoover Dam (Ariz.. and Nev.) -- Photographs
    California, Southern -- Photographs
    Nevada -- Photographs
    Arizona -- Photographs
    Big Creek (Calif.) -- Photographs
    Long Beach (Calif.) -- Photographs
    Photographs
    Photograph albums
    Glass plate negatives
    Negatives (photographs)
    Lantern slides
    Microfilms
    Southern California Edison Company
    Pacific Gas and Electric Company