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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biography
  • Collection Description
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Digital Collection

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Hurley/Wright Surveyors Map Collection
    Dates: 1855-1968. Bulk: 1885-1920
    Collection number: 064
    Creator: Wright, E. T.
    Creator: Hurley, Joseph A.
    Creator: Nicholson, W. B.
    Collection Size: 1749 maps, 7 tables, 16 archival document boxes, 10 flat oversize boxes
    Repository: Loyola Marymount University. Library. Department of Archives and Special Collections.
    Los Angeles, California 90045-2659
    Abstract: This collection contains surveyors' field books, plat maps and other maps from counties of Southern California, spanning the years from 1855 to 1968.
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English
    Selected digitized collection materials available online.


    Collection is open to research under the terms of use of the Department of Archives and Special Collections, Loyola Marymount University.

    Publication Rights

    Materials in the Department of Archives and Special Collections may be subject to copyright. Unless explicitly stated otherwise, Loyola Marymount University does not claim ownership of the copyright of any materials in its collections. The user or publisher must secure permission to publish from the copyright owner. Loyola Marymount University does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or of publication rights held by the original author or artists or his/her heirs, assigns, or executors.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Series number, Box and Folder or map case number, Hurley/Wright Surveyors Map Collection, 064, Department of Archives and Special Collections, William H. Hannon Library, Loyola Marymount University.

    Acquisition Information

    Donated to Loyola University (now Loyola Marymount University) in 1964, with Father Phil Conneally, S.J., the intermediary.


    A number of surveyors appear in the collection. The most prominent are Joseph A. Hurley, E(dward) T(homas) Wright and his partner, Nicholson. Although the partner's Christian name is unidentified in the collection he is most likely W. B. Nicholson, who is cited as Wright's partner in Nicholson's obituary in the Los Angeles Herald of 21 August 1901. Wright was married to Nicholson's sister, Lucy, until her death in 1900. Also, a Mary Perry Nicholson learned the profession of engineering in the office of E. T. Wright, according to a Los Angeles Herald article of 12 July 1903. She may have been a relative of W. B. Nicholson.
    E. T. Wright (1851-1917) was county surveyor three times in Los Angeles County, his first term beginning in 1884 and his last ending in 1898. He also served as county surveyor for San Bernardino County. Wright, at the time of his death, was city engineer of San Gabriel. As the maps in this collection attest he was instrumental in the development of many parts of Los Angeles.
    Joseph A. Hurley (1884-1964) graduated from St. Vincent's College, the forerunner of Loyola Marymount University. He held the position of city engineer in 1913, and his office was 600 Thorpe Building. He was still active as a surveyor in the 1930s. He kept the map collection intact, after which it came to then Loyola University, now Loyola Marymount University.
    An incomplete list of surveyors in the collection follows:
    • Austrian immigrant and well-known Los Angeles surveyor George Hansen (1824-1897), the Los Angeles City Surveyor for numerous terms, Los Angeles County Surveyor from 1864 until 1869, and leader in the development of Anaheim.
    • William F. McClure, a civil engineer, land developer, and state engineer from 1912 to his death in 1926.
    • Lothar Seebold, a very active surveyor in Los Angeles the 1870s and deputy county surveyor in 1868.
    • Boyle Heights resident José A. Bernal (1857-1927), chief deputy surveyor for the City of Los Angeles in the 1880s and 1890s, and civil engineer and surveyor who specialized in Mexican land grants.
    • Henry Hancock (1822-1883), prominent Los Angeles lawyer and surveyor.

    Collection Description

    The Hurley/Wright Map Collection (064) is named after Los Angeles surveyors E. T. Wright and Joseph A. Hurley, the latter active in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the former in the early to middle twentieth century. The collection contains over 1700 plat maps and other maps. The chronological span of the maps is from 1855 to 1968, with the bulk of the datable holdings running from 1885 to 1920. Companion to this broad chronology is the broad geographical scope of the maps, which record property in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, and San Diego counties.
    The historical value of the collection is great. Holdings contain maps recording ownership of californio ranchos from 1858 on and their subsequent divisions and development; old downtown Los Angeles; and creations of counties in Southern California. Examples of ranchos found in the collection include San Rafeal, San Pascual, La Cañada, La Ballona, and San Pedro. Especially valuable is the record of the subdivision of ranchos during Los Angeles' great boom of 1885-1887. For an example, see the creation of the Baugh tract in 1887 from the Rafaela Verdugo de Sepúlveda homestead in the Rancho San Rafael (modern-day Glendale and surrounding areas).
    Also of interest are maps recording properties of water companies in Los Angeles. A good example of this is map number 921 of the lands of the L.A. Canal and Reservoir Company (post 1868), detailing the course of its ditches on the outskirts of Los Angeles in the Stone Hill Quarry area. Such maps can also yield valuable information on social history, for this map records the location of the both the Jewish and Roman Catholic cemeteries, as well as the names of property holders in the Stone Hill Quarry area, many of whom were Mexican-American. Another good example of these maps' evidence for local history and social relations is map number 1731, which records the subdivision of lands in 1869 around the Protestant cemetery, such local businesses as the "Lumberyard of Tomlinson," and now long-disappeared Los Angeles streets, including the appropriately named "Eternity Street," which led to the cemetery.
    The maps are drawn on linen, white or light brown drawing paper, blue paper, or a heavy brown drawing paper, often crumbling, evidencing its high acidity.
    Maps can be as large as 3 feet by 5 feet or even greater; other representative sizes range from 17.75 inches by 13 inches to 20 inches by 22 inches.
    Entries in the box and folder list are based on titles and dates found on map. The map number refers to the numbering system employed by Wright and Nicholson, and Hurley. The dimensions and format (or formats) of the maps are recorded only for a few of them. Entries in the location field reflect the scattered storage locations of the maps. Maps stored in map case are designated, eg, "Map Case 1-1," with the first number refering to the map unit in which it is stored, the second to the drawer.
    When possible the surveyors have been identified. When the two names "Wright and Nicholson" appear in the box and folder entry, it may be assumed that the surveyors are E. T. Wright and W. B. Nicholson.
    Some maps are in poor condition, which may limit their accessibility to researchers.
    Besides maps, the collection also holds field books from the surveying work and surveying records, principally, of Joseph A. Hurley and E. T. Wright (Series 6). The field books cover, among other places, work done at Chester Place for William Doheny; the history of work done on the Temple Block; Boyle Heights, including the water system there commissioned by William H. Workman; and the Phineas Banning property at Wilmington, California in 1869. Titles provided from the field books themselves are noted by the use of parentheses in the box and folder entries. They usually include the number of the field book and the name of the surveyor. There are also some financial records in this series.
    On-Line Digital Collection

    Some of the maps have been digitized and are part of the William H. Hannon Library's Digital Library.
    To view the images, see the following digital collection:


    This collection is arranged into series based on the chronology of maps and on type of material, ie, field books. Important periods in Los Angeles history were used to determine the chronological span of the series related to maps. For example, Series 2 encompasses the years from 1885 to 1900 to take into account the great Los Angeles land boom of 1885-1887, which was the foundation for the modern megapolis that is Los Angeles. Series 1 contains maps before 1885, which allows researchers to access more easily maps of ranchos found in the late 1850s and through the 1870s. There are also a large number of undated maps that were placed in a series based on this characteristic of the map.
    • Series 1: Pre-1885
    • Series 2: 1885-1900
    • Series 3: 1901-1920
    • Series 4: 1921-1968
    • Series 5: Undated
    • Series 6: Field Books and Surveying Records

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Wright, E. T. (1851-)
    Hurley, Joseph A. (1884-1964)
    Hansen, George (1824-1897)
    Surveyors -- California -- Los Angeles -- History -- 19th century
    Surveyors -- California -- Los Angeles -- History -- 20th century
    Surveying -- California -- Los Angeles -- History -- 20th century
    Surveying -- California -- Los Angeles -- History -- 19th century
    Ranches -- California -- History -- 19th century
    Los Angeles (Calif.) -- Maps
    Field Books

    Digital Collection

    Some of the maps have been digitized and are part of the William H. Hannon Library's Digital Library.
    To view the images, see the following digital collection: