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Register of the California Eagle Photograph Collection, Late 1800s-Late 1950s
PH 001  
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: California Eagle Photograph Collection,
    Date (inclusive): Late 1800s-Late 1950s
    Collection number: PH 001
    Creator: California eagle (Los Angeles, Calif.)
    Extent: 1 cubic foot
    Repository: Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research.
    Los Angeles, California
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    The collection is available for research only at the Library's facility in Los Angeles.  The Library is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Researchers are encouraged to call or email the Library indicating the nature of their research query prior to making a visit.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to the Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research. Researchers may make single copies of any portion of the collection, but publication from the collection will be allowed only with the express written permission of the Library's director. It is not necessary to obtain written permission to quote from a collection. When the Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research gives permission for publication, it is as the owner of the physical item and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], California Eagle Photograph Collection, Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research, Los Angeles.


    The California Eagle, the oldest African American newspaper in Los Angeles traces its origins to 1879, when John J. Neimore, a Texan, started the paper. It was first known as The Owl, later to become the Eagle, and when Charlotta Spears Bass took over, the California Eagle.
    When John Neimore died in 1912, Captain G.W. Hawkins, a second-hand store dealer, bought the paper and turned it over to Charlotta Bass to own and operate. Charlotta Bass (1879-1969) had moved from her brother's home in Rhode Island to Los Angeles in 1910 for health reasons. It was intended as a two year stay, but the high cost of living drove Mrs. Bass to find work within several months of her arrival. She landed a job with the Eagle and proved to be a great asset to the paper.
    Charlotta Bass continued in the crusading tradition of the Eagle in fighting for equality and against racial bigotry. In addition, to the activism of the paper, Mrs. Bass integrated the social page to please the myriad of interests in the Los Angeles African American community.
    Charlotta Bass was running the paper alone until Joseph Blackburn Bass, a founder of the Topeka Plaindealer, moved to Los Angeles in 1913. He and Charlotta Bass married the following year. They ran the paper together, Mr. Bass took care of the business end, while Mrs. Bass did most of the writing. Mr. Bass became ill in 1932 and died in 1934. Mrs. Bass continued to run the paper alone. There was hope that Charlotta Bass's young nephew, John Kinloch who moved to Los Angeles in the late 1930s would take over the paper. His young life was cut short when he was killed in combat during World War II. Once again Mrs. Bass was left to run the paper alone.
    Money problems plagued the California Eagle, but Charlotta Bass continued to publish the paper despite competition from the Los Angeles Sentinel (established 1933) and the Los Angeles Tribune (established 1940). Mrs. Bass had been contemplating selling the paper, but it wasn't until 1951 that she decided to sell the paper to Loren Miller, the former city editor of the California Eagle. Miller continued in the same tradition of putting out an activist paper as Bass and Neimore. Miller, a civil liberties lawyer, had a particular interest in discrimination and housing. His work against restrictive convenants and other racially segregated practices led to his appointment as municipal court judge by Governor Edmund "Pat" Brown in 1964.
    Miller's appointment to the bench led to the acquisition of his majority stock by a group of 14 people. A.S. "Doc" Young was designated as the president and editor, while James Tolbert would be publisher and executive vice-president. Tolbert would manage the business side, while Young would make the editorial decisions. Under the beginning of the short-lived Tolbert-Young era, the California Eagle increased its circulation from 3,000 to 21,000 papers. But, within six months the paper went bust due to missed business opportunities and mismanagement. Young resigned four months into the Tolbert-Young partnership leaving Tolbert, who had very little editorial experience to manage. The paper rapidly deteriorated and on January 7, 1965, the California Eagle ceased publication after its beginning 85 years before.
    • Bass, Charlotta A. Forty Years: Memoirs from the Pages of a Newspaper. Charlotta A. Bass, Los Angeles, 1960.
    • Cooper, Sarah and Tyler, Mary. "Bass, Charlotta Spears," Encyclopedia of the American West. McMillan & Co., New York, 1996.
    • Jeter, Ph.D., James Phillip. Rough Flying: The California Eagle (1879-1965). Presented to the 12th Annual Conference of the American Journalism Historians Association, Salt Lake City, Utah, October 7, 1993. Unpublished.

    Scope and Content

    The collection is divided into six categories: Charlotta Bass; General; Individuals; Labor; Social Causes; and Society. Most of the photographs were taken for the California Eagle. The collection dates from the late 1800s to the late 1950s. The later photographs were used under Loren Miller. Many of the earlier photographs are of Charlotta Bass and in that series. Other earlier photographs can be found in the Society category under Portraits.