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Register of the Charlotta A. Bass Papers
MSS 002  
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Bibliography

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Charlotta A. Bass Papers
    Collection number: MSS 002
    Creator: Bass, Charlotta A., 1874-1968
    Extent: 8 document cases

    3 cubic feet
    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], Charlotta A. Bass Papers, MSS 002, Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research, Los Angeles.


    Charlotta Bass, nee Spears, was born on February 14, 1874 in Little Compton, Rhode Island. She attended Brown University, Columbia University and UCLA. At 36 years of age, she moved to Los Angeles and Joined the Eagle later to become the California Eagle. John Neimore was editor and publisher of the Eagle and upon his death in 1912 he left the paper to Charlotta. She soon married Joseph Blackburn Bass from Topeka, Kansas. They became co-editors and publishers of the California Eagle. Mr. Bass died in the early 1930s leaving Charlotta to manage the paper.
    Mrs. Bass was an activist who fought against the Ku Klux Klan and racial bias. Her political affiliations were with the Republican Party until 1948 where she had once been the Western Regional Director for Wendell Willkie for the 1940 presidential race. In 1950, Mrs. Bass attended the conferences in Prague, Czechoslovakia on the Defenders of the Peace Committee of the World CONGRESS and subsequently visited the Soviet Union. Mrs. Bass was impressed with the Soviet Union's policies on racial issues and saw it as a model for other countries:
    I will never forget the moment when I first realized, standing there in the great Georgian University, that there is in very truth not even a semblance of racial exclusiveness in Russia.
    The example which the Russians are setting in this field will have an effect in every country in the world, including our own. (p. 171 Bass, Forty Years).
    Mrs. Bass joined the Progressive Party and ran for Congress in 1950 for the Fourteenth District in California. In 1952, she was selected to run for Vice-President on the Progressive Party ticket.
    In 1960, Charlotta Bass published her book Forty Years: Memoirs from The Pages of A Newspaper. The book shows the relationship between the California Eagle and the community which it served. It is incidentally an autobiography of Mrs. Bass. The book is a study of local social history and is concerned with the struggle against discrimination in the workplace and in the community.
    In the 1950s, Mrs. Bass retired from the paper and subsequently moved to Elsinore, California where she developed the Community Reading Room on Black and Jewish history.
    At the age of 95, Mrs. Bass died April 12, 1968.

    Scope and Content

    The Charlotta Bass COLLECTION covers the period form 1924 to 1983 and arranged in three series: FORTY YEARS DRAFT AND MANUSCRIPT, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL PAPERS and FINANCIAL RECORDS.
    The basic and most important feature of the collection is the draft and manuscript of Mrs. Bass's book Forty Years published in 1970. The collection also includes publicity for Forty Years such as the receptions held in Mrs. Bass's honor. There are also loan documents and loan account books. Business cards of the California Eagle, press card, dues cards from the Daughters of the IBOE of W and the OES, an invitation to attend the International Stalin Peace Prize Ceremony, 1954, and a sample ballot of the Los Angeles Branch NAACP Election, 1954. There is a poem by S. O'Brien and Family, 1934, expressing sympathy for the death of a family member, perhaps for Mr. Bass. The newspaper clipping from the California Eagle, 1974, is an appeal to work and contribute to the National Negro Congress-Bay Cities Chapter led by Paul Robeson and Charlotta Bass. The Torchlight is a newsletter and in this particular issue a tribute is paid to Paul Robeson written by Mrs. Bass.
    The correspondence reflects Mrs. Bass's political activism. Some of the correspondence refers to Marxism and the Cold War Era. A letter from the Iota Phi Lambda Society of Toledo, Ohio, 1956, revoked Mrs. Bass's honorary membership because her name was mentioned in the Sixth Report on Un-American Activities in California, 1951. Other correspondence includes fan letters and cards from well-wishers.
    The collection also contains the draft of a biography and published biographies of Mrs. Bass. Also included are her address books and her campaign schedule for the presidential election of 1952. The memorial service of 1977 in honor of Mrs. Bass is part of the collection in addition to the Obsequies of April of 1969.
    Her personal bank statements and cancelled checks date back to 1952, while the bank statements and cancelled checks to the California Eagle date back to 1927.
    Most of the photographs in this collection were taken by professional photographers and undated. They probably date from the late 1920s, they are of Mrs. Bass and her activities.


    Bass, Charlotta A. Forty Years: Memoirs From The Pages of A Newspaper. Los Angeles: Charlotta A. Bass, 1960.