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Guide to the Surfing Collection
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Biographical Information:
  • Administrative Information
  • Scope and Contents

  • Overview of the Collection

    Collection Title: Surfing Collection
    Dates: 1963-2011
    Identification: MS-0246
    Creator: Surfing
    Physical Description: 21.16 linear ft
    Repository: Special Collections & University Archives
    5500 Campanile Dr. MC 8050
    San Diego, CA, 92182-8050
    URL: http://library.sdsu.edu/scua
    Email: askscua@mail.sdsu.edu
    Phone: 619-594-6791

    Biographical Information:

    Although surfing existed for hundreds of years before it was embraced by American culture, the sport did not receive national recognition until the mid-Twentieth Century. The "royal sport for the natural kings" as Jack London called it in 1907, was quickly popularized by the onset on American film, music, and the dedication of professional surfers. Beach themed movies like Gidget (1959) and surf music from the Beach Boys and Dick Dale contributed to the Californian allure, and San Diego saw a major increase of surfers out in the water.
    Though much of San Diego's early surf history has gone undocumented, most historians agree that the modern age of surfing began in California with the arrival of George Freeth in 1907 and Duke Kahanamoku in 1912. The end of the Second World War saw a marked change in the jovial, communal environment that surfers once embraced. During the war, the military procured major stretches of beach for training grounds, closing many of the best breaks in the process. Technological advancements like foam boards and wetsuits aided the accessibility of the sport, and more and more people were able to get out into the water without discomfort.
    In the late 1950's, Southern California saw an explosion in the surf scene, causing more experienced, older surfers to seek out unfound breaks along the coast and into Mexico. The Gidget phenomenon drew people from the mainland toward the coast to pursue unrealistic expectations about surf culture. By the 1960's surfing had become part of the American identity.The sport was embraced by the masses on a grand scale.
    Whereas surfing was once influenced by the relaxed Hawaiian cultural practices of hula, the ukulele, and the "aloha" spirit, the younger generation of surfers became more interested in slashing and destroying waves, shorter foam boards, and establishing surfing as a youthful counterculture. Cultural transitions during the 1960's also added to the appeal of California beaches, as surfers were seen as individualistic athletes uninterested in corporate city life. The prominence of the short board, coupled with a global interest in competitive surfing marked the departure from the "golden years" of Freeth and the famous Duke Kahanamoku.
    San Diego arguably has some of the most consistent surf in the continental US, and several spots are sought out by prominent professional surfers. In 2001, Cortez Bank was discovered one hundred miles west of San Diego, yielding some of the largest waves ever ridden. The discovery of the spot has firmly planted San Diego in the world of big wave surfing, and the county is still a vibrant center for surf culture and art.

    Administrative Information

    Conditions Governing Use:

    The copyright interests in these materials have not been transferred to San Diego State University. Copyright resides with the creators of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. The nature of historical archival and manuscript collections is such that copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine.  Requests for permission to publish must be submitted to the Head of Special Collections, San Diego State University, Library and Information Access. When granted, permission is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical item and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder(s), which must also be obtained in order to publish. Materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials.

    Preferred Citation:

    Identification of item, folder title, box number, Surfing Collection, Special Collections and University Archives, Library and Information Access, San Diego State University.

    Related Materials:

    A significant portion of this collection has been cataloged, and can be accessed via the PAC.
    Information about related materials is available at http://libpac.sdsu.edu/search~S0?/tsurfing+collection/tsurfing+collection/1%2C2%2C752%2CB/exact&FF=tsurfing+collection&1%2C751%2C

    Scope and Contents

    The Surfing Collection documents surfing and surf culture through article clippings and documents, as well as ephemera and media that describe surf culture, surfing's history, and information about surfing. Series I: Documents contain various articles, bibliographies, and syllabi related to surfing. Series II: Media and Ephemera contains ephemera such as toys, stickers, postcards, playing cards, advertisements, menus, fliers, clippings, as well as several pieces of audiovisual material. Series III: Periodicals includes various surfing periodicals from 1963 to the present.  A portion of the Surfing Collection is cataloged, and can be accessed via the library catalog: http://libpac.sdsu.edu/search~S0?/tsurfing+collection/tsurfing+collection/1%2C2%2C752%2CB/exact&FF=tsurfing+collection&1%2C751%2C".