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C.C. Pierce Collection of Photographs: Finding Aid
photCL Pierce  
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Collection Overview
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The C.C. Pierce collection constitutes one of the most important collections of historical photographs of early California and Los Angeles extant. The collection of 10,100 prints was assembled by Charles C. Pierce (1861-1946), a photographer and long-time operator of a thriving Los Angeles photographic business. The collection is divided into nine topical headings devised by Pierce. These include Los Angeles Historical; Indians; Missions; California cities, counties, etc.; Industries and Agriculture; Transportation; Natural History; Art and Architecture; and Miscellaneous Scenery. Within these large sections are smaller categories that focus on the history, landscape, people, civic and cultural events, built environment, and development of Southern California and the Southwest from approximately 1845-1930. Of particular interest are the various Indian tribes depicted as well as all twenty-one of the California Missions.
Charles Chester Pierce was born on November 22, 1861, in Springfield, Massachusetts. An engineer by training, Pierce migrated to Southern California in 1886. Pierce began his photographic career in the thriving boom town of Los Angeles, first in partnership with Albert H. Lohn, and then successively with J.B. Blanchard and A.E. McConnell. He established his own studio around 1900 at 313 Spring Street. He moved several times during his career, eventually expanding his business to include the sale of photographic supplies. The most outstanding aspect of his business, however, was the vast picture library he amassed over three decades at work. Aside from making his own photographs, Pierce acquired the negatives and prints of other regional photographers such as Emil Ellis, Parker and Knight, Ramsey, Herve Friend, L.M. Clendenon, George P. Thresher, George Wharton James, and F.M. Huddleston. Pierce eradicated the existing signatures from the photographs, stamped his own name on the images, and organized the lot into subject files. The consequence of Pierce's business practices assured that most, if not all, of the connections between the images and their original creator are now lost. However, the archive which he advertised as the "C.C. Pierce Collection of Rare, Historical and Curious Photographs, Illustrating California, the Pacific Coast and the Southwest," became an invaluable resource for researchers and boosters alike, all of whom came to Pierce's shop to locate an image for their purposes.
10,100 photographs in 63 boxes (51.19 linear feet)
The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.
Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.