Historical Society of Southern California Collection (2018 Donation)

Finding aid created by Seaver Center for Western History Research, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County staff using RecordEXPRESS
Seaver Center for Western History Research, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
900 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90007-4057
(213) 763-3359

Descriptive Summary

Title: Historical Society of Southern California Collection (2018 Donation)
Dates: 1798-2017, bulk 1890s-2012
Collection Number: GC 1383
Creator/Collector: Historical Society of Southern California
Extent: 19 Linear feet, 3 extremely oversize maps, 6 framed items, flat files
Repository: Seaver Center for Western History Research, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
Los Angeles, California 90007-4057
Abstract: The collection is comprised of the Historical Society of Southern California (HSSC) business archives (1890s-2017), and books, ephemera, photographs and manuscripts all collected by the HSSC. The organization was formed in 1883 to collect and preserve manuscripts, periodicals, newspapers, and both written and oral historical accounts regarding the history of the Pacific Coast in general and of Southern California in particular.
Language of Material: English


Research is by appointment only

Publication Rights

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

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item]. Historical Society of Southern California Collection (2018 Donation). Collection Number: GC 1383. Seaver Center for Western History Research, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Biography/Administrative History

In the May 2018 Board meeting of Historical Society of Southern California, a decision was made that the organization was no longer a collecting institution and that a suitable repository for the collection should be approached. It was decided to approach the History Department at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM), to determine if they would accept the major portion of the collection, and the Autry Museum of Western Heritage, Los Angeles, to see if they would take the materials relating to Charles F. Lummis, founder of the Southwest Museum, whose collections are now a major holding of the Autry. Both institutions were selected because of their long history with HSSC and their accessibility to researchers, students, and the general public. The Historical Society’s long association with the Natural History Museum dates back to 1910 with the founding of the Los Angeles County Museum of History, Art and Science. The HSSC provided one of the founding collections to the Natural History Museum. HSSC along with the Fine Arts League, the Southern Division of the Cooper Ornithological Club, and the Southern California Academy of Sciences entered into an agreement with the County of Los Angeles on February 7, 1910 to build a historical museum and art gallery. The agreement required the four groups to furnish the new museum with exhibit materials. HSSC’s contributions in accordance with the agreement were each designated an accession number “A.30” denoting that they were received as museum property. Prior to the contribution, HSSC did not have a permanent home for their collection. Since then, its mission to collect historical materials on California saw its collections grow significantly while securing a place to house and properly care for these collections remained a challenge. Beginning in August of 2018, NHM staff made several visits to the storage unit in Long Beach, California where the collections were stored after leaving the Homestead Museum. The History Department agreed to accept the bulk of the collection that did not duplicate materials already in the NHM collections and to take possession by the end of September. These collections amount to nearly 10,000 historical items ranging from 1798 to 2017. Some items were not accepted by NHM or the Autry, so other institutions were approached including the Los Angeles Public Library, Heritage Square Museum in Highland Park, Special Collections at Chapman University, UCLA - Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture with some objects and documents being returned to the Lummis Home (El Alisal) which is currently managed by the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks. A large volume of HSSC materials previously incorporated into the NHM’s founding collections includes over eight linear feet of papers and photographs currently housed in the Seaver Center for Western History Research.

Scope and Content of Collection

The collection is arranged into five series by primarily by format: Manuscripts, Photographs, Ephemera, Books and the HSSC Business Archive. Each series have multiple subseries. The HSSC collection was moved multiple times over the decades prior to it being donated to the Seaver Center for Western History Research. As a result, the original arrangement of the collection has been lost. There are individual collections that should have stayed together but were scattered throughout the storage boxes. The collection has now been reorganized to reunite the various donations and/or collections. When known the original donor of the items to the HSSC has been noted in the comment sections of the container lists for each series/subseries. The arrangement within each of the series/subseries is by the inventory item numbers from the collection survey conducted by Historical Resources, Inc., completed 2018. The one exception is the HSSC Business Archives which is arranged by year and format: business correspondence, organizational business, events and activities, photographs, The Southern California Quarterly (SCQ), and other publications attributed to HSSC. There is a content list for each series/subseries. Series 1: HSSC Business Archives 1890s-2017, Series 2: Manuscripts 1820s-1960s, Series 3: Photographs 1880s-1980s, Series 4: Ephemera 1830s-1990s, Series 5: Books.

Indexing Terms

Air pilots – United States – 1920-1940 – Photographs
California – History
Court Cases – Los Angeles County 1890s-1917
Los Angeles (Calif.) – History
Political campaign literature – Los Angeles (Calif.) – 1900-1930
United States History -- Civil War -- 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives; Diaries
Roads – Design and construction – California, Southern
Los Angeles County (Calif.). Sheriff’s Office -- History
Banks – California – Los Angeles
California Pacific International Exposition (1935, Long Beach, Calif.)
Aviation History – United States – 1920-1960—Photographs
Olvera Street (Los Angeles, Calif.) -- History
Pioneers -- California -- History -- 19th century
Political leadership – California – 20th century -- Photographs
Port of Los Angeles
Boulder Dam -- Construction -- Photographs
Harbors – California – San Pedro (Los Angeles)
Klu Klux Klan (20th Century) – Los Angeles (Calif.) -- Photographs
Legal documents -- California
Long Beach Earthquake, 1933-- Photographs
United States History – World War II
Pico, Pio 1801-1894
Biscailuz, Eugene 1883–1969
Earhart, Amelia 1897-1937
Lindbergh, Charles 1902-1974
Yorty, Sam 1909-1998
Brown, Edmond G., Sr. (Pat) 1906-1996
Brown, Edmond G., Jr. (Gerry)
Chavez, Cesar 1927-1993
Biscailuz, Eugene 1883–1969
Emerson, F. W.
Pico, Pio 1801-1894
Newmark family
Wolfskill family
Los Angeles Herald Examiner (Newspaper) -- Photographs
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County – History
United Farm Workers

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